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IIN Frontiers in Nanotechnology Seminar Series – James Heath

Professor James Heath

President and Professor
Institute for Systems Biology

A Molecular view of Immuno-oncology


At the heart of most cancer immunotherapies are specific molecular interactions between the principle
cancer-cell killers, T cells, and the tumor-associated peptide antigens that are presented within the tumor
environment. Knowledge of these molecular details can provide deep insight into the nature of which
patients do and don’t respond to therapies, as well as guidance for designing therapies that range from
vaccines to engineered T cells. Dr. Heath will discuss a number of single-cell methods aimed at extracting the
tumor-specific T cell receptor (TCR) α/ß genes and the peptide-major histocompatibility complexes (pMHCs)
that they recognize. A more subtle challenge involves identifying those TCR-pMHC interactions that lead to
activated T cells. It is not just the strength of the TCR-pMHC complex, but rather the lifetime of that
complex, that is important. Dr. Heath will further discuss large scale molecular dynamics simulations
his group has carried out to identify a structural mechanism that uncouples TCR signaling from pMHC
binding, and may provide insights into the exquisite sensitivity that characterizes TCR-pMHC interactions.


Dr. Jim Heath is President and Professor of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington.
He previously served as the Elizabeth Gilloon Professor of Chemistry at Caltech (2003-2018) and
was Professor of Chemistry at UCLA from 1993 to 2002. Heath received his PhD from Rice University in
1988, was a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley from 1988 to 1991, and a research staff member at
IBM Watson labs from 1991 to 1993. Heath has founded and serves on the board of several
companies, including PACT Pharma, Isoplexis, Indi Molecular, and Sofie Biosciences. He directs the
National Cancer Institute-supported NSB Cancer-Center and is a member of the Parker Institute for
Cancer Immunotherapy.   

IIN Frontiers in Nanotechnology Seminar Series – James Heath

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Date & Time:
Thu, September 13, 2018
2:30 am
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