The John F. DiPersio Immunotherapy Symposium took place on Wednesday March 27, 2024. The symposium honors John DiPersio’s contributions to the understanding of the pathogenesis of and development of new treatments for hematopoietic malignancies.  

The symposium featured presentations by three leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy.  Dr. Stanley Riddell (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) discussed strategies to optimize the use of T cell immunotherapy based.  Dr. Jedd Wolchok (Weill Cornell) discussed recent work to augment immune checkpoint blockade for the treatment of melanoma.  Finally, Dr. Carl June (University of Pennsylvania) presented his ground-breaking research on enhancing CAR T cell therapies.

Videos of these three presentations as well as the Dr. DiPersio’s speech are available here .

John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD

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

Virginia E. and Sam J. Goldman Professor in Medicine

Professor of Medicine and Pathology & Immunology
Director, Center for Gene and Cellular Immunotherapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Dr. DiPersio’s research focuses on mechanistic and translational aspects of leukemia and stem cell biology. He has played a key role in the clinical development of plerixafor as a mobilizing agent for stem cell transplantation. His recent studies have focused on the development of novel methods of targeting the hematopoietic niche through the development of highly active small molecule inhibitors of CXCR4 and VLA-4, and agonists of CXCR2, for both stem cell mobilization and chemosensitization. He was the first to implicate the role of JAK1/2 signaling in GvHD pathogenesis which led to FDA approval of ruxolitinib for the treatment of steroid refractory acute GvHD. His recent studies have uncovered the mechanisms by which JAK inhibitors alter T cell biology,and have led to the identification of ‘best-in-class” JAK inhibitors for the prevention and treatment of GvHD in humans.
Dr. DiPersio has played a key leadership role in the team-science work at Washington University that has defined the genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to clonal evolution and relapse in AML. His group was the first to use whole genome sequencing to define clonal evolution at relapse resulting from the expansion of very small genetically defined AML subclones. Recently, this group showed that epigenetic downregulation of HLA Class II antigens on AML blasts is associated with immune escape, often leading to relapse after allogeneic transplantation. Together, these studies have changed our understanding of AML relapse after chemotherapy and/or transplantation.
His group has recently developed a novel conditioning regimen for successfully engrafting donor cells across major allogeneic barriers, using chemotherapy- and radiation-free conditioning regimens which may significantly influence how patients

are prepared for gene therapy for inherited diseases, such as sickle cell anemia. Finally, his lab has developed the first off-the-shelf, fratricide-resistant CAR-T cells for the treatment of patients with relapsed CD7+ T-ALL and have found ways to enhance the expansion, persistence and anti-tumor efficacy of CAR-T cells for multiple cancers using analogues of IL-7 and IL-15.
Dr. DiPersio is an internationally recognized leader in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and acute leukemia. He has served in leadership roles for the American Society of Hematology (ASH), multiple NIH, CIRM, LLS, and CPRIT Study Sections, and has served on NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors. He is an elected member of ASCI and AAP, and past president of the American Society of Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (2019). He has received the AACR Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research in 2014, the ASH Mentor Award for Clinical Investigation in 2014, the 2022 American Italian Cancer Foundation Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine, 2022 American College of Physicians Harriet P. Dustan Award for Science as Related to Medicine and an NCI R35 Outstanding Investigator Award in 2017. His work has resulted in more than 450 publications, more than 20 patents, and the co-founding of two companies (Magenta Therapeutics, Cambridge MA and WUGEN, St Louis MO).
Dr. DiPersio was the Chief of the Division of Oncology and Deputy Director of the NCI-CCC Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine from 1994-2022