Scientific Founders

John DiPersio, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. DiPersio is the Chief of Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, where he is the Virginia E. and Samuel J. Golman Professor of Medicine. He is the Deputy Director of Siteman Cancer Center and Director of the Washington University Center for Gene and Cellular Immunotherapy.  His research focuses on fundamental and translational aspects of leukemia and stem cell biology. These studies include identification of genetic abnormalities in human leukemias, understanding processes involving stem cell and leukemia cell trafficking, adoptive cellular therapy and clinical and translational programs in both leukemia/MDS and stem cell transplantation.

Dr. DiPersio received his M.D. and Ph.D from the University of Rochester. He conducted his internship and residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he became chief resident.  He completed his fellowship in Division of Hematology-Oncology, UCLA School of Medicine, where he became Assistant professor. He spent four years at the University of Rochester School of Medicine before moving to Washington University where he now leads the Division of Oncology.

Todd Fehniger, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Fehniger is a physician-scientist with over 25 years of experience in Immunology and Oncology. Dr. Fehniger is a Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, Scientific Co-Director of the Center for Gene and Cellular Immunotherapy, and Co-Leader of the lymphoma program at the Siteman Cancer Center.  Dr. Fehniger leads a research team focused on mechanisms of NK cell development and function, strategies to enhance immune responses to cancer, and lymphoma immunogenomics.  His laboratory identified human memory NK cells differentiating after stimulation through combined cytokine receptors and pioneered translating NK cell memory as a cellular immunotherapy for leukemia.  His clinical interests are hematologic malignancies, hematopoietic cell transplantation, and cellular immunotherapy.

Dr. Fehniger received his M.D. and Ph.D. in Immunology from Ohio State University, performing graduate training in the laboratory of Michael Caligiuri studying human NK cells. He conducted post-doctoral research studying the mechanisms of lymphocyte cytotoxicity with Dr. Timothy Ley at Washington University School of Medicine. He has led an independent basic, translational, and early phase clinical research program since joining the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in 2008.

Matthew Cooper, Ph.D.

Dr. Cooper has over 15 years of experience in oncology. He conducted his post-doctoral research in hematologic malignancies with Dr. John DiPersio at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Cooper has since held the position of Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Cooper’s work has focused on developing next generation CAR-T for the treatment of hematologic malignancies, overcoming the barriers that limit the safety and efficacy of adoptive cellular therapies. 

Dr. Cooper received his Ph.D. in Cancer Genetics and his B.Sc., with Honors, in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Surrey, in the United Kingdom.

Melissa Berrien-Elliott, Ph.D.

Dr. Berrien-Elliott has over 10 years of experience in cytotoxic cellular immunotherapy and is a co-founder of Wugen. Dr. Berrien-Elliott’s interest is in translational immunology and immunotherapy. Dr. Berrien-Elliott has extensively studied in vivo memory NK cell differentiation in patients with hematologic malignancies. Dr. Berrien-Elliott is an Instructor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Berrien-Elliott received her Ph.D. with honors from Saint Louis University School of Medicine’s Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Program. She conducted her post-doctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine in Dr. Fehniger’s laboratory investigating NK cell immunotherapies and in vivo immune modulation in the context of clinical trials.

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