"My laboratory develops ways to image and control cellular function noninvasively using magnetic fields and sound waves. I am really excited to work with The Sontag Foundation to apply some of these technologies to brain cancer. This is an area that needs breakthroughs and offers a great opportunity for us to see how our technologies can help. I am thrilled to be part of the Sontag family and grateful for the Distinguished Scientist Award."

- Dr. Mikhail G. Shapiro

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Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

About DSA-Funded Research

Immunotherapy is a breakthrough approach to treating cancer that uses the body’s own immune cells to recognize, attack and eradicate tumors. This approach has shown remarkable efficacy in several types of cancer, and has the potential to benefit patients with brain tumors. However, a major issue limiting the effectiveness of immunotherapy is the scarcity of tumor-specific molecular targets that can help immune cells distinguish tumors from normal tissues. Without such targets, immunotherapy attacks both the cancer and healthy organs, leading to severe and sometimes fatal side effects. We propose to overcome this challenge for the treatment of glioblastoma by guiding immunotherapy noninvasively. This unique approach will combine advances in molecular and cellular engineering with physics to create a new class of cellular therapies that can be “told” where they are in the body. If successful, this technology will allow immune cells to execute strong anti-tumor functions precisely at the tumor location, while sparing healthy brain tissue and other organs from toxic side-effects.


"Mikhail’s research is focused on observing and manipulating the chemistry of living organisms using reporter genes for magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging. His work is geared toward doing for MRI and ultrasound what green fluorescent proteins did for optical imaging. He is one of the brightest young stars in the multidisciplinary field of molecular imaging."

Dr. Jacqueline K. Barton
California Institute of Technology

"Mikhail is among the four most talented people I have had in our group, and he has the total package of qualities necessary for success in academia. He is highly intelligent and creative, and he recognizes novel opportunities at the interface between fields."

Dr. David V. Schaffer
University of California, Berkeley


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