Junbao Yang, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics

Junbao Yang. MD, PhD, is a translational immunologist with extensive experience in finding antigen-specific T-cells and determining the protein fragments that these T-cells recognize. He is also specialized in the construction of fusion proteins that can deliver immune modulatory molecules to cancer cells. Dr. Yang is a research scientist at the Pacific Neuroscience Research Center and assistant professor in the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at John Wayne Cancer Institute. He has numerous peer-reviewed high-impact research publications in the above areas.

Dr. Yang received his medical degree from Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University in China. He earned a doctor of philosophy degree in immunology from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. His education backgrounds and research experiences inspired him to focus on cancer-specific T-cell immunotherapy.

Dr. Yang believes that the future of cancer treatment lies in immunotherapy, as evidenced in the recent successes of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. T-cells are the major immune cells that can kill cancer cells directly or help other immune cells to kill the cancer cells. Cancer specific T-cells are self-directed, self-renewable, and have memory to prevent the recurrence of that cancer. The cure by T-cell immunotherapy is expected to last for a long time or even forever. Everyone has cancer-specific T-cells. The challenge is how to find these cells and how to make them functional in the body.

Dr. Yang’s Research Interests are:
1)    Identification of tumor antigens, tumor specific T cells, and determination of the peptides they recognize.
2)    Isolation, expansion, and application of highly purified tumor specific T cells for immunotherapy.
3)    Isolating T cell receptors from tumor specific T cells for TCR gene transfer therapy.
4)    Modifying tumor specific T cells to enhance their killing activity.
5)    Studying how immune checkpoint blockade therapy enhances the tumor specific immune response.

Medical Degree:MD, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, China
PhD, University of Saskatchewan, Canada