LaBelle Lab

Cells by Grace LaBelle, 5

Research Overview

The major goal of the laboratory is to dissect and pharmacologically target intracellular proteins to induce cancer cell death and manipulate the immune response.  We are currently applying new research tools and prototype therapeutics that we, and others, have developed to target the BCL-2 family of proteins and other cell signaling proteins in immune cells.


A large part of our lab focuses on using portions of the actual proteins, or peptides, as drugs and biological tools to uncover specific molecular pathways in diseased and normal cells. Peptide-based therapeutics have enormous potential for immune modulation and direct cancer treatment but have traditionally lacked efficient stabilization and delivery within patients, and thereby, have had limited clinical applications. To are working to overcome these barriers within the lab and through collaboration with nanotechnologists and chemical engineers.


Overall, we are committed to translation of our findings to pediatric and adult patients with cancer and immune system disease. While performing research at the University of Chicago, we are in close proximity to scientists, clinicians, and patients and are deeply committed to working collaboratively with these groups to make significant inroads in treating those suffering from refractory disease.

Feature News

We are always looking for creative, motivated, and energetic postdocs to join our group and work in areas of translational immune modulation through targeting the BCL-2 family of proteins and nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery.  If interested please contact the lab! ( 


Thank you to John and Jill Svoboda for continuing to support the Svoboda Fellow to advance research to manipulate the immune response in patients with cancer.


Thank you to Lois and Jerry Beznos for their support in advancing our chemical biology and immunology research for children with cancer.


Lab News

Thank you to the Myeloma Solutions Fund (MSF) for  support in reactivating apoptosis in myeloma. 

Welcome Cancer Biology graduate student Jocelyn Hsu to the lab!

Welcome Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) graduate student Jinghang Li to the lab!

Welcome University of Chicago undergraduate students Ryan Park, Viren Maira, and Alexis Truta the lab!

Selected Recent Publications

Mathew R. Schnorenberg, Katrina M. Hawley, Anika T. Thomas-Toth, Elyse A. Watkins, Yu Tian, Jeffrey M. Ting, Logan B. Leak, Isadora M. Kucera, Michal M. Raczy, Andrew L. Kung,  Jeffrey A. Hubbell, Matthew V. Tirrell, James L. LaBelle (2023) Targeted polymersome delivery of a stapled peptide for drugging the tumor protein p53:BCL-2-family axis in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. ACS Nano.17, 23:23374-23390. Schnorenberg et al. 2023

Akshay Sharma, MBBS, Jaap-Jan Boelens, MD, PhD, Maria Cancio, MD, Jane S. Hankins, MD, MS, Prafulla Bhad, MSc, Andrew Lewandowski, PhD, Xiaojun Zhao, PhD, Shripad Chitnis, PhD, Radhika Peddinti, MD, Yan Zheng, MD, PhD, Neena Kapoor, MD, Fabio Ciceri, MD, Timothy Maclachlan, PhD, Yi Yang, PhD, Yi Liu, PhD, Jianping Yuan, PhD, Ulrike Naumann, MS, Vionnie Yu, PhD, Susan C. Stevenson, PhD, Serena De Vita, MD, PhD, James L. LaBelle, MD, PhD (2023) CRISPR-Cas9 Editing of the HBG1/HBG2 Promoters to Treat Sickle Cell Disease. N Engl J Med. 389:820-832. Sharma et al. 2023

Saygin, C., Eisfelder, B., Giordano, G., Shimamoto, K., Thomas-Toth, A., Venkataraman, G., Ananthanarayanan, V., Vincent, T.L., DuVall, A., Patel, A.A., Chen, Y., Tan, F., Anthony, S.P., Chen, Y., Shen, Y., Olatoyosi, O., Teachey, D., LaBelle, J.L.*, Stock, W.* (equal contributions) (2023). Dual targeting of apoptotic and signaling pathways in T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Clinical Cancer Research. Jun 26, CCR-23-0415. Saygin et al. 2023