Research Summary

As a physician scientist, I have been dedicated to brain tumor immunology and development of effective immunotherapy for brain tumors for over 20 years. My team was one of very first to discover cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes in glioma-associated and glioma-specific neoantigens, and found critical roles for the integrin receptor known as very late activation antigen (VLA)-4 in facilitating entry of CTLs to the brain tumor site. I have translated these discoveries into novel vaccine and immune-gene therapy clinical studies in both adult and pediatric brain tumor patients. I am a member in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2010-present), an honored society for physicians who promote laboratory science to the clinic. My current national and international leadership roles include: chair of the immunotherapy subgroup at the NCI-sponsored Adult Brain Tumor Consortium; a Steering Committee member of the Cancer Immunology Working Group in the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); a co-chair for Education Day at 2015 the Society for Neuro-Oncology annual meeting; and an Organizing Committee member for the 2015 Annual Meeting of the AACR.

Research Funding

  • December 15, 2017 - November 30, 2025 - Preclinical development of breakthrough immunotherapy for brain tumors, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NINDS, Sponsor Award ID: R35NS105068
  • July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2023 - Glioma immunotherapy targeting IDH mutation-derived epitope and immunosuppression, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NCI, Sponsor Award ID: R01CA222965
  • May 15, 2016 - March 31, 2021 - Novel K27M Mutation-derived Neoantigen for T Cell Therapy in Gliomas, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NINDS, Sponsor Award ID: R01NS096954
  • February 14, 2019 - January 31, 2021 - Pilot randomized neoadjuvant vaccine with CD27-costimulation in low-grade glioma, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NCI, Sponsor Award ID: R21CA233856

Education

Nagoya University School of Medicine-Japan, M.D., 1991, Medicine
Nagoya University School of Medicine-Japan, Ph.D., 1996, Medicine
Handa Municipal Hospital-Japan, Internship, Residency, 1991-1992
Nagoya University School of Medicine-Japan, Residency, 1992-1996, Neurosurgery

Honors & Awards

  • 1996
    Uehara Memorial Foundation Postdoctoral Scholarship
  • 1998
    First Place, Award for Scientific Excellence and Potential, 10th Annual University of Pittsburgh, Cancer Institute Scientific Retreat
  • 2001
    Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Clinical Scientist Development Award
  • 2003
    James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Science Initiative Research Award: Brain Cancer Research
  • 2007
    Excellence in Translational Medicine Award 2006-07 from Journal of Translational Medicine
  • 2008
    University of Pittsburgh Innovator Award
  • 2010
    Team Science Recognition Award by Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
  • 2011
    Faculty Honoree in the Annual Convocation of University of Pittsburgh

