John E Connolly

Professor Dr John Connolly, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Tessa Therapeutics Pte Ltd

Title:  Virus Specific T cells as platform for Solid Tumor Immunotherapy



Professor Connolly is the CSO of Tessa Therapeutics, a Senior Principal Investigator and Director for Translational Immunology at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB).  As a human immunologist, his research interests focus on target discovery for immune modulation.  An Adjunct Associate Professor of Immunology at Baylor University, he served on the Board of Governors for the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

Professor Connolly received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Dartmouth Medical School and studied human dendritic cell biology under Dr. Michael Fanger.  During this time, he was involved in the development of immunotherapeutic preclinical models and clinical trials for Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).  He moved to the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, a fully translational research institute dedicated to rationally designed vaccines against cancer and infectious disease.  Professor Connolly served as the Director of Research Initiatives for the Baylor Research Institute, leading a large integrated translational research resource and multi-institutional programs.  During his tenure at Baylor, Professor Connolly was a central core facility director of the NIAID Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense, an NIH funded consortium of basic, translational research and clinical trials focused on vaccine design.  Professor Connolly is the past President of the Board of Directors of The American Cancer Society in N. Texas


Title: Virus Specific T cells as platform for Solid Tumor Immunotherapy


The ability to simultaneously monitor changes in multiple immune parameters holds great discriminatory and instructive power for the purpose of biomarker validation and mechanistic target discovery. In the case of Virus Specific T cell therapy for solid tumors, an examination of the systemic, cellular and local immune environment during the course of treatment has yielded a series of predictive biomarkers correlating with immunogenicity, response to therapy and overall survival on trial.  An analysis of antigen specific T-cells have identified anti-viral responses with positive prognostic value. Differences in the immunosuppressive state of the patient’s activated regulatory T-cells (Tregs) and the expansion or contraction of the myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) compartment, point to a mechanism of action for the therapy.

Publications of direct relevance to the study

Qamra A, Xing M, Padmanabahn N, Kwok JJ, Zhang S, Chang X, Leong YS, Lee Lim AP, Tang Q, Ooi W, Suling Lin J, Nandi T, Yao X, Ong X, Lee M, Tay ST, Keng AT, Gondo Santoso E, Ng CC, Ng A, Jusakul A, Smoot D, Ashktorab H, Rha SY, Yeoh KG, Peng Yong W, Chow PK, Chan WH, Ong HS, Soo KS, Kim KM, Wong WK, Rozen SG, Teh BT, Kappei D, Lee J, Connolly J, Tan P. Epigenomic promoter alterations amplify gene isoform and immunogenic diversity in gastric adenocarcinoma. Cancer Discovery, Mar 2017: Epub ahead of print [PMID: 28320776]

Ang WX, Li Z, Chi Z, Du SH, Chen C, Tay JC, Toh HC, Connolly JE, Xu XH, Wang S. Intraperitoneal immunotherapy with T cells stably and transiently expressing anti-EpCAM CAR in xenograft models of peritoneal carcinomatosis, Ocnotarget, Feb  2017; 8(8): 13545-13559 [PMID: 28088790]

Thornhill SI, Mak A, Lee B, Lee HY, Poidinger M, Connolly JE, Fairhurst AM. Monocyte Siglec-14 expression is upregulated in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and correlates with lupus disease activity, Rheumatology, Jan 2017: Epub ahead of print [PMID: 28137763]

Zhong FL, Mamai O, Sborgi L, Boussofara L, Hopkins R, Robinson K, Szeverenyi I, Takeichi T, Balaji R, Lau A. Tye H, Roy K, Bonnard C, Ahl PJ, Jones LA, Baker P, Lacina L, Otsuka A, Fournie PR, Malecaze F, Lane EB, Akiyama M, Kabashima K, Connolly JE, Masters SL, Soler VJ, Omar SS, McGrath JA, Nedelcu R, Gribaa M, Denguezli M, Saad A, Hiller S, Reversade B. Germline NLRP1 Mutations cause skin inflammatory and cancer susceptibility syndromes via inflammasome activation, Cell, Sept 2016: Vol 167 (1), Pg 187-202  [PMID: 27662089]

Sung C, Wei Y, Watanabe S, Lee HS, Khoo YM, Fan L, Rathore AP, Chan KW, Choy MM, Kamaraj US, Sessions OM, Aw  P, de Sessions PF, Lee B, Connolly JE, Hibberd ML, Vijaykrishna D, Wijaya L, Ooi EE, Low JG, Vasudevan SG. Extended evaluation of virological, immunological and pharmacokinetic endpoints of CELADEN: A randomized, Placebo-controlled trial of Celgosivir in dengue fever patients, PLoS Negl Trop Dis, Aug 2016 10(8) [PMID:27509020]