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
Reetakshi Arora, Ph.D.
Reetakshi received her Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Immunology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (2004) and did her postdoctoral training from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. She is proficient in the field of virology, molecular biology, and immunology and has experience in managing vaccine development programs. Reetakshi joined Wargo’s research group in 2018 and is responsible for managing the Wargo Laboratory's scientific, technical and financial operations.
Elizabeth Burton, MBA
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
Vancheswaran “Deepak” Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Surgical Oncology
Deepak is a trained dentist from Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, India, and has obtained a Ph.D. in Cancer Epidemiology from The University of Texas School of Public Health. The focus of his research is to characterize the oral and gut microbiomes and understand their influence on modulating responses to cancer therapy, particularly immune-checkpoint blockade in melanoma patients. He is also studying the influence of host factors on the microbiome, and the landscape of the microbiome across the spectrum of disease in melanoma patients.
Sangeetha Reddy, M.D., 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.
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 microbiota and the innate immune system in the context of carcinogenesis.
Robert Szczepaniak Sloane
Graduate Research Assistant
Robert is a GSBS student in the Immunology Ph.D. program. Robert is currently assisting Wargo in her lab and working on his Ph.D.
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 an M.D. degree and a Master's degree in psycho-oncology and is a board certified hematologist and medical oncologist. He is being mentored by Wargo and Don Gibbons, M.D., in the department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology. Pierre plans to complete his Ph.D. and pursue his post-doctoral studies.
Md Abdul Wadud Khan, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Surgical Oncology
Wadud is a postdoctoral scholar working on gut microbiome projects in Wargo lab. He completed master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2011 and Ph.D. from University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. Before he came to the U.S., he completed his undergrad in 2008 from the Microbiology department, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. His current research focuses on how the gut microbiome influences the response to cancer immunotherapy and to modulate the gut microbiota for improved response to immunotherapy. He has expertise on analyzing multiomics data of gut microbiome ranging from non-malignant diseases such as CDI and IBD to malignant diseases such as melanoma.
Past lab members and contributors
- Zachary Cooper, Ph.D.
- Jacob Austin-Breneman
- Peter A. Prieto, M.D., M.P.H.
- Luigi Nezi, Ph.D.
- Hong Jiang, Ph.D.
- Alexandre Reuben, Ph.D.
- Christine Spencer, M.P.H.
2014 Lab Lunch
From left to right: Pei-Ling, Deepak, Hong, Jacob, Alex, Christine, Zac and Dr. Wargo