Stanford Cancer Institute

crystal mackall, md - co-leader

Crystal Mackall is the Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Stanford University. She serves as Founding Director of the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, Associate Director of Stanford Cancer Institute, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford, and Co-Executive Director of Stanford Laboratory for Cell & Gene Medicine. During a 27 year tenure culminating as Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, NCI, and now at Stanford, she has led an internationally recognized translational research program. Her work is credited with defining the major pathways of T cell homeostasis and she has conducted numerous first-in-human and first-in-child clinical trials spanning dendritic cell vaccines, cytokines, and adoptive immunotherapy using NK cells and genetically modified T cells. Her group was among the first to demonstrate impressive activity of CD19-CAR in pediatric leukemia, developed a novel CD22-CAR that demonstrates impressive activity and has identified major pathways of resistance to CAR therapies. She has published over 185 manuscripts and serves in numerous national leadership positions, including Chair of the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Trial Network, and co-Leader of the St. Baldrick’s-StandUp2Cancer Pediatric Dream Team. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Internal Medicine.

michelle monje-deisseroth, md phd - co-site lead

Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Monje is recognized as an international leader in the pathophysiology of glioma, especially diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)/H3K27M-mutated diffuse midline gliomas and a pioneer in the emerging field of Cancer Neuroscience. Her clinical focus is on childhood glial malignancies and cognitive impairment after childhood cancer therapy. Her laboratory studies neuron-glial interactions in health and disease, with a particular focus on mechanisms and consequences of neuron-glial interactions in health, glial dysfunction in cancer therapy-related cognitive impairment and neuron-glial interactions in malignant glioma. Together with these basic studies, her research program has advanced preclinical studies of novel therapeutics for pediatric high-grade gliomas and cancer therapy-related cognitive impairment in order to translate new therapies to the clinic. She has led several of her discoveries from basic molecular work to clinical trials for children and young adults with brain tumors, including most recently GD2 CAR T-cell therapy for DIPG and spinal cord DMG.

Jennifer cochran, phd - investigator


rebecca richards, md phd - investigator


elena sotillo-pineiro, phd - investigator

johanna theruvath, md - investigator


sabine heitzender, phd - young investigator

amaury leruste, md - young investigator


robbie majzner, md - young investigator

Robbie Majzner is an Instructor in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. After graduating with a BA in computer science from Columbia University, Dr. Majzner attended Harvard Medical School where he developed an interest in pediatric oncology. He completed his residency training in pediatrics at New York Presbyterian-Columbia and fellowship training in pediatric hematology-oncology at Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute. During his fellowship, he began working in the laboratory of Crystal Mackall with the goal of translating the success seen with CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to pediatric solid tumors.

Dr. Majzner has generated novel CAR T cells against anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), B7-H3 (CD276), and GD2. His work on the ALK CAR demonstrated that unlike native T cell receptors, synthetic CARs require high antigen density for in vivo efficacy. He has also generated and validated a novel CAR against B7-H3, a pan-cancer antigen broadly expressed on pediatric tumors, which demonstrates exciting preclinical activity in pediatric sarcomas and brain tumors. Through his research, he aims to bring advances in cell therapy to children with incurable cancers.

sneha ramakrishna, md - young investigator

Sneha Ramakrishna, M.D., is an Instructor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Stanford University. Dr. Ramakrishna obtained her B. A. from the University of Chicago and her M.D. from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) at Case Western Reserve University. During her medical training, she was awarded the Howard Hughes Research Scholar Award, and worked with Dr. Crystal Mackall at the National Institute of Health in the preclinical development of a novel cancer therapy, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which teaches the immune system to target tumor cells more effectively. During her medical training, she developed a method of targeting specific solid tumors through a GD2-targeting CAR T cell. She then completed her residency training in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. During her residency, she worked with Drs. Stephan Grupp and Shannon Maude to care for some of the first patients treated with CD19 CAR therapy. She then proceeded to a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Johns Hopkins/National Cancer Institute combined program, where she expanded her understanding of CAR therapy through both caring for patients treated with a CD22-directed CAR T cell clinical trial and evaluating mechanisms of cancer-escape from this therapy. During her fellowship, in Dr. Terry Fry’s laboratory, she evaluated relapse following CD22 CAR therapy and worked to identify potential mechanisms to optimize therapeutic approaches to provide durable responses in patients. Following her fellowship, she joined the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University. Dr. Ramakrishna’s research focuses on identifying mechanisms of resistance to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies and optimizing both CAR design and tumor sensitivity to improve long-term success of CAR T cell therapies.