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Leonardo M.R. Ferreira, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar
Molecular Immunologist and Human Genome Engineer
Tang and Bluestone Labs

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  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ph.D., Biochemistry, 2016
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.M., Biology, 2013
  • University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal, B.Sc., Biochemistry, 2011
  • Tang Lab, Department of Surgery. 2016 -
  • Bluestone Lab, UCSF Diabetes Center, 2016 -
  • Immune tolerance

Leonardo M.R. Ferreira, Ph.D. is a molecular immunologist and human genome engineer in the laboratories of Dr. Qizhi Tang (Department of Surgery) and Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone (Diabetes Center) at UCSF.  

Dr. Ferreira has a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 2016. During his doctoral studies, under the supervision of Dr. Jack Strominger and Dr. Chad Cowan at Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, he focused on studying immune tolerance using pregnancy as a model, as well as on developing new tools to edit the genome of primary human T cells.

Currently, Dr. Ferreira is working to develop the next generation of chimeric antigen receptors for regulatory T cell therapy, aiming to establish tolerance in the contexts of autoimmune disease and transplant rejection.

  • AAI Trainee Poster Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI), 2018
  • Future of Science Fund Scholarship, Keystone Symposia, 2018
  • Best Poster Award, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Center of Excellence, 2017
  • Travel Award, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Center of Excellence, 2017
  • Finalist, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Postdoc Slam 2017, 2017
  • Travel Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI), 2015

The adaptive immune system has evolved to specifically recognize and destroy a virtually infinite variety of pathogens, while remaining unresponsive towards self-tissues, a state known as immune tolerance. T cell-based antigen-specific immune tolerance was first postulated in 1970. Yet, it was not until the 1990s that the identity of the cell type responsible for this phenomenon was firmly established: regulatory T cells (Tregs).

Manipulating human Tregs offers the unprecedented opportunity to induce tolerance in a clinical setting, potentially providing cures for autoimmune disease and transplant rejection. However, vanishingly low numbers of antigen-specific Tregs and Treg instability upon prolonged expansion have hampered the implementation of Treg-based therapies.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology has greatly expedited the generation of tumor antigen-specific effector T (Teff) cells. CARs are synthetic receptors comprising an extracellular antigen-binding domain and an intracellular signaling domain that allow for potent T cell activation directly downstream of antigen recognition.

Adoption of the CAR platform for Treg engineering represents a promising strategy to generate custom-made antigen-specific Tregs for therapy. Yet, there are marked differences in signaling and function between Tregs and Teff cells. My goal is to design the next generation of CARs for Treg therapy, aiming to establish tolerance in the contexts of autoimmune disease and transplant rejection.

Most recent publications from a total of 26
  1. Yu H, Rimbert A, Palmer AE, Toyohara T, Xia Y, Xia F, Ferreira LMR, Chen Z, Chen T, Loaiza N, Horwitz NB, Kacergis MC, Zhao L, Soukas AA, Kuivenhoven JA, Kathiresan S, Cowan CA. GPR146 Deficiency Protects against Hypercholesterolemia and Atherosclerosis. Cell. 2019 Nov 27; 179(6):1276-1288.e14. View in PubMed
  2. Abreu, P.L.; Ferreira, L.M.R.; Cunha-Oliveira, T.; Alpoim M.C. A. M. Urbano. Heat Shock Protein 90 in Human Diseases and Disorders. HSP90: A Key Player in Metal-Induced Carcinogenesis?. 2019; 217-247. View in PubMed
  3. Ferreira LMR, Cunha-Oliveira T, Sobral MC, Abreu PL, Alpoim MC, Urbano AM. Impact of Carcinogenic Chromium on the Cellular Response to Proteotoxic Stress. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 03; 20(19). View in PubMed
  4. Ferreira LMR, Muller YD, Bluestone JA, Tang Q. Next-generation regulatory T cell therapy. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2019 Oct; 18(10):749-769. View in PubMed
  5. Carosso G.A., Ferreira L.M.R., Mostajo-Radji M.A.. Developing brains, developing nations: Can scientists be effective non-state diplomats?. Frontiers in Education. 2019; 4:95. View in PubMed
  6. Carosso, G.A., Ferreira, L.M.R., Mostajo-Radji, M.A.. Scientists as non-state actors of public diplomacy. Nature Human Behaviour. 2019. View in PubMed
  7. Carosso GA, Ferreira LMR, Mostajo-Radji MA. Scientists as non-state actors of public diplomacy. Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Nov; 3(11):1129-1130. View in PubMed
  8. Ferreira, L.M.R., Carosso, G.A., Duran, N.M., Bohorquez-Massud, S.V., Vaca-Diez, G., Rivera-Betancourt, L.I., Rodriguez, Y., Ordonez, D.G., Alatriste-Gonzalez, D.K., Vacaflores, A., Auza, L.G., Schuetz, C., Alvarado-Arnez, L.E., Alexander-Savino, C.V., Gandarilla, O., Mostajo-Radji, M.A.. Effective participatory science education in a diverse Latin American population. Palgrave Communications. 2019; 5:63. View in PubMed
  9. Gershteyn, I.M., Ferreira, L.M.R.. Immunodietica: A data-driven approach to investigate interactions between diet and autoimmune disorders. Journal of Translational Autoimmunity. 2019; 1:100003. View in PubMed
  10. Han X, Wang M, Duan S, Franco PJ, Kenty JH, Hedrick P, Xia Y, Allen A, Ferreira LMR, Strominger JL, Melton DA, Meissner TB, Cowan CA. Generation of hypoimmunogenic human pluripotent stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 May 21; 116(21):10441-10446. View in PubMed
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Please note: UCSF Profiles publications are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact CTSI for help.
  1. Ferreira LMR, Bluestone JA, Tang Q. Designing the next generation of chimeric antigen receptors for regulatory T cell therapy. Oral presentation, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS), Chicago, Illinois, 2017, (Best Poster Award; FOCIS Travel Award)
  2. Ferreira LMR, Meissner TB, Mikkelsen T, O'Donnell C, Sherwood R, Mallard W, Rinn J, Cowan, CA, Strominger JL. Long-range chromatin interactions control trophoblast-restricted HLA-G expression during pregnancy. Oral presentation, American Association of Immunologists (AAI), New Orleans, Louisiana, 2015 (AAI Travel Award)


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