Daniel J. Powell Jr., PhD

Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Contact InformationUniversity of Pennsylvania
3400 Civic Center Blvd.
Bldg. 421, TRC Rm 8-103
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5156
Office: 215-573-4783
Fax: 215-573-5129


Specialty Division

Transfusion Medicine & Therapeutic Pathology

Research Expertise

The Powell Lab is actively investigating the application of immune-based therapy for cancer. Building on interrogations in basic T cell biology in the lab, bench-to-bedside translational immunology is being developed, with a strong focus on T cell-based therapy for ovarian cancer.

One obstacle to successful immunotherapy is the lack of highly avid, tumor-reactive T cells in multiple cancers. One current focus of the Powell lab is to generate/isolate high avidity, tumor-reactive T cells from heterogenous tumor infiltrating lymphocyte populations in traditionally "non-immunogenic" cancers utilizing novel culture conditions and T cell capture techniques. This in turn will permit downstream studies of T cell receptor (TCR) isolation, cancer antigen identification and molecular characterization of naturally occurring tumor-reactive T cells in human cancer.

A secondary field of study is the de novo generation of tumor-reactive T cells through genetic engineering methods. One approach relies on the isolation and cloning of T cell receptors (TCRs) that confer non-reactive T cells with specific and potent immune function following gene transfer via recombinant lentivirus or retrovirus. Another approach relies upon the use of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that confer T cells with the MHC-independent specificity of a tumor antigen-specific antibody and potent T cell activity delivered by TCR and costimulatory domains. The Powell Lab also employs the CAR approach to test the function of novel costimulatory signals in anti-tumor immunity.

Other current efforts include the exploration of immunomodulation to potentiate endogenous antitumor T cell responses, use of bispecific antibodies, pharmacological sensitization of tumor cells to immune attack, tumor vasculature targeting, preclinical validations, clinical translation and trial support.

Current Powell Lab Personnel:
- Dr. Alba Rodriguez Garcia, Post-doctoral Investigator
- Dr. Anze Smole, Post-doctoral Investigator
- Dr. Sarah Gitto, Post-doctoral Investigator
- Dr. Wei Xie, Visiting Physician Scholar
- Dr. Jie Wang, Hem Onc Fellow, MTR
- Nicholas Minutolo, Ph.D. candidate (PGG)
- Monika Eiva, Ph.D. candidate (CB)
- Dr. Allison Roy, Ob Gyn Fellow
- Dr. Wei Xie, visiting physician
- Dr. Mathilde Poussin, Lab Manager
- Prannda Sharma, Project Manager

Previous Lab Members:
- Dr. Degang Song, M.D., Ph.D. (Intrexon)
- Dr. Katarzyna Urbanska (BMS)
- Dr. Jessica Chacon, Ph.D. (Merck)
- Dr. Rachel Lynn, Ph.D.(Stanford)
- Dr. Jenessa Smith, Ph.D. (Poseida)
- Dr. Keith Schutsky, Ph.D. (BMS)
- Dr. Evripidis Lanitis, Ph.D. (Lausanne)
- Dr. Phillip Santoiemma (Northwestern)
- Dr. Caitlin Stashwick (Lancaster County)
- Dr. Xiaojun Xu, M.D.
- Dr. Qunrui Ye, Ph.D.
- Dr. Gen Shen Zhong,M.D.
- Shree Joshi, (BMS)

Clinical Expertise

Itmat Expertise

Cancer immunotherapy with a focus on adoptive T cell transfer and cancer vaccination.


A.A. (Liberal Arts), Delaware County Community College, 1991
A.S. (Natural Science), Delaware County Community College, 1993
B.S. (Biology / Pre-Medicine), Cabrini College, 1995
Ph.D. (Immunology), Thomas Jefferson University, 2002

Specialty Certification

Penn Medicine Office of Organizational Effectiveness,
Supervisory Skills Certificate, 2010

