Tak W. Mak is the Director of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a University Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics and Department of Immunology, University of Toronto. He was trained at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the University of Alberta, and the Ontario Cancer Institute.
His academic research interests center on recognition and regulation in the immune system as well as cell survival and cell death in normal and malignant cells. He is best known as the leading scientist of the group that first cloned the genes of the human T cell antigen receptor and elucidated the function of the first immune checkpoint regulator, CTLA-4. Both discoveries helped paved the way to today’s breakthroughs in immunotherapy. The bulk of Dr. Mak’s work has concentrated on the creation of a series of genetically altered mice that have proved critical to unraveling intracellular programs governing the development and function of the immune system. These mutants have also enabled the dissection of signal transduction cascades in various cell survival and apoptotic pathways, as well as the identification of genes involved in tumour development. Most recently, his laboratory has embarked on studies of signaling pathways that enhance immunotherapy directed against tumours that do not respond to existing immunotherapy therapies as well as pathways that sustain the cancer cell phenotype, focusing on genes involved in cancer cell metabolic adaptation and the maintenance of aneuploidy.
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