Dr. Rongfu Wang is a Professor of Pediatrics for the Cancer and Blood Disease Institute and the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation & Cellular Therapy at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), is an Endowed Chair and Director of the Cell Therapy Research Program at CHLA. He is also a Professor of Medicine, the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Wang received his Ph.D. degree in Molecular Genetics at the University of Georgia in 1992, and completed his postdoctoral training with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1994. He then completed a Cancer Immunotherapy Fellowship with Dr. Steve Rosenberg at the National Cancer Institute in 1996 and continued as a Senior Investigator until 2000 at the National Cancer Institute, NIH. During his tenure at NCI, Dr. Wang made seminal contributions to cancer antigen discovery and cancer immunotherapy.
In 2000, Dr. Wang was appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine. At Baylor, he continued his work in identifying new cancer antigens and developing cancer vaccines. In 2004, Dr. Wang was promoted to Professor with tenure. In 2006, he received the Michael DeBakey Excellence in Research Award and in 2007 he was granted the endowed Jack L. Titus Professorship. In 2011, Dr. Wang moved his laboratory to Houston Methodist Research Institute, where he built and became Director of a new Center for Inflammation and Epigenetics with an appointment as Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University. Because of his outstanding contribution, Dr. Wang received several awards, including Presidential Awards in 2013 and 2016 in Houston Methodist Research Institute. Since 2019, Dr. Wang and his team joined University of Southern California.
Research interests of Dr. Wang include cancer antigen discovery, cancer immunotherapy, innate immune signaling, and epigenetic reprogramming of stem cells and immune cells. Throughout his career, Dr. Wang has discovered numerous cancer antigens, some (NY-ESO-1) of which have been demonstrated in clinical studies with TCR-T cell immunotherapy. His team has identified antigen-specific regulatory T cells, which can be reversed by Toll-Like Receptor 8 signaling, and discovered critical epigenetic regulators in T-cell differentiation and in induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming. Dr. Wang’s research findings have been published in the top journals, including Science, Cell, Immunity, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, Cell Metabolism, Cell host & Microbe, JEM, JCI and Mol. Cell. More recently, his team developed novel self-assembled peptide nanoparticles (SAPNANO) technology, novel CAR-T technology and neoantigen discovery platform for vaccine and CAR/TCR-T immunotherapy. To further understand and improve the T cell trafficking and persistence, Dr. Wang and his team reprogram immune cells and tumor microenvironment by using epigenetic, metabolic and microbiota approaches, thus leading to the development of novel and robust cancer therapeutics. In addition, Dr. Wang investigates microbiota and innate immune signaling to modulate immunity against cancer, infectious disease and Alzheimer’s disease.