Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Wainwright Laboratory of Brain Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

Our Mission

Our laboratory utilizes DNA sequencing, gene expression profiling, proteomic analyses, flow cytometric methodology and many other basic techniques to pursue goals that are ultimately translatable for improving health and overall survival in patients with brain cancer. Although our research is primarily focused on malignant glioma, with a special emphasis on glioblastoma, we are also interested in pursuing incurable pediatric brain tumors, as well as metastatic tumors that invade the brain/spinal cord. It is our sincere hope that, the basic mechanistic investigations that we carry out, uncover important and meaningful discoveries that translate into highly effective immunotherapeutic modalities for the benefit of patients with incurable cancer in the brain. Read more about us

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News & Events

Dr. Erik Ladomersky receives second year of T32 support on Signal Transduction in Cancer training grant!

DGP Graduate student April Bell received T32 support from the Carcinogenesis training grant!

Dr. Lijie Zhai receives travel award from Cancer Immunotherapy Fellowship Program!

2nd year Feinberg Medical Student, Sebastian Otto-Meyer receives AOSC Travel award!

Dr. Erik Ladomersky invited to give 2 oral talks at 2018 Society for Neuro-Oncology meeting!

8 abstracts were submitted and ACCEPTED for presentation at 2018 Society for Neuro-Oncology meeting!

Dr. Erik Ladomersky invited to give 2 oral talks at 2018 Society for Neuro-Oncology meeting!

Dr. Wainwright Co-Chairs 2018 American Brain Tumor Association meeting.

Congratulations 1st year medical student, Sebastian Otto-Meyer, for receiving a Summer Research Fellowship from Feinberg School of Medicine!

Dr. Lijie Zhai, PhD, is trail-blazing in the tumor immunobiology of IDO1! See his Poster presented at the 2018 AACR meeting here.

Congratulations to Rohan Savoor in our lab for being accepted into the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) Undergraduate Summer Research Program at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine!

View the presentation Dr. Wainwright delivered at the 2018 Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Symposium at Northwestern University.

Re-watch Dr. Wainwright’s Discussant presentation at the 2018 AACR Annual Meeting on pediatric high-grade glioma patients treated with indoximod.

Congratulations to Dr. Erik Ladomersky, PhD, for being selected to give an oral talk at the 23rd Neuro-Tumor Club Meeting during AACR!!!

Register here to learn more about the role of old age, old immune systems and glioblastoma patient diagnoses.

Re-watch Dr. Wainwright’s oral presentation on immunosuppression in brain cancer from the 2017 SNO Meeting here.

Congratulations to Dr. Erik Ladomersky, PhD, for his new manuscript in Clinical Cancer Research that supports the soon-to-open Phase I/IIa clinical trial in glioblastoma patients at Northwestern Medicine!

Please join us for the 2018 Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute Symposium.

Dr. Wainwright participated in an expert session on immunotherapy for glioblastoma

Congratulations, Lijie, on your manuscript accepted by Cellular and Molecular Immunology entitled, ‘IDO1 in cancer: a Gemini of immune checkpoints’

Congratulations to Dr. Alicia Lenzen, MD, for receiving the Second Year Fellow Translational Research Award at the 13th Annual Children's Hospital Research Day!!

Dr. Wainwright joins international leaders in immunotherapy for cancer in an Expert Round Table Discussion.

Congratulations to Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Erik Ladomersky, PhD, who was invited to speak in the 2017 Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Symposium!!

Please join Dr. Wainwright at the 5th Annual Immuno-Oncology Summit August 31st at 11:45am as he presents updates on IDO1 therapy for brain cancer.

Congratulations to Dr. Erik Ladomersky, PhD, for being awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship on the T32 Signal Transduction and Cancer training grant!!

Please join us for the 2017 Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute Symposium.

Dr. Wainwright joins world-renown pediatric brain tumor immunotherapists to discuss cutting-edge research for children with brain cancer.

Please join us Thursday, February 16th, for the Inaugural Cancer Immunology Working Group Meeting led by Drs. Sosman and Wainwright.

Congratulations Dr. Lijie Zhai, PhD, for acceptance of his manuscript,
 'Non-tumor cell IDO1 predominantly contributes to enzyme activity and response to CTLA-4/PD-L1 inhibition in mouse glioblastoma'.

Please join us on Wednesday, January 18th as Dr. Wainwright presents clinical trial data for immunotherapy of primary brain tumors in Developmental Therapeutics Program Grand Rounds.

