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Photo of David Beebe
January 16, 2019

Beebe partners on novel projects on immune response, personalized cancer therapy

Written By: Staff


David Beebe, the John D. MacArthur Professor and Claude Bernard Professor of biomedical engineering, is part of two projects that have received Collaborative Health Sciences Program awards from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Partnership Program.

The awards provide up to $600,000 over three years to support the work of collaborative teams to bring novel approaches to interdisciplinary research, encouraging them to explore different parts of a problem or new avenues of research as they come together to find solutions to health and healthcare issues that have not yielded to traditional approaches.

On one project, Beebe will work with Anna Huttenlocher, a professor of medical microbiology and immunology and pediatrics, and Richard Davidson, the William James and Vilas Professor of psychology and psychiatry and the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison. Together, they’ll explore the intersection of stress, inflammation and immune response, seeking to improve understanding of both the complex regulation of the human immune system and the influence of lifestyle factors such as glucose consumption and stress on this regulation.

The project will study the markers of inflammation and whether or not mindfulness-based stress reduction, including techniques that promote mind and body awareness to reduce the physiological effects of stress, pain or illness can modify or optimize the immune response. The findings have the potential to impact human health, where small changes in behavior, such as practicing mindfulness techniques, could have a large impact on public health and change clinical practice in the treatment of inflammation-driven and autoimmune diseases.

Beebe will also assist School of Medicine and Public Health professors Jacques Galipeau, Paul Sondel and Douglas McNeel in bringing the UW discovery science of B-cell therapy to first-in-human cancer clinical trials in Wisconsin.

The project aims to produce personalized cell therapies for otherwise incurable adult prostate and pediatric neuroblastoma malignancies. This is the first study using B-cells to treat cancer in humans. These discoveries may provide a new therapeutic approach to treating cancer. Such novel approaches are crucial, especially in Wisconsin where both prostate cancer and neuroblastoma have high incidence rates in adults and children. By translating these discoveries into treatments, the team hopes to improve cancer outcomes for the young and old, in Wisconsin and beyond.