Congratulations to Alex Cuenca, MD, PhD on being awarded the 2019-2020 SUS Junior Faculty Award!
Mentor and SUS Member Sponsor: James Markmann, MD
Project: The role of adjuvant induced myeloid-derived suppressor cells in allograft tolerance.
Following graduation from New College of Florida, Dr. Cuenca completed both his medical school and general surgery residency at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He obtained a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology with a dissertation focused on the neonatal innate immunity and sepsis during his research hiatus from clinical training, as well as an NIH F32 grant to support his efforts. Following the completion of his general surgery residency, he subsequently completed a pediatric surgery fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Due to his interest in pediatric hepatobiliary disease, immunology, and transplant surgery, he ultimately decided to pursue an abdominal transplant surgery fellowship and will complete his clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in July of 2019. He will start as an assistant professor of surgery in August of 2019 at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he will continue the work that he started at MGH.
The focus of the proposal will be on the role of innate immunity in allograft tolerance. As innate immunity coordinates the adaptive immune response towards either allograft rejection or tolerance, the goal of the study will be to determine if an adjuvant can be administered to condition the transplant recipient towards a more tolerogenic state. His mentor and SUS sponsor for this project is Dr. James F Markmann, a NIH funded surgeon-scientist and expert in transplant immunology at MGH. Ultimately, Dr. Cuenca’s vision is to expand this work to examine other adjuvants that may be used to augment innate immune suppressor cell populations in order to promote transplant tolerance and decrease the overall burden of necessary but deleterious immunosuppressive medication regimens.