Esma Yolcu, PhD

Profile

Dr. Yolcu has significant interest in using hematopoietic stem cells as a powerful scheme for immunomodulation with main focus on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, and allograft rejection as well as bone marrow failure syndrome and hematological malignancies. Imperative to these efforts is a platform technology, ProtEx™, co-pioneered by Dr. Yolcu that allows for; i) the generation of novel immune ligands having robust immune-stimulatory or suppressive functions, and ii) the transient display of these ligands, individually or in combination, on biological and non-biological surfaces for localized immunomodulation. The platform technology has been patent-protected world-wide.

Dr. Yolcu has focused on the Fas death pathway as a critical regulator of immunity and generated a novel agonist, SA-FasL, with robust apoptotic function. The transient display of SA-FasL on biologic surfaces was shown to serve as an effective means of localized immunomodulation with therapeutic efficacy in preclinical models of cellular, tissue, and solid organ transplantation. In ongoing research, she and her team have demonstrated that the transient display of this molecule on bone marrow cells was effective in preventing graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) and facilitating engraftment in preclinical models. This concept is presently being pursued for testing in a large animal model of GVHD as a prelude to clinical translation for the treatment of hematological cancers. She recently ventured into transiently displaying SA-FasL on biomaterials and extracellular vesicles for immunomodulation as it applies to allogeneic islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes and GVHD. The research outcomes from the indicated studies have been published extensively in high-ranking scientific journals, such as Immunity, ACS Nano, and Nature Materials.

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Academic Information

Professor, Child Health Department

Office

1201 E Rollins St
Bond Life Sciences Center, Suite 340G
Columbia, MO 65201
United States

P. 573-882-8085

Research Interests

  • Immunomodulation
  • Bioengineering
  • Cancer Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Exosomes
  • Liposomes
  • Biomarkers
  • Autoimmune diseases

Areas of Expertise

  • Stem cells transplantation
  • Immune tolerance induction to allografts
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Cell-Based Therapies
  • Apoptosis induction
  • Tumor prevention
  • Recombinant protein production
  • Deep immune phenotyping

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

PhD, Biology & Genetics, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey
MSc, Medical Biology & Genetics, Gazi University Ankara, Turkey
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Immunomodulation, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Awards & Honors

  • 2016 Celebration of Faculty Excellence Award, University of Louisville, KY
  • 2012 Celebration of Faculty Excellence Award, University of Louisville, KY
  • 2010 Celebration of Faculty Excellence Award, University of Louisville, KY
  • 2003 Third Place: Most Promising Basic Science in the Faculty category, Research! Louisville 2003
  • 2003 First Place: Scientific Importance in the Faculty category, Research! Louisville 2003
  • 2003 Young Investigator Award-2, American Transplant Congress 2003, American Society of Transplantation and American Society of Transplant Physicians
  • 2003 Young Investigator Award-1, American Transplant Congress 2003, American Society of Transplantation and American Society of Transplant Physicians
  • 2001-2003 Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association, Ohio Affiliate
  • 2000 American Society of Transplantation "Transplant 2000 Young Investigator Award"
  • 1990 Ankara University, Faculty of Science Department of Biology "Valedictorian"

Publications

  • Lalit Batra, Pradeep Shrestha, Esma S Yolcu, Hong Zhao, William S Bowen, Kyle B Woodward, María M. Coronel, MinTan, Andrés J. García, Haval Shirwan. PD-L1-engineered pancreatic islet grafts overcome rejection in allogeneic recipients. IMMUNOLOGY 2018, May 4-8, in Austin, TX, 2018.
  • Pradeep Shrestha, William S Bowen, Lalit Batra, Min Tan, Esma S Yolcu, Haval Shirwan. Display of CD47 protein on pancreatic islet grafts improves engraftment following intraportal transplantation. IMMUNOLOGY 2018, May 4-8, Austin, TX, 2018.
  • Kyle B. Woodward, Devon M. Headen, Hong Zhao, Pradeep Shrestha, Min Tan, William S. Bowen, María M.Coronel, Michael D. Hunckler, Jessica D. Weaver, Esma Yolcu, Andrés J. García, Haval Shirwan. SA-FasL-engineered PEG microgels as a novel means of modulating immune response to allogeneic islet grafts. IMMUNOLOGY 2018, May 4-8, Austin, TX, 2018.

See a full list of publications