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Leonardo Ferreira

Also known as: Leo
Education: Harvard University
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    Cell-based gene therapies offer unprecedented promise for medicine. One day, it may be possible to cure degenerative diseases that consist of the loss of one or several specialized cell functions, as well as to decelerate the deterioration our bodies experience during aging. However, several hurdles must be surpassed in order to establish cell transplantation therapies, a major one being rejection by the recipient's immune system. This challenge is particularly prominent for autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, where the immune system mediates the destruction of self-tissues. My Ph.D. thesis work, carried out in the laboratories of Jack Strominger and Chad Cowan (Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology) at Harvard University, focused on understanding immune tolerance using pregnancy as a model, as well as developing new tools to interrogate our immune system at the genetic level. Currently, I am a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratories of Jeff Bluestone (Diabetes Center) and Qizhi Tang (Department of Surgery) at the University of California San Francisco. I envision that we will be able to use our capacity to engineer the human genome with high precision and efficiency to manipulate our immune system, enabling us to treat several devastating illnesses now labeled as incurable. I am highly committed to make that vision become a reality.


    University of California, San Francisco


    Harvard University, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

    University of Coimbra, Department of Biochemistry

    Self description

    Manipulating human regulatory T cells (Tregs) offers the unprecedented opportunity to induce tolerance in a clinical setting, potentially providing cures for autoimmune disease and transplant rejection. However, vanishingly low numbers of antigen-specific Tregs and Treg instability upon prolonged expansion have hampered the implementation of Treg-based therapies. My goal is to design the next generation of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to help realize the promise of Treg therapy.