Selected Publications

  1. Simonds EF, Lu ED, Badillo O, Karimi S, Liu EV, Tamaki W, Rancan C, Downey KM, Stultz J, Sinha M, McHenry LK, Nasholm NM, Chuntova P, Sundström A, Genoud V, Shahani SA, Wang LD, Brown CE, Walker PR, Swartling FJ, Fong L, Okada H, Weiss WA, Hellström M. Deep immune profiling reveals targetable mechanisms of immune evasion in immune checkpoint inhibitor-refractory glioblastoma. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Jun; 9(6).  View on PubMed
  2. Ohkuri T, Kosaka A, Ikeura M, Salazar AM, Okada H. IFN-?- and IL-17-producing CD8+ T (Tc17-1) cells in combination with poly-ICLC and peptide vaccine exhibit antiglioma activity. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Jun; 9(6).  View on PubMed
  3. Choe JH, Watchmaker PB, Simic MS, Gilbert RD, Li AW, Krasnow NA, Downey KM, Yu W, Carrera DA, Celli A, Cho J, Briones JD, Duecker JM, Goretsky YE, Dannenfelser R, Cardarelli L, Troyanskaya O, Sidhu SS, Roybal KT, Okada H, Lim WA. SynNotch-CAR T cells overcome challenges of specificity, heterogeneity, and persistence in treating glioblastoma. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Apr 28; 13(591).  View on PubMed
  4. Chuntova P, Chow F, Watchmaker PB, Galvez M, Heimberger AB, Newell EW, Diaz A, DePinho RA, Li MO, Wherry EJ, Mitchell D, Terabe M, Wainwright DA, Berzofsky JA, Herold-Mende C, Heath JR, Lim M, Margolin KA, Chiocca EA, Kasahara N, Ellingson BM, Brown CE, Chen Y, Fecci PE, Reardon DA, Dunn GP, Liau LM, Costello JF, Wick W, Cloughesy T, Timmer WC, Wen PY, Prins RM, Platten M, Okada H. Unique challenges for glioblastoma immunotherapy-discussions across neuro-oncology and non-neuro-oncology experts in cancer immunology. Meeting Report from the 2019 SNO Immuno-Oncology Think Tank. Neuro Oncol. 2021 03 25; 23(3):356-375.  View on PubMed
  5. Mende AL, Schulte JD, Okada H, Clarke JL. Current Advances in Immunotherapy for Glioblastoma. Curr Oncol Rep. 2021 Jan 26; 23(2):21.  View on PubMed
  6. Wang L, Shamardani K, Babikir H, Catalan F, Nejo T, Chang S, Phillips JJ, Okada H, Diaz AA. The evolution of alternative splicing in glioblastoma under therapy. Genome Biol. 2021 Jan 26; 22(1):48.  View on PubMed
  7. Chapelin F, Leach BI, Chen R, Lister D, Messer K, Okada H, Ahrens ET. Assessing Oximetry Response to Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy against Glioma with 19F MRI in a Murine Model. Radiol Imaging Cancer. 2021 01; 3(1):e200062.  View on PubMed
  8. Nair S, Mazzoccoli L, Jash A, Govero J, Bais SS, Hu T, Fontes-Garfias CR, Shan C, Okada H, Shresta S, Rich JN, Shi PY, Diamond MS, Chheda MG. Zika virus oncolytic activity requires CD8+ T cells and is boosted by immune checkpoint blockade. JCI Insight. 2021 01 11; 6(1).  View on PubMed
  9. Crotty E, Downey K, Ferrerosa L, Flores C, Hegde B, Raskin S, Hwang E, Vitanza N, Okada H. Considerations when treating high-grade pediatric glioma patients with immunotherapy. Expert Rev Neurother. 2021 Feb; 21(2):205-219.  View on PubMed
  10. Mueller S, Taitt JM, Villanueva-Meyer JE, Bonner ER, Nejo T, Lulla RR, Goldman S, Banerjee A, Chi SN, Whipple NS, Crawford JR, Gauvain K, Nazemi KJ, Watchmaker PB, Almeida ND, Okada K, Salazar AM, Gilbert RD, Nazarian J, Molinaro AM, Butterfield LH, Prados MD, Okada H. Mass cytometry detects H3.3K27M-specific vaccine responses in diffuse midline glioma. J Clin Invest. 2020 12 01; 130(12):6325-6337.  View on PubMed
  11. Nejo T, Mende A, Okada H. The current state of immunotherapy for primary and secondary brain tumors: similarities and differences. Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2020 Oct 22; 50(11):1231-1245.  View on PubMed
  12. Ascierto PA, Bifulco C, Galon J, Garbe C, Khleif SN, McQuade J, Odunsi K, Okada H, Paulos CM, Quezada SA, Tawbi HA, Timmerman J, Trinchieri G, Butterfield LH, Puzanov I. The Great Debate at 'Immunotherapy Bridge', Naples, December 5, 2019. J Immunother Cancer. 2020 08; 8(2).  View on PubMed
  13. Kwok D, Okada H. T-Cell based therapies for overcoming neuroanatomical and immunosuppressive challenges within the glioma microenvironment. J Neurooncol. 2020 Apr; 147(2):281-295.  View on PubMed
  14. Montoya ML, Kasahara N, Okada H. Introduction to immunotherapy for brain tumor patients: challenges and future perspectives. Neurooncol Pract. 2020 Oct; 7(5):465-476.  View on PubMed
  15. Nejo T, Yamamichi A, Almeida ND, Goretsky YE, Okada H. Tumor antigens in glioma. Semin Immunol. 2020 02; 47:101385.  View on PubMed
  16. Mosaheb MM, Dobrikova EY, Brown MC, Yang Y, Cable J, Okada H, Nair SK, Bigner DD, Ashley DM, Gromeier M. Genetically stable poliovirus vectors activate dendritic cells and prime antitumor CD8 T cell immunity. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 27; 11(1):524.  View on PubMed
  17. Ascierto PA, Bifulco C, Buonaguro L, Emens LA, Ferris RL, Fox BA, Delgoffe GM, Galon J, Gridelli C, Merlano M, Nathan P, Odunsi K, Okada H, Paulos CM, Pignata S, Schalper KA, Spranger S, Tortora G, Zarour H, Butterfield LH, Puzanov I. Perspectives in immunotherapy: meeting report from the "Immunotherapy Bridge 2018" (28-29 November, 2018, Naples, Italy). J Immunother Cancer. 2019 11 29; 7(1):332.  View on PubMed
  18. Alcaide-Leon P, Luks TL, Lafontaine M, Lupo JM, Okada H, Clarke JL, Villanueva-Meyer JE. Treatment-induced lesions in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy and heat-shock protein vaccine therapy. J Neurooncol. 2020 Jan; 146(1):71-78.  View on PubMed
  19. Hingorani DV, Chapelin F, Stares E, Adams SR, Okada H, Ahrens ET. Cell penetrating peptide functionalized perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions for targeted cell labeling and enhanced fluorine-19 MRI detection. Magn Reson Med. 2020 03; 83(3):974-987.  View on PubMed
  20. Shraibman B, Barnea E, Kadosh DM, Haimovich Y, Slobodin G, Rosner I, López-Larrea C, Hilf N, Kuttruff S, Song C, Britten C, Castle J, Kreiter S, Frenzel K, Tatagiba M, Tabatabai G, Dietrich PY, Dutoit V, Wick W, Platten M, Winkler F, von Deimling A, Kroep J, Sahuquillo J, Martinez-Ricarte F, Rodon J, Lassen U, Ottensmeier C, van der Burg SH, Thor Straten P, Poulsen HS, Ponsati B, Okada H, Rammensee HG, Sahin U, Singh H, Admon A. Identification of Tumor Antigens Among the HLA Peptidomes of Glioblastoma Tumors and Plasma. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2019 06; 18(6):1255-1268.  View on PubMed

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