Rimas Orentas, Staff Scientist
Dr. Orentas received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1991 he received his Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and also carried out post-doctoral Studies at the Hopkins Oncology Center, where he was promoted to a Research Associate. In 1996 he was recruited to the Medical College of Wisconsin in to the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology. At the Medical College of Wisconsin he rose to the rank of Associate Professor and was also appointed to the Department of Medicine and to the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics where he participated in the graduate school training program. In 2008 Dr. Orentas was recruited to lead the Oncology program at Lentigen, Corp. in Gaithersburg, MD, where he was responsible for the scientific and clinical development of lentiviral gene vectors for both cancer and inherited disorders, focusing on T cell therapy, the engineering of marrow-derived stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells. From there he joined the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the NCI as a Staff Scientist in Dr. Crystal Mackall’s laboratory in 2009 and was promoted to a National Cancer Institute Associate Scientist in 2012.
Dr. Orentas’ current research centers on the engineering of T lymphocytes for the immunotherapy of cancer in both mouse and human systems. He has led preclinical development of a new chimeric antigen receptor targeting CD22 on acute lymphoblastic leukemia and has also created several other original chimeric receptors targeting solid tumor associated antigens. Dr. Orentas’ has interests in the study of the T cell response to transplantation associated viral pathogens such as BKV and EBV, in using cell-based vaccines as a model for treating pediatric malignancies, and in pioneering new ways to engineer anti-tumor T cells.