Established in 2017, the Center for Gene and Cellular Immunotherapy is housed within the Section of Bone Marrow Transplant & Leukemia in Washington University School of Medicine’s Division of Oncology. The Center offers some of the most advanced immunotherapies available to patients. It also is home to a large basic, translational and clinical research hub focused on the identification of novel therapeutics.

CGCI translational research efforts have resulted in the development of personalized cancer vaccines as well as targeted cancer immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy and Natural Killer (NK) cell therapy. Investigations here were instrumental in:

  • Development of the first CRISPR gene edited and fratricide resistant off-the-shelf CAR T for the treatment of T cell malignancies
  • Leading the world in developing and testing bi-specifics for the treatment of AML
  • Creating a world-class translational NK cell therapeutics program that has advanced memory NK cells and IL-15-based drugs from the laboratory into multiple early-phase clinical trials
  • Clinical trials and FDA approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel for adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Clinical trials and FDA approval of blinatumomab for adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • FDA approval of the first drug — ruxolitinib — for the treatment of acute Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD)
  • FDA approval of rapid stem cell mobilizing agents for stem cell transplantation
  • Founding of two companies focused on stem cell transplantation (Magenta Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA) and gene-edited CAR T (WUGEN, St. Louis, MO)

CGCI Historical Developments


First bone marrow transplant


First unrelated bone marrow transplant


Memory-like NK cells discovered at Washington University School of Medicine


First HSV-TK suicide gene-modified donor lymphocyte infusion

5000th stem cell transplant


Development of human memory-like NK cells for the treatment of leukemia


First leukemia patient treated with NK cellular therapy


First leukemia patient treated with WU-developed memory-like NK cellular therapy


First patient treated with CAR-T cell therapy


First CRISPR gene-edited and fratricide-resistant, off-the-shelf CART-T developed for the treatment of T cell malignancies


New Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Inpatient Unit debuts in new Parkview Tower at Barnes-Jewish Hospital


PRC Five Star Excellence Award Top 10% Overall Quality of Care for Bone Marrow Transplant


First CAR-T manufactured onsite at Washington University School of Medicine

First memory-like NK cells engineered with CAR developed at Washington University School of Medicine

Identification of NKG2A as major “checkpoint” on memory-like NK cells

Collaborative Centers at Washington University School of Medicine

CGCI exists within a broad framework at Washington University School of Medicine that is dedicated to understanding and treating cancer through the development of immunological approaches. As such, it is affiliated with the following university centers:


The Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs (CHiiPs) is an interdisciplinary research core established in 2013 to escalate basic research findings in the field of human immunology into the development of novel therapies for various diseases, including cancer. The center has its roots in research conducted more than 20 years ago, when Washington University researchers published groundbreaking research about the body’s adaptive immune system, which prompted a new field called immunotherapy to fight cancer. CHiiPs broadens the range of cancer immunotherapies currently available and facilitates the development of new and potentially more effective immunotherapy combinations.

McDonnell Genome Institute

Scientists in Washington University’s McDonnell Genome Institute sequenced the first cancer genome — the complete DNA of a cancer patient — in 2008. The pioneering research enabled scientists to compare the patient’s cancer genome with normal cell genomes to see where personalized immunotherapy could generate a strong immune response against the cancer. Since that discovery, multiple efforts have been under way using advanced genome sequencing to help guide and create innovative vaccines and cellular therapies to treat cancer.

Siteman Cancer Center

The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center with an “Exceptional” rating from the National Cancer Institute. More than 50,000 people annually seek care at Siteman. Scientists and physicians affiliated with the institution are the recipients of more than $145 million annually in cancer research grants. Among them are basic, translational and clinical researchers within the CGCI who are internationally renowned for their work in translating promising immunotherapies into current patient treatment options for patients.