Kelley Yan a Recipient of Columbia’s Precision Medicine Pilot Grant

Five research teams at Columbia University have been awarded a 2022 Precision Medicine Pilot Grant to advance the fields of cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, rare disease, organ transplant and precision psychiatry. Jointly awarded by the Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative (CPMI), the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (Irving Institute), the Precision Medicine Pilot Grants underscore Columbia University’s commitment to supporting diverse, cross-disciplinary research targeting the promise of precision medicine.  

Each team will receive a one-year $100,000 grant to support their research. The five projects are being led by principal investigators Ibrahim Batal, MD, associate professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S); Brent Stockwell, PhD, professor and chair of biological sciences at Columbia University; Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, associate professor of nutritional medicine (in Medicine and the Institute of Human Nutrition) at VP&S; Raju Tomer, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences at Columbia; and Kelley Yan, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and of genetics and development at VP&S.  

Congratulations to the winning teams. 

Central Memory T cells in the Human Colorectal Cancer Immune Microenvironment 

Lead investigator: Kelley Yan, MD, PhD 

Co-principal investigator: Arnold Han, MD, PhD, Robert F. Loeb Assistant Professor of Medicine and assistant professor of microbiology and immunology 

Although mouse models have proven invaluable in the study of human cancer, no mouse model can completely recapitulate human cancer. Recently, methods to culture and maintain human cancers in the lab have advanced our understanding of human cancer biology. However, because immune cells are present throughout the body and not necessarily localized to tumors, such culture methods have not been applied to the study of immune response to cancers. The team’s preliminary data suggests that it is possible to recapitulate important components of the human immune system with human tumors, including a particularly important immune cell population with therapeutic potential, through in vitro culture. This project will investigate the feasibility of culturing and manipulating human tumor immunity in a self-contained and experimentally tractable culture platform. The aim is to establish the foundation for transformative future experiments with many precision medicine applications. 


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