Dario Vignali, PhD

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Vignali is an eminent immunologist known for his discoveries in cytokine biology, regulatory T cell function, immunoregulation, autoimmunity and cancer immunology. He is a conceptual and technological innovator.

Dr. Vignali has done extensive research regarding the immune system, most notably on the ways in which the immune system is inhibited from detecting cancer, and the causes of various autoimmune disorders. Some of his many findings include the identification of novel regulatory T cells (Treg), their function, and how their pathways are involved in cancer and other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. He has also worked with immune inhibitory molecules, mostly LAG3 and PD1. While these and other inhibitory molecules have been studied independently, little is known about the relationship between them which is what Dr. Vignali aims to uncover.

So far, research has been promising, as in one study where, when given a dual anti-LAG3/anti-PD1 treatment, most mouse subjects were cured of their established tumors although they had previously not responded to individual anti-LAG3 or anti-PD1 treatments. Dr. Vignali is very excited at the progress of this research, noting, “We now stand at an unprecedented point in time when immunotherapy is starting to have a substantial impact on clinical care,” an exciting outlook for the future of immunotherapy treatment.

Dr. Vignali will continue his research at the University of Pittsburgh at his lab in the Department of Immunology. This research will further develop his analysis of the immune system and immune cell function in mouse model systems and disease models of cancer and autoimmune disease. His second lab, at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) will site his research on inhibitory molecules. His position will serve as an important link between the research facilities.

Dr. Vignali received his undergraduate degree from North East London Polytechnic (now East London University), before receiving his PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the University of London. He completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute for Immunology and Genetics at the German Cancer Research Center, and at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University. He is the Vice Chair and a member of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, co-leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and currently sits as Vice Chair and Professor in the Department of Immunology.

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