University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Upasana Arvindam

Thesis Advisor: Jeff Miller

Year entered: 2016

Degrees received:
B.S., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2014
MSc, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany 2016

Honors and awards:

  • $1000 award to attend NSF workshop on Crowdsourcing Innovation

Thesis Research:

My projects focus on developing  Natural Killer (NK) cell based cancer immunotherapy. To target cancer cells using Natural Killer (NK) cells, our lab developed a tri-specific killer engager (TriKE) molecule containing an anti-CD16 heavy chain antibody that activates NK cells, an IL-15 molecule that drives NK cell priming, expansion and survival, and an anti-CLEC12A single chain variable fragment (scFv) that engages cancer targets. CLEC12A is a cancer stem cell marker present on myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cells. This TriKE has great translational significance against cancers whose survival rates have not changes over the last en years.

I am also interested in metabolic changes of NK cells in the tumor microenvironment. A second project focuses on understanding how chronic cytokine signaling, specifically IL-15 signaling, impacts metabolism of NK cells. To address this question, I will be conducting a metabolomics analysis of NK cells to identify metabolites whose levels are changes during an exhausted state.