Roderick O'Connor, BSc, MS, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Contact Information3400 Civic Center Blvd
8-105 SPE
Perelman School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA, 19104


Research Expertise

CAR-T cell metabolism; T cell activation, proliferation and differentiation; Lentiviral, retroviral and mRNA-based gene transfer; Post-transcriptional gene suppression by shRNA and microRNA's; Bio-engineered cell culture platforms; Tissue stem cell differentiation;

Clinical Expertise

Clinical Research Coordinator

Other Expertise

Biomedical Expert (Local News Affiliate)

Itmat Expertise

Adoptive immunotherapy, CAR-T cell genetic metabolism, T cell genetic engineering (Chimeric Antigen Receptors), T cell differentiation


B.Sc. (Exercise Physiology), University of Limerick, 1997
M.S. (Clinical Exercise Physiology), Georgia State University, 1999
Ph.D. (Molecular Pharmacology), Emory University School of Medicine, 2007

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Scholar in Cancer Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 2007-2010
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Immunology, University of Pennsylvania, 2010-2012

Awards and Honors

President's Letter for Outstanding Academic Achievement (University of Limerick), 1993
President's Letter for Outstanding Academic Achievement (University of Limerick), 1994
Pre-doctoral Travel Award American Society of Cell Biology, Annual Mtg. Washington, DC, 2004
Young Investigator's Award for Excellence in Research (FASEB conference: Skeletal Muscle Satellite and Stem cells Conference, Tucson, AZ.), 2005
Postdoctoral Fellowship (Alex's Lemonade Foundation), 2010-2012
The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Young Investigator Award at the Translational Research Cancer Center Consortium, Pittsburgh, PA., 2015
NIH Reviewer, Special Emphasis Panel "Metabolic reprogramming to improve Immunotherapy, 2019-2019
NIH Reviewer, Special Emphasis Panel "Mammalian models for translational research", 2020-2020

Memberships and Professional Organizations

The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), 2011 - Present
The American Society for Cell and Gene Therapy, 2018 - present

Web Links

Selected Publications

Imaging CAR T Cell Trafficking with eDFHR as a PET Reporter Gene

Sellmyer, M.A., Richman, S.A., Lohith, K., Hou, C., Weng, C-C, Mach, R.H., O'Connor, R.S., Milone, M.C., and Farwell, M.D., Molecular Therapy, 2020

Enhancing Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Anti-tumor Function through Advanced Media Design

Ghassemi, S., Martinez-Becerra, F. J., Master, A. M., Richman, S. A., Heo, D., Leferovich, J., Tu, Y., Garcia-Canaveras, J. C., Ayari, A., Lu, Y., Wang, A., Rabinowitz, J. D., Milone, M. C., June, C. H., O'Connor, R. S., Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev 18(): 595-606, 2020

4-1BB costimulation promotes CAR T cell survival through noncanonical NF-kappaB signaling

Philipson, B. I., O'Connor, R. S., May, M. J., June, C. H., Albelda, S. M., Milone, M. C., Sci Signal 13(625): , 2020

Human chimeric antigen receptor macrophages for cancer immunotherapy

Klichinsky, M., Ruella, M., Shestova, O., Lu, X. M., Best, A., Zeeman, M., Schmierer, M., Gabrusiewicz, K., Anderson, N. R., Petty, N. E., Cummins, K. D., Shen, F., Shan, X., Veliz, K., Blouch, K., Yashiro-Ohtani, Y., Kenderian, S. S., Kim, M. Y., O'Connor, R. S., Wallace, S. R., Kozlowski, M. S., Marchione, D. M., Shestov, M., Garcia, B. A., June, C. H., Gill, S., Nat Biotechnol 38(8): 947-953, 2020

Testing the Specificity of Compounds Designed to Inhibit CPT1A in T cells

O'Connor, R.S. and Milone, M.C., Methods Molecular Biology 2097(): , 2020

Metabolic rewiring of macrophages by CpG potentiates clearance of cancer cells and overcomes tumor-expressed CD47-mediated "don't-eat-me" signal.

Liu M, O'Connor RS, Trefely S, Graham K, Snyder NW, Beatty GL., Nature Immunology 20(3): 265-275, 2019

Reducing Ex Vivo Culture Improves the Antileukemic Activity of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells

Ghassemi S, Nunez-Cruz S, O'Connor RS, Fraietta JA, Patel PR, Scholler J, Barrett DM, Lundh SM, Davis MM, Bedoya F, Zhang C, Leferovich J, Lacey SF, Levine BL, Grupp SA, June CH, Melenhorst JJ, Milone MC., Cancer Immunology Research 6(9): 1100-1109, 2018

Determinants of response and resistance to CD19 chimeric antigen receptor(CAR) T cell therapy of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Fraietta, J.A., Lacey, S.F., Orlando, E.J., Pruteanu-Malinici, I., Gohil, M., Lundh, S., Boesteanu, A.C., Wang, y., O'Connor, R.S., Hwang, W.T., Pequignot, E., Ambrose, D.E., Zhang, C., Wilcox, N., Bedoya, F., Dorfmeier, C., Chen, F., Tian, L., Parakandi, H., Gupta, M., Young, R.M., Johnson, F.B., Kulikovskaya, I., Liu, L., Xu, J., Kassim, S.H., Davis, M.M., Levine, B.L., Frey, N.V., Siegel, D.L., Huang, A.C., Wherry, E.J., Bitter, H., Brogdon, J.L., Porter, D.L., June, C.H., Melenhorst, J.J., Nature Medicine 24(5): 563-571, 2018

The CPT1a inhibitor, etomoxir induces severe oxidative stress at commonly used concentrations.

O'Connor, R.S., Guo, L., Ghassemi, S., Snyder, N.W., Worth, A.J., Weng, L., Kam, Y., Philipson, B., Trefely, S., Nunez-Cruz, S., Blair, I.A., June, C.H., and Milone, M.C., Scientific Reports 8(1): e6289, 2018

CAR T cell immunotherapy for human cancer.

June, C.H., O’Connor, R.S., Kawalekar, O.U., Ghassemi, S., and Milone, M.C.,, Science Immunology 359(6382): 1361-1365, 2018