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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Why test #celltherapies one-by-one when you can use #SynBio to design, learn, and iterate on ... thousands in parallel? Our team @UCSF @MarsonLab @roybal_lab is #hiring a wetlab technician to help build the next revolution in genetically engineered medicine! DM for info & please RT!

Exceptional work Chris! Congrats my friend!

Thank you to @parkerici for the unwavering support! Our research would not be where it is today ... without PICI funding, and the access to a collaboratory network of top clinicians and researchers that help maximize the chance for impact in patients.

Recent Lab News

April 2022

The Roybal lab is looking for Postdocs and Staff Scientist to join our team!   We are starting a number of new and exciting synthetic biology and cell therapy projects that you can be a part of.  Things are moving fast, please get in touch with us by emailing your CV, including references and a brief statement of interest.



March 2021

We are excited to share our latest paper published in Cell! Congratulations to Ray Liu and Iowis Zhu for leading the development of clinically optimized and tunable nextgen synNotch receptors (dubbed SNIPRs) for cell therapies.   This was a major effort involving many members of lab including Julie, Axel, Dan P., and Josef.


February 2021

It’s always fun to see new faces in the lab and this February we added two more members to our ranks.  Panagiotis Christopoulos and Maria Jose “Majo” Duran are officially in!

January 2021

This month we welcome Max Foisey as a new rotation student.  Max’s previous work at Intellia Therapeutics focused on using CRISPR to generate immune cell therapies. During his rotation in the Roybal Lab he’ll be working with Julie Garcia, using novel receptors to augment T cell signaling in-vitro and in-vivo.