Wayne A. Marasco, M.D., Ph.D., Chief

Professor, Dept of Cancer Immunology and AIDS
   Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine
   Harvard Medical School
Associate Physician, Division of Infectious Diseases, Dept of Medicine
   Brigham and Women's Hospital
Board of Distinguished Advisors, The Antibody Society

Office: (617) 632-2153

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altFrom the Chief

Clinical Interests

I am a physician/scientist with clinical training in Infectious Diseases.  My clinical subspecialty training is in the care of immunocompromised patients with bone marrow and solid organ transplants and cancer.  My clinical practice has had a profound influence on the research conducted in my laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).  During my clinical rotations on the inpatient Infectious Disease (ID) service at Brigham & Women's Hospital (BWH)/DFCI, I supervise ID fellows and medical residents in the management of infections in immunocompromised patients.

Research Interests

My research interests are in the field of human antibody engineering and regenerative medicine.  We use human antibodies in discovery research and in the treatment of human diseases.  We are also developing humanized mouse models for use in regenerative medicine and adult stem cell research.

As a principal investigator, I supervise two junior faculty, seven post-doctoral fellows/scholars and five research technicians. This supervision involves mentorship roles in bench and clinical research, manuscript review and grant writing. On the national level, I serve on several NIH study sections and have a leadership role in the organization of and presentation at targeted gene therapy and antibody engineering meetings.

In the field of antibody engineering we work in two broad areas of infectious diseases and cancer immunotherapy.  For infectious diseases, my laboratory is working in the areas of HIV/AIDS, emerging infectious diseases (SARS, highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu), West Nile Virus (encephalitis), Denge virus (hemorrhagic fever)).  In the field of cancer Immunotherapy, we are also actively working on cancer, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma (CTCL)),  and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This breadth of research is made possible because of two research developments in my laboratory in the field of human antibody engineering.

The first is our seminal discovery that human antibodies can not only be used to target proteins on the surface of cells and microbes but can also be used in the form known as intracellular antibodies or intrabodies, which can be delivered to cells by gene transfer techniques. In this way, human antibodies can be expressed in different subcellular compartments inside cells where they can bind to their target protein and modulate its function.

The second research development in my laboratory is the construction and characterization of several of the largest human antibody phage display libraries ever made (tens of billions of members). We have validated the quantity and high quality of the human antibodies that can be obtained from this library through the discoveries that we have made in the research areas mentioned above. Ongoing pre-clinical studies and clinical trials using human monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) are moving forward for the prevention and treatment of influenza A infections, SARS and flavivirus diseases including West Nile virus encephalitis. Our cancer immunotherapies are in different pre-clinical stages of development. 

In an effort to greatly expand the use of human monoclonal antibodies (Mab) in the treatment of cancer, I founded the National Foundation of Cancer Research (NFCR) Center for Therapeutic ANtibody Engineering (CTAE). My CTAE laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is working with cancer investigators around the globe to utilize our human antibody library to discover new human Mab for the treatment of cancer. In this way, the CTAE can facilitate a broad range of discovery and translational research in cancer that would not be possible for a single laboratory. This also allows CTAE to work with some of the most accomplished cancer investigators in the world.

Finally, we now have over 4 years of experience in constructing humanized mice  and I head a Harvard Medical School team in this effort.  These mice have broad pre-clinical applications in the research efforts described above.  Importantly, these mice will also allow us to investigate human adult stem cell biology and their applications in the field of regenerative medicine.