Postgraduate Training

Research Fellow, Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 2002-2007

Awards and Honors

Sigma Zeta Honorary Science Society, 1995
Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, 1995
Keystone Symposia Scholarship, 2000
Thomas Jefferson Alumni Fellowship, 2001
Kimmel Cancer Institute Training Committee Representative, Thomas Jefferson University, 2001
NCI Fellows Award for Research Excellence, 2003
NCI Postdoctoral Research Fellow Representative to the AAAS, 2005
NCI Exceptional Pay Increase Award, 2005
NCI CCR Fellows & Young Investigators Award, 2007
Member, Strategic Planning Committee for Translational Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, 2007
NCI Exceptional Pay Increase Award, 2007
Full Member, American Association for Cancer Research, 2008
University Nominee and Recipient of the W.W.Smith Charitable Trust Award, 2009
The Philadelphia Antique Show, selection of the Cellular Therapy Tissue Facility to receive $650K in construction-related funds., 2010
Election to International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (ISBTc), 2010
The International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) Presidential Travel Award; ISBTc (Ph.D. candidate Evripidis Lanitis to present), 2010-2010
Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC); Travel Award; (Ph.D. candidate Evripidis Lanitis), 2011
Outstanding New Investigator Award, American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT), 2014
The Teal Trailblazer Award, The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation, 2015
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Fellow, 2017
Emerging Inventor of the Year Award; Penn Center for Innovation, 2018
Innovation Challenge Award, OvaCure., 2020
2021 Distinguished Career Alumni Award, Jefferson College of Life Sciences (JCLS) Alumni Association at Thomas Jefferson University., 2021-2021
2021 Distinguished Alumni Award, Jefferson College of Life Sciences (JCLS) Alumni Association, Thomas Jefferson University, 2021

Memberships and Professional Organizations

Ovarian Cancer Research Center, 2007 - present
Translational Research Cancer Center Consortium (TRCCC), 2008 - Present
Abramson Cancer Center, 2008 - present
Human Immunology Core Advisory Board, 2008 - 2012
Immunology Graduate Group, 2008 - present
American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), 2008 - present
Gene Therapy and Vaccine Program Graduate Group, 2009 - present
ITMAT, 2009 - present
International Society for Cellular Therapy, 2009 - present
ATCC, 2009 - 2010
Gene Therapy and Vaccine Program, 2009 - Present
Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group, 2009 - present
Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), 2010 - present
National Cancer Institute; Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group 2011/01 ZRG1 OTC-X (14) B - Small Business: Experimental Cancer Therapeutics, 2010 - 2010
American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, 2010 - Present
Institute For Immunology, 2010 - present
National Cancer Institute (NCI/NIH), NCI funding opportunity (NOT-CA-10-025) “Administrative Supplements to Advance Special Translational Research Acceleration Projects on Immune Response Modifiers”, 2010 - 2010
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Small Business: Experimental Cancer Therapeutics., 2010 - 2010
NLHBI-Sponsored Production Assistance for Cellular Therapies (PACT), 2011 - 2020
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cancer Diagnostics and Treatments (CDT) SBIR/STTR Review Panel Member, 2011 - Present
International Consorcium for Cell Therapy and Immunotherapy (ICCTI), Brno, Czech Republic, 2011 - 2014
Genesis Biopharma, Inc., 2011 - 2013
Folate Receptor Society, 2012 - Present
University of Pittsburgh, 2012 - 2012
The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, 2012 - Present
Alliance of Glycobiology Glycomics Laboratory for the Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer, 2012 - 2015
NIH National Cancer Institute Program Project (P01)- reviewer status withdraw due to conflict (multiple PENN members on board)., 2012 - 2012
Basser Research Center for BRCA, 2013 - 2016
Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), 2013 - 2013
Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, 2013 - Present
PENN Institute for Immunology, 2013 - Present
Lion Biotechnologies, Inc., 2014 - 2017
The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding), 2014 - 2014
PSOM Limited Applications Committee, 2014 - 2014
NIH Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy (CII) study section, 2014 - 2014
Ovarian Cancer Working Group within the PENN/Novartis Alliance, 2014 - 2017
NRG Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), Immunotherapy Committee., 2015 - Present
Graduate Group in Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania., 2015 - Present
Neon Therapeutics, 2015 - 2017
Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, 2015 - Present
Terry Fox Research Institute, 2016 - Present
Marsha Rivkin Ovarian Cancer Foundation, 2016 - 2016
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 2016 - 2017
Pan-Canadian immunotherapy NeTwork (iTNT), 2016 - present
NIH National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) study section, 2017 - 2017
Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Mentoring Program, 2017 - Present
PENN/Novartis Alliance on CAR T cell Therapy, 2017 - 2018
NIH; NCI Program Project IV (P01) Review, 2017 - 2017
PO1 grant on Mesothelioma CAR Therapy (Albelda), 2018 - Present
UPenn Cell and Vaccine Production Facility (CVPF), 2018 - Present
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc, 2019 - Present
InsTIL Therapeutics, 2019 - Present
Department of Defense (DoD) Ovarian Cancer Academy (OCA), 2020 - Present
NIH Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section, 2020 - present
Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research's (CIBMTR)Cellular Immunotherapy Data Research (CIDR) expanded Cellular Therapy for Solid Tumors(CTST)Task Force., 2020 - Present
Comparative Oncology Research Consortium (CORC), 2020 - Present