Congratulations to Drs. Kristen Lauing, PhD, and Alicia Lenzen, MD! Their hard work investigating pediatric high-grade glioma has been awarded a large grant by the Curing Kids Cancer Foundation.

Congratulations to the Wainwright Laboratory for being awarded a 2017 Dixon Translational Research Grant for research entitled 'Investigating the Immunotherapeutic Potential of Esophageal Cancer’.

Please join us at the 2016 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Meeting where Dr. Wainwright will present updates on the role of IDO1 in human glioblastoma.

Congratulations to Dr. Erik Ladomersky, PhD, for receiving a Postdoctoral Fellowship award from the Chicago Cancer Baseball Charities!

Congratulations Dr. Lijie Zhai for receiving the Katten Muchin Rosenman Travel Scholarship for your work on identifying IDO1 as a prognostic factor in GBM patients!

Congratulations to the Wainwright Laboratory for being awarded a Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program grant from a preeminent Cancer Immunotherapy research organization: The Cancer Research Institute (CRI)! The research is entitled ‘IDO1 in glioblastoma: Translating work from mouse to man’, and has been awarded ‘in recognition of the outstanding quality and promise of your (Wainwright Lab’s) research’.

Congratulations to Erik Ladomersky, PhD, for his work being awarded Acceleration Funds from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center to expand his translational work using pharmaceutical-grade IDO1 inhibitors against malignant glioma!

Congratulations to Alicia Lenzen, MD, for being awarded a TL1 Multidisciplinary Training Program in Child and Adolescent Health from the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute. The award is for her research in developing a nanotherapeutic approach targeting immunosuppressive IDO1 for treatment of children with high grade glioma. 

Congratulations to the Wainwright Laboratory for being awarded their first R01 research grant entitled, “IDO1 and Immunotolerance in Glioblastoma”, from the NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

In collaboration with Drs. Chad Mirkin, Bin Zhang and Alex Stegh, the Wainwright Laboratory has been awarded funds through the IDP/ Sherman Fairchild Research Award to develop nanotherapy targeted at human IDO1 for treatment of glioblastoma.

Profile of Matthew Genet and his Student Research Fellowship award by the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, for his research on the role of the protein IDO1 in human glioblastoma with the Wainwright Lab

Congratulations Lijie Zhai on being awarded 2nd Place in the 2016 Yao Yuan Biotech-Pharma Symposium for his Poster Presentation entitled, ‘Interactions between IDO1 and immune checkpoint blockade in a model of glioblastoma’

Congratulations Matthew Genet on being awarded a 2016 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship from the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society! Matthew's research is titled 'The Role of IDO1 in Human Glioblastoma'.

Congratulations Matthew Genet on being selected as a 2016 Research Grant Program recipient by the American Medical Association!

Please attend the upcoming Microbiology-Immunology Departmental seminar on Thursday, February 11 (2:00-3:00pm) to hear updates regarding novel IDO1 functions and immunotherapeutic targeting in glioblastoma.

Please join us at the upcoming 2016 Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute CME Symposium on April 1st, 2016, between 7:15am-3:00pm.

A recent gift from Curing Kids Cancer and the Lurie Children’s Hospital pediatric neuro-oncologists, Drs. Fangusaro and Lulla, will support Kristen Lauing’s work to investigate IDO1 in human pediatric brain tumors.

The work of Derek Wainwright, PhD, 'Targeting Immunosuppression in Brain Tumors' featured in Feinberg School of Medicine News. His lab studies strategies to reverse pathways that inhibit the immune system from fighting glioblastoma.

Dr. Wainwright discusses immunotherapeutically targeting IDO1 in patients with glioblastoma at the 2015 Annual American Neurology Association Meeting.

Congratulations to Rebecca Angoyar for being awarded a Weinberg College Summer Research Grant!

Dr. Wainwright discusses the impact of being awarded the Discovery Grant from the American Brain Tumor Association

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Selected Publications

Binder DC, Ladomersky E, Lenzen A, Zhai L, Lauing KL, Otto-Meyer SD, Lukas RV, Wainwright DA. 2018. Lessons learned from rindopepimut treatment in patients with EGFRvIII-expressing glioblastoma. Translational Cancer Research. In Press.

