Haval Shirwan, PhD


The primary focus of Dr. Shirwan's translational research program is to develop safe and practical immunomodulatory approaches with applications to transplantation, autoimmunity, cancer, and infections. To achieve this goal, Dr. Shirwan co-pioneered with Dr. Esma S. Yolcua a proprietary platform technology, ProtEx™, that allows for the generation of novel recombinant immune ligands and their positional display as single agents or in combination on biological surfaces as a practical and safe alternative to gene therapy for localized immunomodulation.

Dr. Shirwan is also assessing various vehicles, including live bacterial vectors and nanoparticles, for targeted delivery of these biologics in vivo to modulate immune effector and regulatory cells for therapeutic outcomes. Ongoing studies demonstrated the efficacy of two lead therapeutic candidates in preventing and treating type 1 diabetes in rodents and are presently being assessed for tolerogenic efficacy in humanized mouse and nonhuman primate models as a prelude to clinical translation. In parallel, candidate immunostimulatory molecules are also being developed for cancer immunoprevention and immunotherapy using rodent and humanized mouse models. A lead candidate in this category was recently shown to train the immune system for long-term protection against various cancer types, the first report of an unusual finding with significant translational potential for cancer as well as infectious diseases.

Academic Information



1201 E Rollins St
Columbia, MO 65201
United States

Research Interests

  • Autoimmunity
  • Cancer Immunoprevention
  • Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Transplantation
  • Vaccinology

Areas of Expertise

  • Alloimmunity
  • Apoptosis
  • Development of novel biologics
  • Immune adjuvants
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immune checkpoints
  • Targeted delivery of biologics
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Xenoimmunity

Education & Training

MS, Molecular Biology/Biochemistry

University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

PhD, Molecular Biology/Biochemistry

University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

Awards & Honors

Issued Patents

  • Shirwan, H., Alteration of cell membrane for new functions. US patent US patent 8,728,747, 05/20/2014
  • Shirwan, H., Methods of immune modulation with death receptor-induced apoptosis. US patent 8,551,494, 10/08/2013
  • Shirwan, H., Alteration of cell membrane for new functions. CA patent 2413237. 09/10/2013
  • Shirwan, H., Immune modulation with death-receptor-induced apoptosis. Japanese patent JP 4898049. 01/06/2012
  • Shirwan, H., Alteration of cell membrane with FasL. US patent 8,076,096, 12/13/2011
  • Shirwan, H., Alteration of cell membrane for new functions. EU patent 1299522. 11/02/2011
  • Shirwan, H., K.G. Elpek, and E.S. Yolcu., Immunostimulatory compositions and methods. US patent 8,017,582. 09/13/2011
  • Shirwan, H., Fas ligand-avidin/streptavidin fusion proteins US Patent 7,927,602. 08/19/2011
  • Shirwan, H., Immune modulation with death-receptor-induced apoptosis. EU Patent 1250055. 09/15/2010
  • Shirwan, H., Methods and Compositions for Expanding T Regulatory Cells. US Patent 7,745,215. 06/29/2010
  • Shirwan, H., K.G. Elpek, and E.S. Yolcu., Immunostimulatory compositions and methods. US Patent 7,598,345. 10/06/2009
  • Shirwan, H., Alteration of Cell Membrane with B7. US Patent 7,238,360. 06/03/2


  • Batra L, Shrestha P, Zhao H, Woodward KB, Togay A, Tan M, Grimany-Nuno O, Malik MT, Coronel MM. Garcia AJ, Shirwan H*, Yolcu ES*. Localized immunomodulation with PD-L1 results in sustained survival and function of allogeneic islets without chronic immunosuppression. J Immunol, in press. *Equal contribution.
  • Woodward KB, Zhao H, Shrestha P, Batra L, Tan M, Grimany-Nuno O, Bandura-Morgan L, Askenasy N, Shirwan H*, Yolcu ES*. Pancreatic islets engineered with a FasL protein induce systemic tolerance at the induction phase that evolves into long-term graft-localized immune privilege. Am J Transplant. 2019 Dec 18. doi: 10.1111/ajt.15747. [Epub ahead of print. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31850658 *Equal contribution.
  • Barsoumian HB, Batra L, Shrestha P, Bowen WS, Zhao H, Egilmez NK, Gomez-Gutierrez JG, Yolcu ES, Shirwan H. A novel form of 4-1BBL prevents cancer development via nonspecific activation of CD4+ T and Natural Killer cells. Cancer Res. 2019 Feb 15;79(4):783-794. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30770367 Media coverage: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/uol-ism021219.php.
  • Skoumal M, Woodward KB, Zhao H, Wang F, Yolcu ES, Pearson RM, Hughes KR, García AJ, Shea LD, Shirwan H. Localized immune tolerance from FasL-functionalized PLG scaffolds. Biomaterials. 2019 Feb;192:271-281. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30458362
  • Headen DM, Woodward KB, Coronel1 MM, Shrestha P, Weaver JD, Zhao H, Tan M, Hunckler MD, Bowen WS, Johnson CT, Shea L, Yolcu E, García AJ, and Shirwan H. Local immunomodulation with Fas ligand-engineered biomaterials achieves allogeneic islet graft acceptance. Nature Materials, 2018 Aug;17(8):732-739. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29867165 Media coverage: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180605103500.htm
  • Bowen WS, Svrivastava AK, Batra L, Barsoumian H, Shirwan H. Current challenges for cancer vaccine adjuvant development. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2018 Mar;17(3):207-215. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29372660

Complete list of publications