Jennifer A. Wargo, M.D., M.Ms.
Associate Professor, Surgical Oncology
Associate Professor, Genomic Medicine
Jennifer A. Wargo, M.D., M.Ms. has significantly contributed to the knowledge of resistance mechanisms and the effect of targeted therapy on anti-tumor immunity. She joined MD Anderson in September 2013 to build a program collecting serial biopsies in patients, particularly those with melanoma, being treated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The goal of this program is to better understand responses to therapy and develop novel strategies to combat resistance.
By studying patients with metastatic melanoma initially treated with immune checkpoint blockade, Wargo's research program uncovered important biomarkers of response. Potential mechanisms of therapeutic resistance to immune checkpoint blockade were also identified. These findings were published in the Summer 2016 edition of Cancer Discovery and have far-reaching implications for the use of immune checkpoint blockade in precision medicine.
Currently, her team is examining the microbiome — the collective population of microorganisms that live in and on humans — to determine the role it plays in patient response to cancer therapy.
Wargo lab faculty
Scientific Project Director, Surgical Oncology
Elizabeth (Liz) serves as the project director for the Melanoma Moon Shot™ and its high-priority projects including basic and translational research projects, clinical research, behavioral science interventions, and legislative/policy initiatives.
Wargo lab staff members
Alexandre Reuben, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Surgical Oncology
Alex is a translational scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Tumor Immunology from the University of Montreal. His research focus is to understand the heterogeneity and dynamics of responses to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy in metastatic melanoma.
Vancheswaran “Deepak” Gopalakrishnan, MPH
Graduate Research Asst-UTHSCH, Surgical Oncology
Deepak is a trained dentist from Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, India, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Cancer Epidemiology from The University of Texas School of Public Health. The focus of his research is to understand the influence of the oral and gut microbiomes in influencing responses to cancer therapy, particularly immune-checkpoint blockade in melanoma patients.
Christine Spencer, MPH
Sr. Data Analyst, Genomic Medicine
Christine earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where she also played collegiate basketball. Christine completed her MPH in epidemiology under Lorenzo Cohen, PhD. at UTSPH/MDA. She is a doctoral candidate in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UTSPH, conducting her dissertation research on psychosocial stress signaling in metastatic melanoma patients treated with immune checkpoint blockade inhibitor therapies. She is also investigating alternative ways to gain a compressive view of therapeutic response and resistance.
Sangeetha Reddy, MD, MSci
Clinical Fellow, Cancer Medicine
Sangeetha is a medical hematology-oncology fellow who is studying mechanisms of response and resistance to neoadjuvant checkpoint therapy in melanoma. She is also studying the role of the immune microenvironment in outcomes of high risk breast cancers and how this is affected by currently available targeted therapies.
Luigi Nezi, PhD.
Instructor, Genomic Medicine
Luigi is a post-doctorate training in the laboratories of Dr. Giulio Draetta and Dr. Wargo during which he published 9 papers and is in the process to publish a first-author manuscript on a high impact factor journal.
Alexandria Cogdill, M.Eng.
Graduate Research Assistant, Surgical Oncology
Alexandria is a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the UT MD Anderson, studying immunology and molecular genetics. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s in Bioengineering and Engineering Entrepreneurship. Her previous research experiences include the NIH, Harvard Medical School and University of Pennsylvania. Alexandria’s current research seeks to elucidate the mechanisms of systemic crosstalk between the microbiota and the innate immune system in the context of carcinogenesis.
Hong Jiang, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Surgical Oncology
Robert Szczepaniak Sloane
Graduate Research Assistant
Miles Andrews, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Surgical Oncology
Miles is a Postdoctoral Fellow exploring the genomic determinants and dynamics of melanoma patients to treatment with molecularly-targeted therapies or immune checkpoint inhibitors. Miles joined the Wargo lab from Australia in October 2016.
Pierre-Olivier Gaudreau, M.D
Graduate Student - Surgical Oncology
Pierre recently joined the lab from the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Canada. He holds a MD degree and a Master's Degree in psycho-oncology and is a board certified hematologist and medical oncologist. He is being mentored by Dr. Wargo and Dr. Don Gibbons in the department of Molecular and cellular oncology. Pierre plans to complete his PhD and pursue his post-doctoral studies.
Past lab members and contributors
- Zachary Cooper, Ph.D.
- Jacob Austin-Breneman
- Peter A. Prieto, M.D., MPH
2014 Lab Lunch
From left to right: Pei-Ling, Deepak, Hong, Jacob, Alex, Christine, Zac and Dr. Wargo