Paul Szabolcs is an NIH-funded physician-scientist with a long-standing interest to understand the development of T cell immune competence in recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). He joined Pitt from Duke University in 2011 with the mandate to establish and build the Division of BMT-CT at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Novel prospective reduced intensity trials for a broad range of non-malignant diseases (inborn errors of immunity, metabolism and hamtopoiesis) have been successfully launched and enrolled subjects undergo detailed mechanistic laboratory studies in parallel in the Szabolcs Lab. For many years, the lab has focused on unrelated cord blood transplantation (UCBT) as the dominant clinical scenario and laboratory model.
Remarkably, despite the HLA-mismatched setting, naïve T cells removed from the immunologically biased fetal-maternal interface will eventually offer protective immunity from viral and opportunistic infections despite ongoing immunosuppression for months after transplant. His lab was the first to demonstrate the feasibility to in vitro prime cord blood T lymphocytes against cytomegalovirus, a significant pathogen. His lab also identified the biological requirements to expand cord blood T lymphocytes ex vivo while guiding their maturation to reach a critical stage in Th1/Tc1 development rendering them receptive to further in vitro priming strategies to generate cytotoxic T lymphocytes against human leukemia. His lab to bedside research programs have received support from NIAID, NCI, and NHLBI and he holds multiple investigator initiated INDs and patent applications.