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Center for Cell and Gene Therapy

Houston, Texas

Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
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Cliona Rooney, Ph.D.

Cliona RooneyProfessor
Department of Pediatrics
Section of Hematology-Oncology
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology
Department of Immunology
Baylor College of Medicine

Phone: 832-824-4693


  • Ph.D., Immunology, University of Cambridge, England
  • Postdoctorate, University of Bristol, England
  • Postdoctorate, University of Birmingham, England
  • Postdoctorate, Yale University

Research Interests

Dr. Rooney's research interests are immunotherapies for virus and non-virus-associated malignancies and diseases. In protocols developed with Drs. Helen Heslop, Malcolm Brenner, Stephen Gottschalk and Catherine Bollard, about 150 patients have received EBV or antigen-specific cytotoxic T-cells. These have prevented and cured EBV-associated lymphoma in BMT recipients produced mixed tumor responses, including complete remissions in patients with relapsed EBV-positive Hodgkin's disease and nasopharyngeal carcinoma and have produced clinical remission in chronic-active EBV infections. In the research laboratory, she is developing methods for the activation and expansion of antigen-specific CTLs for the treatment of non-viral cancers, investigating ways to render CTL resistant to immune evasion strategies used by tumor cells to grow in an immunocompetent host and developing means to induce antigen-specific tolerance.

Selected Publications

  • Rossig C, Bar A, Pscherer S, Altvater B, Pule M, Rooney CM, Brenner MK, Jurgens H, Vormoor J. Target antigen expression on professional antigen-presenting cell induces superior proliferative antitumor t-cell responses via chimeric t-cell receptors. J Immunother. 2006:29(1): 21-31.
  • Straathof KC, Pulè MA, Yotnda P, Dotti G, Vanin EF, Brenner MK, Heslop HE, Spencer DM, Rooney CM. An Inducible Caspase 9 Safety Switch For T Cell Therapy. Blood. Jun 2005;105:4247-4254.
  • Dotti G, Savoldo B, Pule M, Straathof KC, Biagi E, Yvon E, Vigouroux S, Brenner MK, Rooney CM. Human cytotoxic T-lymphocytes with reduced sensitivity to Fas-induced apoptosis. Blood. Jun 2005:105:4677-4684.
  • Straathof KC, Bollard CM, Popat U, Huls MH, Lopez T, Morriss MC, Gresik MV, Gee AP, Russell HV, Brenner MK, Rooney CM, Heslop HE. Treatment of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma with Epstein-Barr Virus-specific T Lymphocytes. Blood. 2005 Mar 1;105(5):1898-904
  • Bollard CM, Aguilar L, Straathof KC, Benedikt G, Huls MH, Rousseau A, Sixbey J, Gresik MV, Carrum G, Hudson M, Dilloo D, Gee A, Brenner MK, Rooney CM, Heslop HE. Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Therapy for Epstein-Barr Virus Hodgkin’s Disease. J Exp Medicine. 2004 Dec 20; 200(12):1623-1633.
  • Leen AM, Sili U, Vanin E, Jewell AM, Xie W, Vignali D, Piedra PA, Brenner MK, Rooney CM. Conserved CTL epitopes on the adenovirus hexon protein expand immunodominant group cross-reactive and group-specific CD8+ T cells. Blood. 2004 Oct 15;104(8):2432-40.
  • Wagner H-J, Bollard CM Vigouroux S, Huls MH, Anderson R, Prentice HG,. Brenner MK, Heslop HE, Rooney CM. A strategy for the treatment of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive Hodgkin’s disease by targeting interleukin 12 to the tumor environment using tumor antigen specific T cells. Cancer Gene Therapy. 2004 Feb;11(2):81-91.
  • Savoldo B, Huls MH, Liu Z, Volk HD, Reinke P, Sabat R, Babel N, Jones JF, Webster-Cyriaque J, Gee AP, Brenner MK, Heslop HE, Rooney CM. Autologous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – Specific cytotoxic T cells for the treatment of persistent active EBV infection. Blood. 2002 . Vol 100, No.12, 4059-66.
  • Bollard CM, Rossig C, Calonge MJ, Huls MH, Wagner HJ, Massague J, Brenner MK, Heslop HE, Rooney CM. Adapting a transforming growth factor beta-related tumor protection strategy to enhance antitumor immunity. Blood. 2002 May 1; 99(9): 3179-87.
  • Heslop HE, Ng CYC, Li C, Smith, CA Loftin SK Krance RA Brenner MK and Rooney CM. Long term restoration of immunity against Epstein-Barr virus infection by adoptive transfer of gene-modified virus-specific T lymphocytes. Nature Medicine. 1996 May; 2(5):551-5.
  • Rooney CM, Smith CA, Ng CYC, Loftin SK, Li C, Krance RA, Brenner MK, Heslop HE. Use of gene-modified virus-specific T lymphocytes to control Epstein-Barr virus-related lymphoproliferation. Lancet. 1995 Jan 7;345(8941):9-13.

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