Roddy O'Connor, BSc, MS, PhD

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

Contact InformationPerelman School of Medicine
3400 Civic Center Blvd
8-105 South Pavilion Extension
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

Graduate Groups

Cell and Molecular Biology
Genomics and Computational Biology


BSc (Exercise Physiology), University of Limerick, 1997
MS (Muscle Metabolism), Georgia State University, 1999
PhD (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
Guest Editor (Antibodies Journal): Special Issue on CAR T-cell metabolism, 2021-2021
Developed a customized CAR T-cell culture medium (NB-ROC), marketed by Nucleus Biologics, 2021

Memberships and Professional Organizations

The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), 2011 - Present
The American Society for Cell and Gene Therapy, 2018 - present
National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2019 - Present
The Physiological Society, 2020 - 2021

Web Links

Selected Publications

Metabolic and epigenetic orchestration of (CAR) T cell fate and function

Akbari B, Hosseini Z, Shahabinejad P, Ghassemi S, Mirzaei HR, O'Connor RS., Cancer Lett 550(): 215948, 2022, PMID:36209973

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Targeting PARP11 to avert immunosuppression and improve CAR T therapy in solid tumors

Zhang H, Yu P, Tomar VS, Chen X, Atherton MJ, Lu Z, Zhang HG, Li S, Ortiz A, Gui J, Leu NA, Yan F, Blanco A, Meyer-Ficca ML, Meyer RG, Beiting DP, Li J, Nunez-Cruz S, O'Connor RS, Johnson LR, Minn AJ, George SS, Koumenis C, Diehl JA, Milone MC, Zheng H, Fuchs SY., Nat Cancer 3(7): 808-820, 2022, PMID:35637402

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Rapid manufacturing of non-activated potent CAR T cells

Ghassemi S, Durgin JS, Nunez-Cruz S, Patel J, Leferovich J, Pinzone M, Shen F, Cummins KD, Plesa G, Cantu VA, Reddy S, Bushman FD, Gill SI, O'Doherty U, O'Connor RS, Milone MC., Nat Biomed Eng 6(2): 118-128, 2022, PMID:35190680

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Enhancing CAR T Function with the Engineered Secretion of C. Perfringens Neuraminidase

Durgin JS, Thokala R, Johnson L, Song E, Leferovich J, Bhoj V, Ghassemi S, Milone M, Binder Z, O'Rourke DM, O'Connor RS., Mol Ther 30(): 1201-1214, 2021, PMID:34813961

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Recent Metabolic Advances for Preventing and Treating Acute and Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease

Mohamed FA, Thangavelu G, Rhee SY, Sage PT, O'Connor RS, Rathmell JC, Blazar BR., Front Immunol 12(): 757836, 2021, PMID:34712243

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CAR T-Cells Depend on the Coupling of NADH Oxidation with ATP Production

Garcia-Canaveras JC, Heo D, Trefely S, Leferovich J, Xu C, Philipson BI, Ghassemi S, Milone MC, Moon EK, Snyder NW, June CH, Rabinowitz JD, O'Connor RS., Cells 10(9): 2334, 2021, PMID:34571983

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In Like a Lamb; Out Like a Lion: Marching CAR T Cells Toward Enhanced Efficacy in B-ALL

Safarzadeh Kozani P, Safarzadeh Kozani P, O'Connor RS., Mol Cancer Ther 20(7): 1223-1233, 2021, PMID:33903140

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Beyond the Lactate Paradox: How Lactate and Acidity Impact T Cell Therapies against Cancer

Tu VY, Ayari A, O'Connor RS., Antibodies (Basel) 10(3): 25, 2021, PMID:34203136

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Case Report: Prolonged Survival Following EGFRvIII CAR T Cell Treatment for Recurrent Glioblastoma

Durgin JS, Henderson F Jr, Nasrallah MP, Mohan S, Wang S, Lacey SF, Melenhorst JJ, Desai AS, Lee JYK, Maus MV, June CH, Brem S, O'Connor RS, Binder Z, O'Rourke DM., Front Oncol 11(): 669071, 2021, PMID:34026647

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CAR-T cell-mediated depletion of immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages promotes endogenous antitumor immunity and augments adoptive immunotherapy

Rodriguez-Garcia A, Lynn RC, Poussin M, Eiva MA, Shaw LC, O'Connor RS, Minutolo NG, Casado-Medrano V, Lopez G, Matsuyama T, Powell DJ Jr., Nat Commun 12(1): 877, 2021, PMID:33563975

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