Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Aaron Foster, Ph.D.

Aaron E. Foster, Ph.D.


Aaron E. Foster, Ph.D.

Aaron E. Foster, Ph.D.

Assistant Affiliate Member
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
Baylor College of Medicine and
Texas Children's Cancer Center

E-mail: aefoster@txccc.org
Phone: 832-824-4734
Fax: 832-825-4732


B.S.   University of Puget Sound (Biology)
Ph.D.   University Sydney (Chemical Engineering)

Postdoctoral Training

University of Sydney, Haematology/Oncology, Sydney, Australia
Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics (Hem/Onc), Houston, TX



Dr. Foster earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney in 2003. After a short postdoc in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy supported by Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, and The Methodist Hospital, Dr. Foster was appointed to a faculty position. In 2009, he joined THMRI as an Assistant Affiliate Member where he conducts research focusing on immunotherapeutic targeting of cancer and cancer stem cells.

Description of Research

Dr. Foster's laboratory conducts basic and translational research in tumor biology and immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. His research interests include genetic modification of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and activated T cells (ATC) to improve their function (e.g. tumor specificity, survival and persistence, in vivo migration) following injection into patients. Dr. Foster is also investigating the use of T cells as a novel antigen presenting cell (TAPC) for use as a cancer vaccine and to deliver therapeutic molecules throughout the body. In collaboration with Dr. Rebekah Drezek at Rice University, Dr. Foster is investigating the use of T cells for the therapeutic delivery of gold nanoparticles into tumors. In addition to gene therapy applications using T cells, he is also leading research on targeting cancer stem cells (CSC) using cancer vaccines, antigen-specific CTLs, and gene-modified ATCs. CSCs possess increased resistance to commonly used chemotherapy agents, but are sensitive to immune-mediated killing. Therefore, Dr Foster's group is identifying novel antigens in CSCs from a variety of malignancies, including lymphoma and leukemia, to develop immunotherapies aimed at eliminating drug resistance CSCs.

Major Areas of Research

Cancer stem cells, immunotherapy, cancer vaccines, T cell therapy

Recent Publications

Craddock JA, Lu A, Bear A, Pule M, Brenner MK, Rooney CM and Foster AE. Enhanced Tumor Trafficking of GD2 Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells by Expression of the Chemokine Receptor CCR2b. J Immunotherapy. 2010. (In press)

Shafer JA, Cruz CR, Leen AM, Ku S, Lu A, Rousseau A, Heslop HE, Rooney CM, Bollard CM, Foster AE. Antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes can target chemoresistant side-population tumor cells in Hodgkin lymphoma. Leuk Lymphoma. 2010 May;51(5):870-80.

Foster AE, Okur FV, Biagi E, Lu A, Dotti G, Yvon E, Savoldo B, Carrum G, Goodell MA, Heslop HE, Brenner MK. Selective elimination of a chemoresistant side population of B-CLL cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes in subjects receiving an autologous hCD40L/IL-2 tumor vaccine. Leukemia. 2010 Mar;24(3):563-72. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

Foster AE, Okur FV, Biagi E, Lu A, Dotti G, Yvon E, Savoldo B, Carrum G, Andreeff M, Goodell MA, Heslop HE, Brenner MK. Selective depletion of a minor subpopulation of B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells is followed by a delayed but progressive loss of bulk tumor cells and disease regression. Mol Cancer. 2009 Nov 18;8:106.

Kaka AS, Shaffer DR, Hartmaier R, Leen AM, Lu A, Bear A, Rooney CM, Foster AE. Genetic modification of T cells with IL-21 enhances antigen presentation and generation of central memory tumor-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. J Immunother. 2009 Sep;32(7):726-36.


Texas Children's Cancer Center Lab