Qizhi Tang, PhD

Director, UCSF Transplantation Research Lab
Director, UCSF FOCiS Center of Excellence
Department of Surgery
Research Description: 

The Tang lab focuses on translating knowledge on mechanisms of immune tolerance into novel therapeutics for treating autoimmune diabetes and preventing transplant rejection. Currently, two major areas of work are on therapeutic application of regulatory T cell therapy in type 1 diabetes and transplantation and immune modulation to enable immune suppression-free transplant of stem-cell-derived beta cells for treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Regulatory T cells are a small population of white blood cells that are essential for preventing tissue damages caused by over activation of the immune system. The Tang lab has shown that infusion of regulatory T cells in animal models can reverse type 1 diabetes, a disease caused by immune destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreatic islets. Similarly, regulatory T cell therapy can prevent rejection of transplanted organs in animal models. A joint team of researchers from the Tang and Bluestone labs is currently conducting 6 clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of regulatory T cell therapy in patients. In the mean time, we are developing next generation regulatory T cell therapies in preclinical models to improve the safety and efficacy of the therapy.

In patients with chronic type 1 diabetes, transplanting of stem-cell-derived beta cells can potentially cure the disease, but patients have to commit to life-long immunosuppression to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells from rejection by the immune system. The Tang lab is currently investigating approaches to shield the transplanted cells from the immune systems using novel biomaterials developed in the Desai and Roy labs at UCSF. We are also applying genome-editing technologies to immunoengineer stem cells to evade immune rejection.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Tissue / Organ Biology & Endocrinology
Research Summary: 
Cellular therapies for type 1 diabetes and transplantation
Mentorship Development: 

5/2021 - Sharpening your Mentoring Skills (SyMS)


Featured Publications: 

Type 1 diabetes immunotherapy using polyclonal regulatory T cells.

Science translational medicine

Bluestone JA, Buckner JH, Fitch M, Gitelman SE, Gupta S, Hellerstein MK, Herold KC, Lares A, Lee MR, Li K, Liu W, Long SA, Masiello LM, Nguyen V, Putnam AL, Rieck M, Sayre PH, Tang Q

Targeting Treg signaling for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Current opinion in immunology

Spence A, Klementowicz JE, Bluestone JA, Tang Q

Therapeutic regulatory T cells subvert effector T cell function in inflamed islets to halt autoimmune diabetes.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Mahne AE, Klementowicz JE, Chou A, Nguyen V, Tang Q

Attenuation of donor-reactive T cells allows effective control of allograft rejection using regulatory T cell therapy.

American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons

Lee K, Nguyen V, Lee KM, Kang SM, Tang Q

Regulatory T-cell therapy in transplantation: moving to the clinic.

Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine

Tang Q, Bluestone JA

Clinical grade manufacturing of human alloantigen-reactive regulatory T cells for use in transplantation.

American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons

Putnam AL, Safinia N, Medvec A, Laszkowska M, Wray M, Mintz MA, Trotta E, Szot GL, Liu W, Lares A, Lee K, Laing A, Lechler RI, Riley JL, Bluestone JA, Lombardi G, Tang Q

Regulatory T-cell therapy for transplantation: how many cells do we need?

Current opinion in organ transplantation

Tang Q, Lee K

Central role of defective interleukin-2 production in the triggering of islet autoimmune destruction.


Tang Q, Adams JY, Penaranda C, Melli K, Piaggio E, Sgouroudis E, Piccirillo CA, Salomon BL, Bluestone JA

Visualizing regulatory T cell control of autoimmune responses in nonobese diabetic mice.

Nature immunology

Tang Q, Adams JY, Tooley AJ, Bi M, Fife BT, Serra P, Santamaria P, Locksley RM, Krummel MF, Bluestone JA

In vitro-expanded antigen-specific regulatory T cells suppress autoimmune diabetes.

The Journal of experimental medicine

Tang Q, Henriksen KJ, Bi M, Finger EB, Szot G, Ye J, Masteller EL, McDevitt H, Bonyhadi M, Bluestone JA

Cutting edge: CD28 controls peripheral homeostasis of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Tang Q, Henriksen KJ, Boden EK, Tooley AJ, Ye J, Subudhi SK, Zheng XX, Strom TB, Bluestone JA