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Rongfu Wang, PhD

Professor of Inflammation and Epigenetics, Institute for Academic Medicine
Full Member, Research Institute
Director, Center for Inflammation & Epigenetics
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Wang received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1992. After receiving his doctoral degree in Molecular Genetics, Dr. Wang expanded his field of expertise by training with Dr. James Mullins in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. In 1994, Dr. Wang joined the Surgery Branch in the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland where he worked with Branch Chief, Dr. Steve Rosenberg, who is a pioneer of cancer immunotherapy. In 1996, Dr. Wang was promoted to Senior Principal Investigator.

During his tenure at the NCI, Dr. Wang made insightful discoveries on how immune cells recognize solid tumors through specific cancer antigens and published a landmark paper in Science onthe development of a novel genetic approach to identify cancer antigens recognized by CD4+ T cells. In 2000, Dr. Wang was appointed Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy and the Department of Pathology and Immunology. He was promoted to full Professor in 2004. His lab studies novel mechanisms in tumor immunity and tolerance, innate immune regulation, regulatory T cell biology, inflammation, and epigenetics. He moved his laboratory to Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2012, where he currently serves as the Director of the Center for Inflammation and Epigenetics and the Co-Director of the Metabolism and Diabetes Center.

In recognition of his academic achievements, Dr. Wang received the The Michael DeBakey Excellence in Research Award in 2006 and was bestowed with one of BCM’s highest honors; the Jack L. Titus Professorship in Pathology appointment in 2007. Throughout his career Dr. Wang has published over eighty peer-reviewed journal articles, two textbooks, has over fifteen patent applications, has received many grants from NIH, American Cancer Society, Cancer Research Institute and CPRIT, has successfully completed one clinical trial and serves in ten scientific publication review panels.

Description of Research

Dr. Wang has a long-standing interest in tumor immunotherapy and cancer vaccine development. In particular, he has been interested in tumor antigen discovery, cancer stem cells and innate immunity and functional control of regulatory T cells by Toll-like receptors. His team studies the role and mechanisms of Toll-like receptors, NOD-like receptors, negative regulators of innate immune signaling, inflammation, epigenetics and cancer immunotherapy.

Areas Of Expertise

Cancer immunology Innate immune signaling Epigenetics of cancer and stem cells Cancer immunotherapy
Education & Training

, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
, Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
, University of Georgia

The BECN1-USP19 axis plays a role in the crosstalk between autophagy and antiviral immune responses
Cui, J, Jin, S & Wang, RF 2016, Autophagy, pp. 1-2.

TRIM9 short isoform preferentially promotes DNA and RNA virus-induced production of type I interferon by recruiting GSK3ß to TBK1
Qin, Y, Liu, Q, Tian, S, Xie, W, Cui, J & Wang, RF 2016, Cell Research. DOI:

USP19 modulates autophagy and antiviral immune responses by deubiquitinating Beclin-1
Jin, S, Tian, S, Chen, Y, Zhang, C, Xie, W, Xia, X, Cui, J & Wang, RF 2016, EMBO Journal. DOI:

JMJD3 as an epigenetic regulator in development and disease
Burchfield, JS, Li, Q, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2015, International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, vol 67, 4662, pp. 148-157. DOI:

USP18 negatively regulates NF-? B signaling by targeting TAK1 and NEMO for deubiquitination through distinct mechanisms
Yang, Z, Xian, H, Hu, J, Tian, S, Qin, Y, Wang, RF & Cui, J 2015, Scientific Reports, vol 5, 12738. DOI:

Targeting epigenetic regulations in cancer
Ning, B, Li, W, Zhao, W & Wang, R 2015, Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica, vol 48, no. 1, pp. 97-109. DOI:

Identification of DRG-1 as a melanoma-associated antigen recognized by CD4<sup>+</sup> Th1 cells
Kiniwa, Y, Li, J, Wang, M, Sun, C, Lee, JE, Wang, RF & Wang, HY 2015, PLoS ONE, vol 10, no. 5, e0124094. DOI:

