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Karsten Sauer, PhD

Associate Professor Adjunct
Department of Immunology and Microbiology
California Campus
Laboratory Website
Scripps VIVO Scientific Profile
(858) 784-7397

Other Joint Appointments

Director of Cancer Immunology, Pfizer

Research Focus

My broad research interest are the signal transduction mechanisms governing development and function of the immune system. We aim to identify novel molecular mechanisms through which the immune system protects us from pathogens, and to elucidate molecular defects which cause or promote autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiencies or cancer. By improving our mechanistic understanding of these important conditions, we hope to identify and validate novel targets for improved therapies.

In one long-term project, we have investigated the roles of soluble inositol phosphates as important but little understood novel messengers in lymphocyte signaling and development. We identified inositol tetrakisphosphate (IP4) as a soluble regulator of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) function, a paramount effector of signaling in most cell types, and an important proto-oncogene. We showed that IP4 is essential for multiple aspects of lymphocyte development and function, in particular for hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis, for T and B cell development and function, and for the function of natural killer cells (NK cells).
In another main project, we are studying molecular and structural mechanisms through which kinases, the second-largest class of targets for immunomodulatory, cytostatic and other drugs, can become drug resistant. We hope that these studies will instruct novel approaches to overcome drug resistance in patients.

At Pfizer, I head up the cancer immuno-pharmacology group in the Oncology R&D unit. I am responsible for a broad portfolio of immuno-oncology assets from early discovery through all phases of preclinical development including IND filing and initiation of clinical trials in collaboration with Pfizer's clinical science group.


Ph.D., Biology, University of Tuebingen, 1996

Professional Experience

2015-2017 Associate Professor Adjunct, Immunology and Microbial Science (IMS), The Scripps Research Institute
2006-2015 Associate Professor, Immunology and Microbial Science (IMS), The Scripps Research Institute
2006-2015 Faculty Member, Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, The Scripps Research Institute

Awards & Professional Activities

2014 The American Association of Immunologists Career Fellowship
2011 The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award

Selected References

All Publications

Westernberg, L., Conche, C., Huang, Y.H., Rigaud, S., Deng, Y., Siegemund, S., Mukherjee, S., Nosaka, L., Das, J. and Sauer, K. (2016) Non-canonical antagonism of PI3K by the kinase Itpkb delays thymocyte β-selection and renders it Notch-dependent. eLife 5:e10786.

Siegemund, S., Rigaud, S., Conche, C., Broaten, B., Schaffer, L., Westernberg, L., Head, S.R. and Sauer, K. (2015) IP3 3-Kinase B Controls Hematopoietic Stem Cell Homeostasis and Prevents Lethal Hematopoietic Failure in Mice. Blood 125, 2786-2797.

Sauer, K.*, Park, E., Siegemund, S., French, A.R., Wahle, J.A., Sternberg, L., Rigaud, S., Jonsson, A.H., Yokoyama, W.M. and Huang, Y.H.* (2013) Inositol Tetrakisphosphate Limits NK Cell Effector Functions by Controlling PI3K Signaling. Blood 121, 286-297. *Co-corresponding authors.

Barouch-Bentov, R., and Sauer, K. Mechanisms of Drug Resistance in Kinases. (2011) Expert Opin. Investig. Drugs. 20; 153-208.

Sauer, K., and Cooke, M.P. Regulation of Immune Cell Development Through Soluble Inositol-1,3,4,5-tetrakisphosphate. (2010) Nature Reviews Immunology 10, 257-271.

Barouch-Bentov, R., Che, J., Lee, C.C., Yang, Y., Herman, A., Jia, Y., Velentza, A., Watson, J., Sternberg, L., Kim, S., Ziaee, N., Miller, A., Jackson, C., Fujimoto, M., Young, M., Batalov, S., Liu, Y., Warmuth, M., Wiltshire, T., Cooke, M.P., and Sauer, K. (2009) A Conserved Salt Bridge in the G Loop of Multiple Protein Kinases Is Important for Catalysis and for in Vivo Lyn Function. Molecular Cell 33, 43-52.

Huang, Y. H., Grasis, J., Miller, A. T., Xu, R., Soonthornvacharin, S., Andreotti, A. H., Tsoukas, C. D., Cooke, M. P., and Sauer, K. (2007) Positive Regulation of Itk PH Domain Function by Soluble IP4. Science 316, 886-889.


Visit Karsten Sauer at LinkedIN

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