Web Links

Selected Publications

CD137 accurately identifies and enriches for naturally-occurring tumor-reactive T cells in tumor

Ye Q, Song D, Poussin M, Yamamoto T, Best A, Li C, Coukos C and Powell, DJ Jr., Clinical Cancer Research 20(1): 44-55, 2014

Autologous lysate-pulsed dendritic cell vaccination followed by adoptive transfer of vaccine-primed ex vivo co-stimulated T cells in recurrent ovarian cancer

Kandalaft L.E.*, Powell D.J. Jr.*, Chiang C.L., Tanyi J., Kim S., Bosch M., Montone K., Mick R., Levine B.L., Torigian D.A., June C.H. and Coukos C., Oncoimmunology 2(1): e22664, 2013

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells with Dissociated Signaling Domains Exhibit Focused Antitumor Activity with Reduced Potential for Toxicity In Vivo

Lanitis E, Poussin M, Klattenhoff AW, Song D, Sandaltzopoulos R, June CH, and Powell DJ Jr., Cancer Immunology Research 1(1): 43-53, 2013, PMID:24409448

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A universal strategy for adoptive immunotherapy of cancer through use of a novel T cell antigen receptor

Urbanska, K., Lanitis, E., Poussin, M., Lynn, R., Gavin, B.P., Kelderman, S., Yu, J., Scholler, N. and Powell, D.J., Jr., Cancer Research 72(7): 1844-52, 2012

Chimeric NKG2D CAR expressing T cell-mediated attack of human ovarian cancer is enhanced by HDAC inhibition.

Song D, Ye Q, Santoro S, Fang C, Best A, Powell Jr. DJ., Human Gene Therapy, 2013

CD27 costimulation augments the survival and anti-tumor activity of redirected human T cells in vivo

Song, D., Ye, Q., Poussin, M., Harms, G.M., Figini, M., and Powell, D.J., Jr., Blood 119(3): 696-706, 2012

Development of a Novel Universal Immune Receptor for Antigen Targeting: to Infinity and Beyond

Urbanska, K. and Powell, D.J. Jr., Oncoimmunology 1(5): 777-779, 2012

Redirected anti-tumor activity of primary human lymphocytes transduced with a fully-human anti-mesothelin chimeric receptor

Lanitis, E., Poussin, M., Hagemann, I.S., Coukos, G., Sandaltzopoulos, R., Scholler N. and Powell, D.J., Jr., Molecular Therapy 20(3): 633-43, 2012

CD25 Blockade Depletes and Selectively Reprograms Regulatory T Cells in Concert with Immunotherapy in Cancer Patients.

Rech, A.J., Mick, R., Martin, S., Recio, A., Aqui, N.A., Powell, D.J., Jr., Colligon, T.A., Trosko, J.A., Leinbach, L.I., Pletcher, C.H., Tweed, C.K., Demichele, A., Fox, K.R., Domchek, S.M., Riley, J.L., Vonderheide, R.H., Science Translational Medicine 4(134): 134ra62, 2012

In vivo persistence, tumor localization and anti-tumor activity of CIR engineered T cells is enhanced by costimulatory signaling through CD137 (4-1BB).

Song, D., Ye, Q., Carpenito, C., Poussin, M., Wang, L-P., Ji, C., Figini, M., June, C.H., Coukos, G. and Powell, D.J., Jr., Cancer Research 71(13): 4617-27. , 2011

Expression of a Functional CCR2 Receptor Enhances Tumor Localization and Eradication by Human T Cells Expressing a Mesothelin-Specific Chimeric Antibody Receptor.

