Sean Hannifin

Immunology Program Graduate Student Candidate
NIH F31 Fellowship


Sean graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a BS in Nanomedicine Engineering. While at UVA, he focused on developing tumor-targeting nanoparticle drug delivery. He then attended Pennsylvania State University and earned an MS in Biomedical Engineering. During his time at PSU, he worked in the lab of Dr. Scott Medina and worked on developing ultrasound-sensitive nano-emulsions for hydrophobic drug delivery. After PSU, he was awarded the NIH Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award and worked in the Laboratory of Cancer Immunometabolism under Dr. Oppenheim at the NCI. During his time at the NCI, Sean's research involved investigating the possible synergistic effect of TLR and STING agonists in activating dendritic cells. Sean then joined the University of Michigan's Immunology Graduate Program in 2020 to pursue his interest in immunology.

Research Interests

Sean plans on studying how hypoxia (and hypoxia-related genes) in the pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma microenvironment affect tumor-infiltrating immune cell phenotype & function.


Orthotopic pancreatic injection, pancreatic GEMM, flow cytometry, qPCR, Western blot


2016: NanoStar Undergraduate Research Award
2018 - 2020: National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Training Award 


Liu, S., Han, Z., Trivett, A.L., Lin, H., Hannifin, S., Yang, D., Oppenheim, J. Cryptotanshinone has curative dual anti-proliferative and immunotherapeutic effects on mouse Lewis lung carcinoma (2019)

Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy Han, Z., Shuo, L., Lin, H., Trivett, A.L., Hannifin, S., Yang, D., & Oppenheim, J. Inhibition of murine hepatoma growth by cryptotanshinone involves TLR7 dependent activation of macrophages (2019)

Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

Outside of the lab, Sean plays soccer and is an avid Chelsea FC fan. He also loves a number of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and biking. In his downtime, he enjoys cooking and reading about philosophy & international politics.