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MEET: Professor Rogelio Hernández-López

On June 9, 2022, I had the pleasure to meet with Stanford Bioengineering assistant professor, Rogelio Hernández-López. Via Zoom, we discussed his current research pertaining to immunology, which relates to the concept of immunosuppressants in the world of organ donation. (see previous blog post here: )

Hernández-López has always been fascinated with the world of science as a young child. He grew up in México and continued to expand his studies by participating in science competitions. "Science is a trial-and-error process; I've experienced more failures than successes in my research", said Rogelio, who talked about the processes involved in his research. He kept a optimistic attitude and never failed to challenge himself.

Now, you may ask, what exactly is his research about? That's the exciting part. Here are the notes that I took when looking deeper into his research before our meeting.



-tools/methods: mechanistic, synthetic, and systems biology

-these tools are used to find things like….

-cellular recognition

-cell communication

-cell organization

-interested in engineering biomedical relevant cellular behaviors for cancer immunotherapy


  • “We deconstruct to learn how natural biological systems work”


-engineering molecules, cells, and tissues


  • Bottom-up approach” to program new functions


-biomedical relevant behaviors for therapeutics


-integrates mechanistic cell biology to understand and engineer fundamental cellular behaviors such as recognition and communication

-In cancer immunotherapy, highly discriminatory cell recognition leads to the expansion of engineering T cells to treat solid cancers

-CAR T cells can be good in terms of killing efficiently and targeting antigens….

………however, there is a problem with them

  1. Fail to discriminate between high and low antigen-expressing cells

-IMPORTANT TERM: overexpressed antigens are a large and diverse group that includes any protein found at increased levels in tumors compared with normal healthy cells and tissues

  • Therefore, common antigens (e.g HER2, EGFR, and GD2) that are overexpressed in solid tumor cells cannot currently be used as good targets, as this has led in some cases to the lethal off-target killing of bystander tissues expressing lower levels of antigens

  • Principle(s) used: molecular recognition

    • Molecular recognition refers to the noncovalent bonding between two or more molecules such as hydrogen bonding

      • Noncovalent bonding: NO electrons are shared

  • This principle is used to understand and compare the limits among different strategies for engineering cellular discrimination


-links a low-affinity recognition event with a subsequent high-affinity activation event

The following is a chart of Rogelio's two-step circuit:


I learned many concepts during our meeting, my research, and reading more about his lab on Professor Hernández-López possesses attributes of curiosity, generosity, and an enthusiasm for educating young scientists like me. He proceeded to encourage me to continue studying and exploring by reading more Science journals like I am forever thankful for the experience that I had. He is truly an inspiration to me and other young scientists.

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