Hazem Ghoneim, PhD

Dr. Ghoneim works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity at the OSU College of Medicine since 2019. He grew up close to the Giza pyramids in Memphis, Egypt. After obtaining a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences with Highest Honors from Cairo University, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee to pursue his doctoral degree in Microbiology and Immunology. Working with Dr. Jon. McCullers who is a pioneer Physician Scientist in influenza research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Ghoneim discovered a novel mechanism underlying the synergism between primary influenza infections and bacterial superinfections (Ghoneim, et al. Journal of Immunology 2013). He also developed novel approaches to address important clinical questions about optimal therapeutic management of complicated pneumonia utilizing pre-clinical models of secondary bacterial pneumonia. His results have proven to be consistent with those emerging from several clinical trials (Ghoneim & McCullers – Journal of Infectious Diseases 2014). After finishing his PhD, Dr. Ghoneim was intrigued by the success of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy that emerged as a revolutionary treatment for cancer. To address challenges to T cell immunotherapy, he joined Dr. Youngblood’s lab at St. Jude where he studied epigenetic mechanisms that regulate T cell differentiation and function. In 2016, he wrote an opinion review article framing a new hypothesis that mechanistically explains the role of epigenetic DNA methylation programming in silencing CD8 T cell function during chronic virus infection or cancer and restricting T cell response to ICB therapy (Ghoneim, et al. Trends in Molecular Medicine 2016– featured on the journal cover). Meanwhile, he tested this hypothesis using preclinical models of chronic viral infection and cancer, and found that de novo DNA methylation programming enforces terminal T cell exhaustion. Importantly, he discovered that these epigenetic programs restrain T cell response to ICB therapy (Ghoneim, et al. Cell 2017). These findings provided seminal insights into the field of T cell immunotherapy, and were featured in Science magazine and “Faculty of 1000 Prime” for their special significance. He has also co-authored publications in Nature, Nature Immunology, and Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Academic Appointments:

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Member, Cancer Biology Program, the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH

Member, T Cell Biology Program, the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Member, Host Defense and Microbial Biology Program, the Infectious Diseases Institute, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Education and Training:

Postdoctoral Fellowship, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA

Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA