Saba Ghassemi, PhD

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

Contact InformationCenter for Cellular Immunotherapies
3400 Civic Center Blvd
9-101 SPE
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tel: 215-898-5040


Specialty Division

Laboratory Medicine, Cancer and Immunobiology

Research Expertise

Engineering quiescent Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells for adoptive immunotherapy; Developing genetic approaches to enhance CAR T cell function in solid tumors; Designing novel culture platforms to improve CAR T cell function and differentiation

Itmat Expertise

CAR T cells, Adoptive immunotherapy, Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, Nano-engineered cell culture platforms, Microfluidics


B.Sc. (Mechanical Engineering), K.N.T. University of Technology, 2001
M.Sc. (Mechanical Engineering), Villanova University, 2004
M.Phil. (Mechanical Engineering), Columbia University, 2010
Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), Columbia University, 2011

Specialty Certification

Certified to work at class 1000 clean room facilities at Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facilities, 2011
ISCT-ASTCT Cell Therapy Training Course, 2019

Postgraduate Training

Associate Researcher, Mechanical Engineering Department, Columbia University, 2011-2014
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 2011-2016
Research Associate, Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 2016-2020

Awards and Honors

Travel Grant Award, EIPBN, 2008
Research Grant, EMPA - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, 2008
Travel Grant Award, EIPBN, 2010
Winner, Best Video Micrograph at EIPBN, 2010
Travel Grant Award, Biophysical Society, 54th Annual Meeting, 2010
Travel Grant Award, Cellular System, Heidelberg, Germany, 2011
Travel Grant Award, The American Association of Immunologists Annual Meeting, 2016
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Award, 2018
ISCT-ASTCT Cell Therapy Training Course Scholar, 2019
National Blood Foundation Early Career Scientific Research Award, 2019
Department of Defense Career Development Award, 2020

Memberships and Professional Organizations

American Association of Immunologists, 2011 - Present
The New York Academy of Sciences, 2013 - Present
American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy: ASGCT, 2016 - Present
National Institute for Ißnnovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), 2017 - Present
International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT), 2019 - Present

Web Links

Selected Publications

Computational model of CAR T-cell immunotherapy dissects and predicts leukemia patient responses at remission, resistance, and relapse

Lunan Liu, Chao Ma, Zhuoyu Zhang, Matthew T Witkowski, Iannis Aifantis, Saba Ghassemi, Weiqiang Chen, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 2022, PMID:36600553

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

Behnia Akbari, Zahra Hosseini, Pardis Shahabinejad, SabaGhassemi, Hamid RezaMirzaei, Roddy S.O'Connor, Cancer Letters, 2022

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

Joseph S Durgin, Radhika Thokala, Lexus Johnson, Edward Song, John Leferovich 1, Vijay Bhoj, Saba Ghassemi, Michael Milone, Zev Binder, Donald M O'Rourke, Roddy S O'Connor, Molecular therapy, 2022, PMID:34813961

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Rapid manufacturing of non-activated potent CAR T cells

Saba Ghassemi, Joseph S. Durgin, Selene Nunez-Cruz, Jai Patel, John Leferovich1, Marilia Pinzone, Feng Shen, Katherine D. Cummins, Gabriela Plesa, Vito Adrian Cantu, Shantan Reddy, Frederic D. Bushman, Saar I. Gill, Una O'Doherty, Roddy S. O’Connor, Michael C. Milone, Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2022, PMID:35190680

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Genetic Modification of Cytokine Signaling to Enhance Efficacy of CAR T Cell Therapy in Solid Tumors

Navid Ghahri-Saremi, Behnia Akbari, Tahereh Soltantoyeh, Jamshid Hadjati, Saba Ghassemi, Hamid Reza Mirzaei1, Front. Immunol, 2021

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

Juan C Garcia-Canaveras, David Heo, Sophie Trefely, John Leferovich, Chong Xu, Benjamin I Philipson, Saba Ghassemi, Michael C Milone, Edmund K Moon, Nathaniel W Snyder, Carl H June, Joshua D Rabinowitz, Roddy S O'Connor, Cells, 2021, PMID:34571983

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Epigenetic strategies to boost CAR T cell therapy

Behnia Akbari, Navid Ghahri-Saremi, Tahereh Soltantoyeh, Jamshid Hadjati, Saba Ghassemi, Hamid Reza Mirzaei, Molecular Therapy, 2021, PMID:34365035

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Enhancing Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T cell anti-tumor function through advanced media design

Saba Ghassemi, Francisco J. Martinez-Becerra, Alyssa M. Master, Sarah A. Richman, David Heo, John Leferovich, Yitao Tu, Juan Carlos Garcia-Canaveras, Asma Ayari, Yinan Lu, Ai Wang, Joshua D. Rabinowitz, Michael C. Milone, Roddy S. O’Connor, Molecular Therapy Methods & clinical Development 18(no issue number): 595-606, 2020, PMID:32775494

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Manufacturing Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy

Saba Ghassemi, Michael C Milone, Journal of Visualized Experiments 154(no issue number): no page number, 2019, PMID:31904011

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Reducing Ex Vivo Culture Improves the Anti-leukemic 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, Leferovich J, Lacey SF, Levine BL, Grupp SA, June CH, Melenhorst JJ, Milone MC, Cancer Immunol Res 6(9): 1100-1109, 2018, PMID:30030295

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