Moon, E.K., Carpenito, C., Sun, J., Wang, L.C., Kapoor, V., Predina, J.D., Powell, D.J., Jr., Riley, J.L., June, C.H. and Albelda, S.M., Clinical Cancer Research 17(14): 4719-30, 2011

Primary Human Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Cells Broadly Express HER2 at Immunologically-detectable Levels

Lanitis, E., Dangaj1, D., Hagemann,I.S., Song, D. Best, A., Sandaltzopoulos, R., Coukos, G. and Powell Jr., D.J., PLoS ONE 7(11): e49829, 2012

Engineered Artificial Antigen Presenting Cells Facilitate Direct and Efficient Expansion of Solid Tumor-Derived T lymphocytes

Ye, Q., Loisiou, M., Levine, B.L., Suhoski, M., Riley, J.L., June, C.H., Coukos, G. and Powell, D.J., Jr., Journal of Translational Medicine 9(131): , 2011

Optimizing Parameters for Clinical-scale Production of High IL-12 Secreting Dendritic Cells Pulsed with Oxidized Whole Tumor Cell Lysate

Chiang, C.L. Maier, D.A., Kandalaft, L.E., Brennan, A.L., Lanitis, E., Ye, Q. Levine, B.L., Czerniecki, B.J., Powell, D.J., Jr. and Coukos G., Journal of Translational Medicine 9(1): 198, 2011, PMID:22082029

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Day-4 Myeloid Dendritic Cells Pulsed With Whole Tumor Lysate Are Highly Immunogenic and Elicit Potent Anti-Tumor Responses

Chiang, C.L., Hagemann, A.R., Leskowitz, R., Mick, R., Garrabrant, T., Czerniecki, B.J., Kandalaft, L.E., Powell, D.J. Jr. and Coukos G., PloS ONE 6(12): e28732, 2011

Targeting of folate receptor-beta on acute myeloid leukemia blasts with chimeric antigen receptor expressing T-cells

Lynn RC, Poussin M, Kalota A, Feng Y, Low PS, Dimitrov DS, Powell DJ Jr., Blood 125(22): 3466-76, 2015, PMID:25887778

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A human ErbB2-specific TCR confers potent anti-tumor effector functions in genetically engineered primary cytotoxic lymphocytes

Lanitis E., Smith J.B., Dangaj D., Flingai S., Poussin M., Xu S., Czerniecki B.J., Li Y.F., Robbins P.F. and Powell D.J. Jr., Human Gene Therapy 25(8): 730-9, 2014

High affinity FRβ-specific CAR T cells eradicate AML and normal myeloid lineage without HSC toxicity

Lynn RC, Feng Y, Schutsky K, Poussin M, Kalota A, Dimitrov DS, and Powell DJ Jr, Leukemia, 2016

Rethinking Ovarian Cancer II: A Roadmap for Reducing Mortality from High-grade Serous Ovarian Cancer

David Bowtell, Steffen Böhm, Ahmed Ahmed, Paul-Joseph Aspuria, Robert C Bast, Jr, Valerie Beral, Jonathan S Berek, Mike Birrer, Sarah Blagden, Michael A Bookman, James Brenton, Katherine B Chiappinelli, Filipe Correia Martins, George Coukos, Ronny Drapkin, Richard Edmondson, Christina Fotopoulou, Hani Gabra, Jérôme Galon, Charlie Gourley, Valerie Heong, David Huntsman, Marcin Iwanicki, Beth Karlan, Allyson Kaye, Ernst Lengyel, Douglas A Levine, Karen Lu, Iain McNeish, Usha Menon, Steve Narod, Brad H Nelson, Kenneth Nephew, Paul Pharoah, Daniel Powell, Pilar Ramos, Iris Romero, Clare Scott, Anil K Sood, Euan A Stronach, Frances Balkwill, Nature Reviews Cancer 15(11): 668-79, 2015, PMID:26493647

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Mannose receptor (MR) engagement by mesothelin GPI anchor polarizes tumor-associated macrophages and is blocked by anti-MR human recombinant antibody.

Dangaj, D., Abbott, K., Mookerjee, A., Zhao, A., Kirby, P.S., Sandaltzopoulos, R., Powell, D.J. Jr, Lamazière, A., Siegel, D.L., Wolf, C. and Scholler, N., PLoS One 6(12): e28386, 2011

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