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Pillai Lab

Innate Immune Regulation, Transplantation Tolerance, and Immunotherapy

Research Focus

The Pillai group was first to discover innate-adaptive networks inducing histocompatibility-mismatched stem cell transplant (SCT) tolerance, defining the role of invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) in setting up myeloid and Foxp3+Tregulatory cell activity and regulating GVHD while maintaining graft-versus-tumor activity (GVT). This has successfully translated to novel SCT techniques for children and adults nationally. The group is developing novel haplo-SCT strategies and iNKT immunotherapies for cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmunity.

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Latest Publications


  • Andrews K, Hamers AAJ, Sun X, Neale G, Verbist K, Tedrick P, Nichols KE, Pereira S, Geraghty D, *Pillai A. Anti-CD2/CD3/CD28 stimulation augments cytokine secretion and anti-tumor cytotoxicity by regulatory human invariant NKT cells expanded ex vivo. Cytotherapy 2020; Mar 29. pii: S1465-3249(20)30015-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2020.01.011. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 32238299.
  • Khatwani N, *Pillai A. Cis interactions make immune checkpoint blockade more trans-parent. Science Immunology 2020; Jan 02; 5(43), pii: eaba7107. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aba7107. PMID: 31901070.
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