University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Blazar Laboratory

Research in immunobiology and transplantation

Current Projects

Dr. Hippen's Research

Dr. Hippen's research is focused on inhibiting Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), which is a frequent and severe complicating factor in bone marrow transplants. GVHD is a T cell mediated disease that arises in autoimmune fashion due to graft-derived immune cells recognizing recipient cells as non-self. Activation of autorective T cells (and those that induce GVHD) is normally prevented by a subset of T cells termed regulatory T cells (Treg). Transplant of donor Treg has been shown to ameliorate disease in mouse models of both GVHD and autoimmunity. Dr. Hippen's specific interest is defining the mechanisms that control human regulatory T cell proliferation and function with the goal of generating large numbers of very active cells that can be co-transferred at the time of bone marrow transplantation and reduce or completely abolish GVHD. These studies have led to 'first-in-man' studies using ex vivo expanded Treg that demonstrated these cells are safe, and can ameliorate GVHD in humans. Dr. Hippen's current projects include: defining Treg signaling pathways that enhance expansion and/or suppressive function and inducing suppressive function using in human T cells (not Treg) via TGFß, nutrient stress, or co-ligation of inhibitory molecules.