Hacking Immune Cells To Expand Their Therapeutic Potential

Our Research

In the Roybal Lab, we harness the tools of synthetic and chemical biology to enhance the therapeutic potential of engineered immune cells. We take a comprehensive approach to cellular engineering by developing new synthetic receptors, signal transduction cascades, and cellular response programs to enhance the safety and effectiveness of adoptive cell therapies. We also study the logic of natural cellular signaling systems, and the underlying principles of cellular communication and collective cell behavior during an immune response. These interests are complementary as cell engineering is often informed by knowledge obtained from studying natural mechanisms of cell regulation refined by evolution.

Our Partners

Our People

The Roybal Lab is a dedicated group of students, post-docs, physicians, and staff scientists with diverse backgrounds ranging from basic science to cellular engineering and synthetic immunology. Each member brings expertise in their field to our unique and highly collaborative research environment.


Media highlights of Roybal Lab's research.
'Smart' immune cells kill tumours and stop them regrowing in mice
Attacking glioblastoma and other solid tumors with CAR-Ts that target multiple antigens
Tweaking Mother Nature, biologists aim for better cancer-fighting cells
'Cell Bots' Chase Down Cancer, Deliver Drugs Directly to Tumors
Synthetic Notch receptors were featured in Notable Advances 2016
Kole Roybal receives the inaugural Sartorius & Science Magazine Prize in Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy 2018
Boosting the immune system to fight cancer
Cell Design Labs, Little Partner Of Kite Pharma, Pushes T-Cell Engineering Frontier

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Exciting new study out now in @CellCellPress from @SpitzerLab @GladstoneInst @UCSF Genomic ...Immunology - Can Lymph Nodes Boost the Success of Cancer Immunotherapy? https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/03/424996/lymph-nodes-intact-cancer-immunotherapy

This is why @DevotedHealth is doing so well…


This lab makes days and nights of work so easy and fun. The motivation, energy, empathy, and, of ...course, mentorship from @KoleRoybal, has been everything for me. Thanks and 🥂 for the year to come.

Recent Lab News

January 2023

This month we welcome our new rotation student Isaac Orr.  Isaac is a first year in the Biophysics program, and is interested in immunotherapy, bioengineering, and protein engineering.  He’s working closely with Jay Daniels to improve signaling capacities of CAR T cells.

December 2022

December was big month for our CAR signaling domain research group.  While many members of the Roybal Lab made a contribution, this project was primarily driven by Dan Goodman, Camillia Azimi, and Kendall Kearns.  Together they designed a multiplexed approach to rapidly identify CAR designs with clinical potential, dubbed “CAR-Pooling”.  This was a truly challenging effort with impressive results, recently published in Science Translational Medicine.


November 2022

It’s the time of the year when we celebrate the joyous occasion that is Labsgiving!  Thank you to Dan Goodman for going all out as host again this year.  The new addition of a whisky tasting is a nice twist.  We love it when you don’t hold back!

October 2022

October was a big month for CCSF student and Roybal lab summer intern Maria Chirinos.  Maria will be traveling overseas to present her work on shRNA mediated T cell activation at the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM conference in San Juan Puerto Rico.  This is the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country, and we are so proud to have here representing the Roybal Lab!  But, there’s more…she will also present at ABRCMS in Long Beach this November. Go Maria!