Dr. Polonsky earned her PhD in Immunology at the Weizmann Institute. Her work is part of the emerging field of immunotherapy, or re-stimulating a patient’s immune system to attack cancerous cells. She investigated murine T cell differentiation at the single cell level, using a device she developed, that enables live cell imaging of primary T cells through arrays of thousands of microwells in which cells are trapped and can be monitored over time. Using her devices she revealed that T memory formation is influenced by local interactions between the activated cells. This information could lead to improved design of ex-vivo T cell cultures for adoptive immunotherapies.
For her postdoc at the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech, she will broaden her approach, studying complex cellular processes within the context of the tissue in which they occur. Transitioning to working on human tissue samples, she will try to discover cellular interactions and signaling pathways to elucidate how the immune system interacts with tumor cells. This holds the potential to aid in the design of improved cancer therapy protocols and more accurate diagnoses.