Steven J. Bensinger, V.M.D., Ph.D., is a molecular immunologist and biochemist who joined the Institute for Molecular Medicine at UCLA in 2008. In 2015, he was promoted to associate professor in the departments of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology (MMP) at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. In addition, he is co-director of the UCLA Immunology, Inflammation, Infection and Transplantation (I3T) Theme seminar series, and a member of the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology Graduate Education executive committee.
Bensinger received his veterinary medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania Biomedical Graduate Studies Program in 2003. Bensinger completed a thesis on regulatory T cell development and function in the laboratory of Dr. Laurence Turka. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Tontonoz at UCLA where he examined the impact of lipid metabolism on T cell growth and survival.
The research in Bensinger's laboratory, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, focuses on defining how lipid metabolism directs the fate and function of cells, and in particular, elucidating the molecular circuitry regulating lipid homeostasis in rapidly dividing normal and neoplastic cells. By using a combination of molecular biology and analytical chemistry approaches, his lab hopes to define the molecular signals and enzymatic pathways that dictate how a cell acquires requisite lipid biomass during replication. Bensinger also has a long-standing interest in providing mechanistic insights as to how growth signals are translated into lipid metabolic programming in normal cells, and determining if these pathways become dysregulated in cancer. In parallel, his lab is also actively investigating how lipid metabolism influences the development and function of the hematopoietic system and host immunity.