In This Section

Leyuan Ma, PhD
Leyuan Ma
Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Ma focuses on immune engineering. He leverages genetic, chemistry, and engineering tools to dissect immune cell-cell and cell-tissue crosstalk and harness these crosstalk mechanisms to develop biomaterials, protein, and cell-based precision immunotherapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases.



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Dr. Ma’s laboratory focuses on immune engineering, an emerging field at the interface of immunology and multiple engineering disciplines. His research involves dissecting immune cell crosstalk in normal and pathological conditions using genetic and engineering tools and leveraging these crosstalk mechanisms to develop novel precision immunotherapies. Specifically, his current research focuses on developing novel biomaterial-based synthetic vaccines to enhance adoptive T cell therapy (e.g., CAR T, Treg, and TIL therapy), engineering therapeutic proteins via directed evolution, and developing novel tumor microenvironment-responding cell therapies.

Notable career achievements:

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (2019)

NIAID New Innovators Award/DP2 (2021, Impact Score 14)

Education and Training

BS, Shandong Normal University, China (Biosciences and Bioengineering), 2008

PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School (Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology), 2016

Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Immune Engineering), 2021

Titles and Academic Titles

Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Professional Memberships

Biomedical Engineering Society, 2018-

Professional Awards

Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, 2014

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, 2019-2021


Publication Highlights

Ma L, Dichwalkar T, Chang JYH, Cossette B, Garafola D, Zhang AQ, Fichter M, Wang C, Liang S, Silva M, Kumari S, Mehta NK, Abraham W, Thai N, Li N, Wittrup KD, Irvine DJ. Enhanced CAR-T cell activity against solid tumors by vaccine boosting through the chimeric receptor. Science. 2019 Jul; 365(6449):162-168. doi: 10.1126/science.aav8692. PMID: 31296767
Momin N, Mehta NK, Bennett NR, Ma L, Palmeri JR, Chinn MM, Lutz EA, Kang B, Irvine DJ, Spranger S, Wittrup KD. Anchoring of intratumorally administered cytokines to collagen safely potentiates systemic cancer immunotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2019 Jun; 11(498):eaaw2614. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaw2614. PMID: 31243150
Ma L, Pak ML, Ou J, Yu J, St Louis P, Shan Y, Hutchinson L, Li S, Brehm MA, Zhu LJ, Green MR. Prosurvival kinase PIM2 is a therapeutic target for eradication of chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019 Jun; 116(21):10482-10487. doi:10.1073/pnas.1903550116. Epub 2019 May 8.PMID: 31068472
Ma L, Boucher JI, Paulsen J, Matuszewski S, Eide CA, Ou J, Eickelberg G, Press RD, Zhu LJ, Druker BJ, Branford S, Wolfe SA, Jensen JD, Schiffer CA, Green MR, Bolon DN. CRISPR-Cas9-mediated saturated mutagenesis screen predicts clinical drug resistance with improved accuracy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2017 Oct; 114(44):11751-11756. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1708268114. Epub 2017 Oct 16. PMID: 29078326
Ma L, Shan Y, Bai R, Xue L, Eide CA, Ou J, Zhu LJ, Hutchinson L, Cerny J, Khoury HJ, Sheng Z, Druker BJ, Li S, Green MR. A therapeutically targetable mechanism of BCR-ABL-independent imatinib resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Sep; 6(252):252ra121. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009073.PMID: 25186176