COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Dean Lee, MD, PhD, has been named the director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy Program for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Division of Hematology/Oncology/BMT and Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. Dr. Lee will also serve as the Director of Cellular Therapy at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The collaboration is dedicated to pursuing clinical trials and translational research to develop innovative immune treatments, including the use of advanced cellular therapy. By combining knowledge of the immune system with the power of stem cell transplantation, advanced cellular therapy aims to enhance the body’s immune system to eliminate cancer while reducing the harmful side effects of toxic therapies.
“This joint partnership between Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the James Cancer Hospital has incredible potential to lead the field of immuno-oncology. The patient resources, intellectual assets, and advanced facilities all support the potential for rapid advancements in the field,” says Dr. Lee. “The future is very bright for cellular therapy, and I am proud to lead a team that will leverage the potential of these institutions to advance these new therapies for patients everywhere.”
Additionally, Dr. Lee will serve as an attending physician on the Blood and Marrow Transplantation service at Nationwide Children’s. Dr. Lee’s laboratory research and clinical trial work within the cellular therapy program will impact the outcomes of BMT by manipulating cells to prevent or reduce Graft Versus Host Disease (GvHD), infection and disease relapse.
Dr. Lee also will act as director of the Cellular Therapies program to take place in the new Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production facility in The Research Institute. Another part of this facility produces potential gene therapy products aimed at treating childhood diseases such as cancer and neuromuscular disorders, a key element of the research taking place in The Center for Gene Therapy in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.
“Dr. Lee’s expertise and leadership in cellular therapy, along with our partnership with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, will uniquely position us to achieve the full potential of this exciting new cancer therapy,” says John Barnard, MD, chief of pediatrics and president of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.
Dr. Lee will also direct the cellular therapy research efforts at the OSUCCC and will partner with the clinical team at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute to expand translational research approaches to treat adult cancer patients.
“Dean is a game changer. He will be a driving force in innovative cellular therapy research that will ultimately impact cancer patient care here and around the world,” noted Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
Previously, Dr. Lee was the section chief of Pediatric Cellular Therapy and associate professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Lee is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. He is co-Chair of the stem cell sources/cell therapy strategy group for the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium. Additionally, Dr. Lee was Co-Director of the MD/PhD Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center and served on several consultantships during his career.
Dr. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Fresno Pacific College and his medical and doctorate degrees in microbiology and molecular genetics from Loma Linda University. Remaining at Loma Linda to complete his pediatric residency training, Dr. Lee concluded his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine.