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The Wistar Institute Recruits Daniel Claiborne, Ph.D., as Caspar Wistar Fellow

PHILADELPHIA — (July 30, 2021) — The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, announces the appointment of Daniel Claiborne, Ph.D., as Caspar Wistar Fellow in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center (VIC).

Claiborne studies the complex interplay between virus and host in HIV infection, with focus on developing optimized chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for a functional HIV cure using innovative model systems.

"The Wistar VIC has a long-standing commitment to finding a cure for HIV by exploring the potential of the human immune system in fighting the disease," said Dario Altieri, M.D., Wistar president and CEO, director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor. "Dan will integrate his CAR T cell expertise into our HIV research program and further his innovative approach as a tool to detect and target the hidden virus reservoirs, with the goal of achieving a functional cure."

CAR T cells represent a powerful immunotherapy approach for blood cancer, based on engineering a patient’s own T cells to recognize and eliminate malignant cells. This strategy is also being applied to target HIV-infected cells and several anti-HIV CAR T cells have been successfully tested in preclinical models.

Natural mechanisms built to prevent autoimmunity dampen the T cell response in the presence of prolonged antigen exposure, for example in cancer and chronic viral infections. This drawn out state leads to T cell exhaustion. Claiborne’s research aims at gaining a deeper understanding of these mechanisms that may hinder the success of T cell immunotherapies, which is critical to developing next-generation CAR T cell therapies for the treatment of HIV as well as cancer.

"I am beyond thrilled by the opportunity to launch my research career at a place like Wistar that is home to one of the most productive HIV research programs in the nation and traditionally has a strong focus on immunology," said Claiborne. "With its advanced technological capabilities and collaborative approach to science, I think this is the ideal setting for me to develop my research."

Claiborne’s recruitment was made possible through the Caspar Wistar Fellows Program that supports outstanding junior scientists in the early stages of their career as independent investigators. 

"We are very excited to welcome Dan Claiborne to our faculty and grateful to Doug Briggs and his wife Peggy for making it possible,” added Altieri. “We look forward to Dan’s success and achievements as he reaches his full scientific potential."

Claiborne earned his B.S. in biochemistry from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University. Before joining Wistar, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. 

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The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. wistar.org.
 

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