Craig A. Byersdorfer, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Assistant Professor of Immunology

Administrative Assistant: Amanda Greygor

Craig A. Byersdorfer, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Immunology. 

Byersdorfer is a board-certified Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist with interests in blood and marrow transplantation and cellular therapies for the treatment of cancer. His research has focused predominantly on graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a devastating complication following allogeneic blood and marrow transplantation, and more recently on ways to improve the persistence of leukemia-targeting cellular therapies.

Byersdorfer has used his formal training in Immunology to define and understand GVHD and stem cell transplantation on a cellular level.  Over the last five years, his lab has married this immunological understanding with techniques and insights from the field of cellular metabolism.  This combination provides a novel and innovative way to investigate the cells responsible for post-transplant immune reconstitution and disease pathogenesis, helping to identify several key metabolic proteins that could serve as potential therapeutic targets. More recently, his lab has used similar methods to improve the in vivo fitness of cancer-targeting T cells.

Byersdorfer obtained his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University in St. Louis before completing his Pediatric Residency and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Byersdorfer then joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 2014. He has authored multiple articles, reviews, and book chapters about his research, which is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and several foundations. He has been recognized for his research accomplishments and his mentoring with an Amy Strelzer-Manasevit Award from the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Junior Scholar Award in Basic Science, an Allen Humphrey Excellence in Mentoring Award, and a Medical Student Research Mentoring Merit award from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently the Assistant Medical Director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a member of the American Society of Hematology Scientific Committee on Transplantation Biology and Cellular Therapies.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 2009-Present
  • American Society of Hematology, 2012-Present
  • American Association of Immunologists, 2014-Present
  • Society for Pediatric Research, 2018-Present
  • Federation of Clinical Immunological Societies, 2018-Present

Education & Training

  • BA, Chemistry and German, University of Minnesota, 1995
  • BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota, 1995
  • Predoctoral Training and Research, University of Minnesota, 1995-1997
  • MD/PhD, Washington University in St. Louis, 2006
  • Internship in Pediatrics, CS Mott Children's Hospital, 2006-2007
  • Residency in Pediatrics, CS Mott Children's Hospital, 2007-2008
  • Clinical Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, CS Mott Children's Hospital, 2008-2011
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan School of Medicine, 2009-2014

Selected Publications

Akbulut S, Byersdorfer CA, Larsen CP, Zimmer SL, Humphreys TD, Clarke BL. Expression of the melanocortin 5 receptor on rat lymphocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 281(5):1086-92. PMID: 11243846

Byersdorfer CA, Chaplin DD. Visualization of early APC/T cell interactions in the mouse lung following intranasal challenge. J Immunol. 2001 167(12):6756-64. PMID: 11739490

Byersdorfer CA, DiPaolo RJ, Petzold SJ, Unanue ER. Following immunization antigen becomes concentrated in a limited number of antigen-presenting cells including B cells.  J Immunol. 2004 173(11):6627-34. PMID: 15557153

Byersdorfer CA, Schweitzer GG, Unanue ER. Diabetes is predicted by the Beta cell level of autoantigen.  J Immunol. 2005 175(7):4347-54. PMID: 16177075

Atibalentja D, Byersdorfer CA, Unanue ER. Thymus–blood protein interactions are highly effective in negative selection and regulatory T cell induction.  J Immunol. 2009 183(12):7909-7918. PMID: 19933868

Hassan F, Byersdorfer CA, Nasr S.  Severe Schwachman-Diamond syndrome and associated CF carrier mutations. Resp Med CME. 2010 3(1):18-19.

Byersdorfer CA, Tkachev V, Opipari AW, Goodell S, Swanson J, Sandquist S, Glick GD, Ferrara JLM. Effector T cells require fatty acid metabolism during murine graft-versus-host disease. Blood. 2013 122(18):3230-3237.PMID: 24046012

Glick GD, Rossignol R, Lyssiotis CA, Wahl D, Lesch C, Sanchez B, Liu X, Hao LY, Taylor C, Hurd A, Ferrara JLM, Tkachev V, Byersdorfer CA, Boros L, Opipari AW.  Anaplerotic metabolism of alloreactive T cells provides a metabolic approach to treat graft-versus-host disease. J Pharm Exp Ther. 2014 351(2):298-307. PMID: 25125579

Gleimer M., Li Y, Chang L, Paczesny S, Hanauer DA, Frame DG, Byersdorfer CA, Reddy PR, Braun TM, Choi SW.  Baseline body mass index among children and adults undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation: clinical characteristics and outcomes. BMT. 2015 50(3):402-10. PMID: 25531283

Tkachev V, Goodell S, Opipari AW, Franchi L, Hao LY, Glick GD, Ferrara JLM, Byersdorfer CA. Programmed death-1 controls T cell survival by regulating oxidative metabolism. J Immunol. 2015 194(12):5789-800. PMID: 25972478

Dolezal JM, Wang H, Kulkarni S, Jackson L, Lu J, Ranganathan S, Goetzman ES, Bharathi S, Beezhold K, Byersdorfer CA, Prochownik EV. Sequential Adaptive Changes in a c-Myc-Driven Model of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. J Biol Chem. 2017 292(24):10068-10086. PMID: 28432125

Full Publication List via NIH PubMed »

Academic and Research Interests

  • T cell metabolism
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • T cell mediated anti-leukemia responses
  • Immunodeficiencies

Research Grants

NIH K08HL123621, Changes in T cell metabolism during graft-versus-host disease (PI, 50% effort), 2016-2020, $582,147.

American Society of Hematology Scholar Award, Using metabolic inhibition to treat and prevent graft-versus-host disease (PI, 3% effort), 2017-2020.

Amy Strelzer-Manasevit Research Foundation, Manipulating T Cell Metabolism to Treat and Prevent Acute Graft-versus-host Disease (PI, 5% effort), 2018-2021.

United States Department of Defense, CA180681, Leveraging T-Cell Metabolism to Improve Anti-cancer Immunotherapies (PI, 5% effort)

NIH R01HL144556, The Role of AMP-activated Protein Kinase in GVHD-causing T Cells (PI, 30% effort), 2019-2024, $1,606,770.

Hyundai Motor Company Hope on Wheels Scholar Grant, Minimizing Cell Therapy-associated Cytokine Release Syndrome (PI, 10% effort), 2020-2021.