Associate Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Allen Distinguished Investigator, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group
Scientific Founder, Tidal Therapeutics
Dr. Stephan takes a materials science–centric engineering approach to create new therapies based in the controlled modulation of the immune system. Dr. Stephan began specializing in this area during his postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he developed a nanoparticle-based strategy to provide autocrine sources of adjuvant growth factor that support adoptively transferred, tumor antigen-specific T lymphocytes. Much of this work became the intellectual and technical foundation for a clinical-stage immune-oncology company (Torque Therapeutics, Inc.). In 2015, his research group at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center developed an innovation that allows cancer-fighting immune cells to be contained in a biopolymer and surgically implanted at tumor excision sites. This technology was recently licensed by MonarchBio for further development with the goal to maximize the success of tumor surgery, and to spare patients from repetitive operations, extended hospital stays, and rounds of radiation or chemotherapy. In 2017, the Stephan lab pioneered a method to program antigen-recognizing capabilities into lymphocytes circulating vivo, without having to isolate lymphocytes from the patient and perform the elaborate ex vivo procedures that are used today. Based on this research, Fred Hutch spun out Tidal Therapeutics in 2019 to generate a repertoire of gene modification systems that can rapidly induce selective immunity against clinically relevant targetable antigens.