Amir Horowitz, PhD
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Oncological Sciences
Research Topics:Anti-Tumor Therapy, Autoimmunity, Bioinformatics, Cancer Genetics, Cellular Immunity, Epidemiology, Genetics, HIV/AIDS, Immunology, Infectious Disease, Lymphocytes, Personalized Medicine, Structural Biology, T Cells, Tolerance, Translational Research, Transplantation, Tumorigenesis, Vaccine Development
Central to my studies is how immunogenetic variation of HLA, KIR and CD94:NKG2A genes governs the education of human NK cells and regulates their ability to function within dynamic environments. A central goal of my lab’s research is to investigate the effects of genetic variation on the effector and immunoregulatory roles of NK cells in patients with cancer receiving immunotherapies. In this regard, I am uniquely positioned to undertake these studies. I first obtained expertise in immunology and infectious diseases with Moriya Tsuji, Martin Markowitz and David Ho (Rockefeller University) and with Eleanor Riley (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). I then pursued post-doctoral expertise in evolutionary and population immunogenetics, structural biology, and epidemiology with Peter Parham (Stanford University). I have cultivated long-standing collaborations with leading scientists in the field of NK cell immunology and HLA genetics and currently have studies focused across settings of hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.
Harnessing NK cells for improving cancer immunotherapies
My work has contributed to developing an understanding of adaptive NK cells and their roles in microbial infections and following vaccination and hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). I was the first person to demonstrate adaptive roles for NK cells in vaccine settings as a strategy to potentiate T cell memory. I also pioneered the first studies of human NK cells by mass cytometry (CyTOF) and demonstrated an enormous breadth of phenotypic diversity and functions associated with specific HLA class I and KIR backgrounds. This research has led to the identification and characterization of numerous NK cell subset populations with unique activity and antiviral (and anti-tumor) potential. In summary, based on my record of successful and highly innovative research projects in areas of immunogenetics and the use of CyTOF, next generation sequencing and computational analytics, I am prepared to study how HLA class I mediated education of NK cells and tumor-derived mutations affecting HLA class I expression and antigen presentation determines sensitivity to tumor cells, immunosuppressive elements produced within the tumor microenvironment and the capacity to potentiate antitumor CD8 T cell activity in response to immune checkpoint blockade therapy. Research Lab: http://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/horowitzlab/