PHILADELPHIA — (March, 27, 2017) — The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, announces the appointment of Farokh Dotiwala, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., as assistant professor in the Vaccine Center.

Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Staphylococcus and pathogens like malaria are emerging throughout the world. Dotiwala’s research centers on the mechanisms of killer immune cells—such as natural killer and CD8 T cells—and how they target and destroy pathogens in host cells. This research could result in promising therapeutic strategies against infections that were once thought to be drug-resistant. Dotiwala’s research on immune proteases (enzymes that digest and break down proteins) could also provide new therapies for drug-resistant cancers by re-directing proteins produced in the human body to destroy these cancer cells by restricting their ability to resist against therapy.

“I find Wistar’s collaborative atmosphere and the genuine interest of senior faculty to mentor junior faculty very appealing,” said Dotiwala. “As my research evolves, I look forward to starting a new drug resistance research program with a focus on the killing mechanism of immune cells and the proteins they use to disable or kill pathogens. These studies would also contribute to the ongoing work of Wistar’s Vaccine Center scientists. I’m also interested in collaborating with Cancer Center scientists to find and test certain anti-mitochondrial therapies against cancers like pancreatic and triple negative breast cancers, which are resistant to all conventional anti-cancer therapies.”

Dotiwala focuses on how granzymes—the weapons of immune killer cells—attack and disable the infective pathogen and not the host cell. Dotiwala’s research could identify the next generation of anti-cancer and antibacterial therapies.

“Across the globe, there is an urgent need for new antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and Farokh is perfectly positioned to contribute innovative research approaches in this important topic of investigation,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar president and CEO, director of the Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor. “His research is a perfect fit to Wistar’s premiere immunology program and will open up new avenues to explore how immune cells reprogram proteins produced by the human body to target cancers and pathogens. This will ultimately lead to highly-specific antimicrobial strategies against antibiotic-resistant strains as well as promising anti-cancer immunotherapies.”

Dotiwala joins Wistar from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he was an Instructor in Pediatrics. Dotiwala received an M.B.B.S. in Medicine from Grant Medical College, Mumbai, India, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from Brandeis University. His Ph.D. research studied different factors in DNA damage and activation of cell cycle checkpoints which prevent cancer by halting cell division in DNA-damaged cells. Next, Dotiwala was appointed a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University in the lab of Judy Lieberman, M.D., Ph.D., and completed training in immunology and cancer research. His research focused on the mechanisms killer immune cells use to destroy bacteria and protozoan pathogens.

# # #The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.