Ladomersky E, Zhai L, Lenzen A, Lauing KL, Qian J, Scholtens DM, Gritsina G, Sun X, Liu Y, Yu F, Gong W, Liu Y, Jiang B, Tang Z, Patel R, Platanias LC, James CD, Stupp R, Lukas RV, Binder DC, Wainwright DA. 2018. IDO1 inhibition synergizes with radiation and PD-1 blockade to durably increase survival against advanced glioblastoma. Clinical Cancer Research. In Press. PMID: 29500275

Zhai L, Ladomersky E, Lenzen A, Nguyen B, Patel R, Lauing KL, We M, Wainwright DA. 2018. IDO1 in cancer: a Gemini of immune checkpoints. Cellular and Molecular Immunology. 15:1-11.

Zhai L, Ladomersky E, Lauing KL, Wu M, Genet M, Gritsina G, GyorffyB, Brastianos PK, Binder DC, Sosman JA, Giles FJ, James CD, Horbinski C, Stupp R, Wainwright DA. Infiltrating T cells increase IDO1 expression in glioblastoma and contribute to decreased patient survival. Clinical Cancer Research. 23(21):6650-6660. PMID: 28751450

Binder DC, Wainwright DA. 2017.The Boosting Potential of Bacteria in Cancer Immunotherapy.Trends in MolecularMedicine. Jul;23(7):580-582.
PMID: 28583420

Young J, Chmura SJ, Wainwright DA, Yamini B, Peters KB, Lukas R. Management of glioblastoma in elderly patients. Journal of Neurological Sciences. In Press. Accepted on 7-30-17

Wainwright DA, Horbinski C, Hashizume R, James CD. 2017. Therapeutic hypothesis testing with rodent brain tumor models. Neurotherapeutics. Apr;14(2):385-392. PMID: 28321824

Zhai L, Ladomersky E, Dostal CR, Lauing KL, Swoap K, Billingham LK, Gritsina G, Wu M, McCusker RH, Binder DC, Wainwright DA. 2017. Non-tumor cell IDO1 predominantly contributes to enzyme activity and response to CTLA-4/PD-L1 inhibition in mouse glioblastoma. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. In Press. PMID: 28179106

Lenzen A, Zhai L, Lauing KL, Gritsina G, Ladomersky E, Genet M, James CD, Bloch O, Wainwright DA. 2016. The kynurenine/tryptophan ratio and glioblastoma patients treated with HSPPC-96 vaccine. Immunotherapy. PMID: 27819068.

Ladomersky E, Zhai L, Gritsina G, Genet M, Lauing KL, Wu M, James CD, Wainwright DA. 2016. Advanced age negatively impacts survival in an experimental brain tumor model. Neuroscience Letters. PMID: 27493076

Ladomersky E, Genet M, Zhai L, Gritsina G, LauingKL, Lulla RR, Fangusaro J, Lenzen A, Kumthekar P, Raizer JJ, Binder DC, James CD, Wainwright DA. 2016. Improving Vaccine Efficacy Against Malignant Glioma. Oncoimmunology. PMID: 27622066

Zhai L, Spranger S, Binder DC, Gritsina G, Lauing KL, Giles FJ, Wainwright DA. 2015. Molecular pathways: targeting IDO1 and other tryptophan dioxygenases for cancer immunotherapy. Clinical Cancer Research21(24):5427-33. PMID: 26519060

Binder DC, Davis AA, Wainwright DA. 2015. Immunotherapy for cancer in the central nervous system: current and future directions. 5(2):e1082027. OncoImmunology.

Zhai L, Dey M, Lauing KL, Gritsina G, Kaur R, Lukas RV, Nicholas MK, Rademaker AW, Dostal CR, McCusker RH, Raizer JJ, Parsa AT, Bloch O, Wainwright DA. 2015. Assessing the Kynurenine to Tryptophan Ratio as a Prognostic Tool for Glioblastoma Patients Enrolling in Immunotherapy. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. S0967-5868(15)00358-6. PMID: 26279502

Zhai L, Lauing KL, Chang AL, Dey M, Qian J, Cheng Y, Lesniak MS, Wainwright DA. 2014. The role of IDO in brain tumor immunotherapy. J Neuro-oncology. 123(3):395-403. PMID: 25519303

Wainwright DA, Chang AL, Dey M, Balyasnikova IV, Kim C, Tobias AL, Cheng Y, Kim J, Zhang L, Qiao J, Han Y, Lesniak MS. 2014. Durable therapeutic efficacy utilizing combinatorial blockade against IDO, CTLA-4 and PD-L1 in mice with brain tumors. Clinical Cancer Research. 20(20):5290-301. PMID: 24691018

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Derek Wainwright, PhD

Derek Wainwright, PhD
Assistant Professor in Neurological Surgery

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