Special Profile: 2010 TTS-Astellas Young Investigator Awards


Ten TTS-Astellas Young Investigator Awards were presented to TTS members with the highest scoring abstracts during the Vancouver Congress. TTS has been profiling the award winners throughout the year in Tribune.



Faisal Khan is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Khan’s research is focussed on the areas of transplantation immunology, histocompatibility and immunogenetics. He has published more than 40 research articles and reviews in reputed scientific journals including Blood, Transplantation, and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Dr. Khan received a Young Investigator Award for his abstract entitled Genomic Instability after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) is Frequent in Oral Mucosa, Particularly in Patients with a History of Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease (GVHD), and Rare in Nasal Mucosa. In this study, his research group has shown that genomic instability after HCT occurs exclusively in allogeneic HCT recipients and it occurs frequently in oral but rarely in nasal epithelia. Further, the study showed that occurrence of genomic instability is significantly associated with the history of chronic GVHD. This may explain why carcinoma after HCT frequently involves some (especially those involved with cGVHD e.g., oral) but not other (e.g., nasal) epithelia. Dr. Khan received this award while working as a Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Fellow at the University of Calgary.



Kate Markey was granted a Young Investigator Award for her paper introducing GVHD-associated immune suppression is the result of an intrinsic defect in MHC class II antigen presentation within donor DC. Her work aimed to define the mechanism underlying this immuno-suppression by using mouse models of experimental GVHD.

Her data confirm that GVHD-induced immune suppression is a consequence of an intrinsic acquired defect in MHC class II antigen presentation within cDC. This represents a paradigm shift in the understanding of the infective complications of transplantation and suggests that alloreactivity per se is the major factor responsible for pathogen associated morbidity and mortality.

Dr. Markey completed the MBBS/PhD program at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia in 2010. Her PhD was conducted in the Bone Marrow Transplantation Laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (under the supervision of Prof. Geoff Hill and Dr. Kelli MacDonald). This resulted in a number of publications, as both a first author and co-author in journals including Nature Medicine, Blood, and The Journal of Immunology. At this stage, she intends to continue her clinical training and pursue her research interests, with the overall goal of developing a career as a clinician-researcher.



Susumu Shibasaki was granted a Young Investigator Award for his abstract entitled A Single Infusion of the Ex-vivo Generated Immuno-Regulatory Dendritic Cells under a Novel Agent, NK026680 Markedly Prolongs Cardiac Allograft Survival. NK026680 treated dendritic cells (NK-DCs) acquired immuno-regulatory properties that suppress allo-immune responses, and this modulation on NK-DCs was associated with inhibition of p38-MAPK phosphorylation but upregulation of IDO expression. Further, a single in vivo infusion of NK-DCs significantly increased the proportion of regulatory T cells such as Tr1 cells and CD4+ CD25+ FoxP3+ T-cells, and markedly prolonged cardiac allograft survival. Thus, he believes that infusion therapy with DCs modulated by ex vivo NK026680 conditioning has great potential as a treatment modality for the prevention of allograft rejection by enhancing immunoregulatory function.

Dr. Shibasaki was born in Japan, graduated from the School of Medicine at Hokkaido University, and is a general surgical registrar at Hokkaido University Hospital. In 2008, he began his PhD studies in the transplantation research group of Prof. Todo. Currently, his research focuses on the immunoregulatory effects of ex-vivo generated dendritic cells.