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DiPersio receives innovation award

Oncologist recognized for developing new therapies for blood cancers

May 20, 2024

Tina McGrath Photography

John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD, the Virginia E. and Sam J. Golman Endowed Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for his research contributions to the field of oncology that are paving the way for novel cancer therapies.

DiPersio, who treats patients at Siteman Cancer Center, based at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the School of Medicine, is an expert in understanding and treating leukemia – cancers that affect blood cells. His research aims to improve cancer care by developing novel strategies that enhance immunotherapy. With the help of the university’s Office of Technology Management, he co-founded Wugen, a Washington University startup that develops cell-based immunotherapies, including “universal” CAR-T cell therapies to target leukemia and lymphoma using off-the-shelf treatments rather than patient-derived therapies.

DiPersio’s research program also has focused on optimizing stem cell transplantation, which together with chemotherapy is used to treat leukemia patients. As an inaugural recipient of the Needleman Program for Innovation and Commercialization Award, he and his team are developing small molecules to help move stem cells from the bone marrow cavity into the blood stream faster. Such novel tools also will aid in the collection of robust numbers of donor stem cells that can be used to treat blood cancer patients.

DiPersio also co-founded the startup company Magenta Therapeutics and is a member of the scientific advisory boards for Wugen and for Rivervest Ventures.