Since being awarded a 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) through the Columbia Department of Biological Sciences, Karim Gharib ‘20GS has been working in the lab of Dr. Arnold Han at @ on an immunology project involving T cells as an immunotherapeutic agent in cancer. “Immunotherapy marks a paradigm shift towards the treatment of cancer. Unlike the current traditional modalities that target malignant cells, immunotherapy targets the patient's immune system. In my project, I use viruses to alter the genome of T cells and confer them with the ability to detect cancer cells. But, there is more to the project than that. A potent and sustained immune response against a tumor requires, among other factors, that the immune system recognizes two types of antigen in the tumor. One recognized by CD4 T cells (the helpers) and one recognized by CD8 T cells (the killers). I was able to change the physiology of CD4 T cells, allowing them to recognize the same exact antigen that CD8 T cells recognize. So, with just one tumor antigen both CD4 and CD8 T cells are activated and together they can potentially mount a vigorous immune response against the tumor.” Karim also assisted in writing a chapter for the recently published “International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology, Volume 342”. The chapter is titled “Cancer Immunosurveillance by T Cells” and discusses the role of T cells in detecting and eliminating malignant tumors.
Interested in learning more about undergraduate research opportunities? Check out the @ Undergraduate Research & Fellowships website: ogp.columbia/urf