Dr Steven Lee

Steve Lee.Cancer Research Birmingham Univesity Head shots day 2.

Dr Steven Lee is a Senior Research Fellow whose research is focused on engineering T cells to target human tumours, either by attacking the malignant cells directly, or targeting the blood vessels that supply the tumour.

Senior Research Fellow in the School of Cancer Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham.  

Email: s.p.lee@bham.ac.uk

UoB profile

Background and Research focus

Steve’s research group is investigating ways to engineer T cells using either chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) or T cell receptors (TCRs) to target the tumour cell or vital stromal components. In particular, his current work is exploring the use of CARs to target antigens selectively expressed on the tumour vasculature in order to compromise blood flow in tumour tissue and thereby provide therapeutic benefit (work in collaboration with Prof Roy Bicknell). In addition the group is using T cell receptor gene transfer approaches to target virally encoded antigens for Epstein-Barr virus-associated malignancies such as Nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma NK-T lymphomas and Post-transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease.

Steve received a Career Development Award from the MRC, then a Senior Cancer Research Fellowship from Cancer Research UK, and continues to receive major funding from this and other organisations including the Wellcome Trust. Steve’s lab has extensive experience in T cell cloning and assays of T cell function, as well as use of recombinant viruses for genetic engineering of immune cells. His group aims to use these approaches to develop safe and effective T cell-based therapies for human cancer. As part of this work he collaborates with many colleagues within the CIIC as well as others in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong and the USA.


T lymphocytes; tumour immunology; tumour immunotherapy; T cell trafficking; adoptive T cell therapy; CAR and TCR engineering; Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); EBV-associated malignancies.

Other activities

Dr Lee is an enthusiastic communicator on the theme of immune-based therapies forcancer presenting his work to both academics and the general public. In addition to his research commitments, Dr Lee makes substantial contributions to teaching undergraduate, postgraduate and medical students. In particular, he is the lead coordinator for the Immunotherapy Small group teaching sessions on the MBChB course as well delivering lectures on the MBChB and B. Med. Science courses at the University of Birmingham.  Dr Lee is the Deputy Biological Safety Officer for the School of Cancer Sciences and is the lead coordinator for the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre (CIIC) internal seminar programme.


Frumento G, Zheng Y, Aubert G, Raeiszadeh M, Lansdorp PM, Moss P, Lee SP, Chen FE. Cord blood T cells retain early differentiation phenotype suitable for immunotherapy after TCR gene transfer to confer EBV specificity. Am J Transplant. 2013 Jan;13(1):45-55.

Oldham KA, Parsonage G, Bhatt RI, Wallace DMA, Deshmukh N, Chaudhri S, Adams DH and Lee SP (2012) T lymphocyte recruitment into Renal Cell Carcinoma tissue: A role for chemokine receptors CXCR3, CXCR6, CCR5 and CCR6. Eur Urol. 61, 385-394.

Parsonage G, Machado LR, Hui J, McLarnon A, Schmaler T, Balasothy M, To K-F, Vlantis AC, van Hasselt CA, Lo KW, Wong W-L, Hui EP, Chan A and Lee SP (2012) CXCR6 and CCR5 localise T lymphocyte subsets in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. Am J Pathol. 180, 1215-22.

Fox CP, Haigh TA, Taylor GS, Long HM, Lee SP, Shannon-Lowe C, O’Connor S, Bollard CM, Iqbal J, Chan WC, Rickinson AB, Bell AI, Rowe M (2010) A novel latent membrane 2 transcript expressed in Epstein-Barr virus-positive NK and T cell lymphoproliferative disease encodes a target for cellular immunotherapy. Blood. 116, 3695-3704.

Brooks, JM, Lee SP, Leese AM, Thomas WA, Rowe M and Rickinson AB (2009) Cyclical Expression of EBV Latent Membrane Protein 1 in EBV-Transformed B Cells Underpins Heterogeneity of Epitope Presentation and CD8+ T Cell Recognition. J Immunol. 182, 1919–1928.

Machado, L, Jarrett R, Morgan S, Murray P, Hunter B, Crocker J, Thomas W, Steven N, Ismail T, Chapman A, Adams D, Lee S (2009) Expression and function of T cell homing molecules in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cancer Immunol. Immunother. 58, 85-94.

Long HM, Haigh TA, Gudgeon NH, Leen AM, Tsang CW, Brooks J, Landais E, Houssaint E, Lee SP, Rickinson AB, Taylor GS. CD4+ T-cell responses to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent-cycle antigens and the recognition of EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines. J Virol. 2005 Apr;79(8):4896-907.

Lee SP, Brooks JM, Al Jarrah H, Thomas WA, Haigh TA, Taylor GS, Humme S, Schepers A, Hammerschmidt W, Yates JL, Rickinson AB and Blake NW (2004) CD8 T cell recognition of endogenously expressed Epstein Barr virus nuclear antigen 1. J.Exp.Med. 199, 1409-1420.

Chapman, A.L.N., A.B. Rickinson, W.A. Thomas, R.F. Jarrett, J. Crocker and S.P. Lee. 2001. Epstein-Barr Virus-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Responses in the blood and tumour site of Hodgkin’s Disease patients: Implications for a T Cell-Based Therapy. Cancer Research. 61: 6219-6226.

Blake, N.W., S.P. Lee, I. Redchenko, W. Thomas, N. Steven, A. Leese, P. Steigerwald-Mullen, M.G. Kurilla, L. Frappier and A.B. Rickinson. 1997. Human CD8+ T cell responses to Epstein-Barr virus EBNA 1: HLA class I presentation of the (Gly-Ala)-containing protein requires exogenous processing. Immunity 7. 791-802.