Porous Silicon Microparticle Potentiates Anti-Tumor Immunity by Enhancing Cross-Presentation and Inducing Type I Interferon Response
Xia, X, Mai, J, Xu, R, Perez, JET, Guevara, ML, Shen, Q, Mu, C, Tung, HY, Corry, DB, Evans, SE, Liu, X, Ferrari, M, Zhang, Z, Li, XC, Wang, RF & Shen, H 2015, Cell Reports, vol 11, no. 6, pp. 957-966. DOI:

Reversible ubiquitination shapes NLRC5 function and modulates NF-?B activation switch
Meng, Q, Cai, C, Sun, T, Wang, Q, Xie, W, Wang, R & Cui, J 2015, Journal of Cell Biology, vol 211, no. 5, pp. 1025-1040. DOI:

Genome-wide analysis of host-plasmodium yoelii interactions reveals regulators of the type i interferon response
Wu, J, Cai, B, Sun, W, Huang, R, Liu, X, Lin, M, Pattaradilokrat, S, Martin, S, Qi, Y, Nair, SC, Bolland, S, Cohen, JI, Austin, CP, Long, CA, Myers, TG, Wang, RF & Su, XZ 2015, Cell Reports, vol 12, no. 4, pp. 661-672. DOI:

Current advances in T-cell-based cancer immunotherapy
Wang, M, Yin, B, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Immunotherapy, vol 6, no. 12, pp. 1265-1278. DOI:

Mechanisms and pathways of innate immune activation and regulation in health and cancer
Cui, J, Chen, Y, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, vol 10, no. 11, pp. 3270-3285. DOI:

Applications of nanomaterials as vaccine adjuvants
Zhu, M, Wang, R & Nie, G 2014, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, vol 10, no. 9, A45, pp. 2761-2774. DOI:

Strain-specific innate immune signaling pathways determine malaria parasitemia dynamics and host mortality
Wu, J, Tian, L, Yu, X, Pattaradilokrat, S, Li, J, Wang, M, Yu, W, Qi, Y, Zeituni, AE, Nair, SC, Crampton, SP, Orandle, MS, Bolland, SM, Qi, CF, Long, CA, Myers, TG, Coligan, JE, Wang, R & Su, XZ 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 111, no. 4. DOI:

An epigenetic switch induced by Shh signalling regulates gene activation during development and medulloblastoma growth
Shi, X, Zhang, Z, Zhan, X, Cao, M, Satoh, T, Akira, S, Shpargel, K, Magnuson, T, Li, Q, Wang, R, Wang, C, Ge, K & Wu, J 2014, Nature Communications, vol 5, 6425. DOI:

Critical role of histone demethylase Jmjd3 in the regulation of CD4 + T-cell differentiation
Li, Q, Zou, J, Wang, M, Ding, X, Chepelev, I, Zhou, X, Zhao, W, Wei, G, Cui, J, Zhao, K, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Nature Communications, vol 5, 5780. DOI:

The future potential for cocaine vaccines
Orson, FM, Wang, R, Brimijoin, S, Kinsey, BM, Singh, RAK, Ramakrishnan, M, Wang, HY & Kosten, TR 2014, Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, vol 14, no. 9, pp. 1271-1283. DOI:

USP3 inhibits type i interferon signaling by deubiquitinating RIG-I-like receptors
Cui, J, Song, Y, Li, Y, Zhu, Q, Tan, P, Qin, Y, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Cell Research, vol 24, no. 4, pp. 400-416. DOI:

HLA-restricted NY-ESO-1 peptide immunotherapy for metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer
Sonpavde, G, Wang, M, Peterson, LE, Wang, HY, Joe, T, Mims, MP, Kadmon, D, Ittmann, MM, Wheeler, TM, Gee, AP, Wang, RF & Hayes, TG 2014, Investigational New Drugs, vol 32, no. 2, pp. 235-242. DOI:

Stage-Dependent and Locus-Specific Role of Histone Demethylase Jumonji D3 (JMJD3) in the Embryonic Stages of Lung Development
Li, Q, Wang, HY, Chepelev, I, Zhu, Q, Wei, G, Zhao, K & Wang, RF 2014, PLoS Genetics, vol 10, no. 7, e1004524. DOI: