E. John Wherry

faculty photo
Associate Professor of Microbiology
Department: Microbiology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
421 Curie Blvd
BRB II/III Room 353
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-8141
BS (Science)
Pennsylvania State University, 1994.
PhD (Immunology)
Thomas Jefferson University, 2000.
Permanent link
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Memory CD8 T cell differentiation during acute and chronic infections.

Key words: Immunological memory, T cell memory, Chronic infection, T cell dysfunction, Memory T cell differentiation.

Research Summary

A major goal of the research in Dr. Wherry's laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of suboptimal CD8 T cell responses during chronic infections. Our previous work studying CD8 T cell responses during chronic viral infections has demonstrated that virus-specific CD8 T cells often lose effector functions and fail to acquire key memory T cell properties such as homeostatic proliferation (i.e. become exhausted). Using a variety of approaches including global gene expression profiling we are defining cellular pathways involved in this T cell exhaustion and normal memory T cell differentiation. Some of areas of considerable current interest for the lab include inhibitory receptors (e.g. PD-1, LAG-3), transcription factors and inflammatory pathways. T cell exhaustion is a common feature during many chronic infections and we are studying both viral and parasitic infections in mice and also will begin to extend our investigations to people infected with hepatitis C virus. In addition, we are examining how co-infection with two pathogens can impact T cell memory. Finally, in other studies in the lab we are investigating the mechanisms of T cell mediated protective immunity to influenza virus and how T cell memory changes with age.

Rotation Projects
1) Regulatory mechanisms during chronic viral infections
2) Role of inflammatory environment versus antigen in T cell exhaustion
3) Transcriptional regulation of T cell differentiation
4) Age-related changes in T cell responses
5) Molecular program of memory T cell self-renewal

Lab personnel
Mohammed Ali- Technician

Jill Angelosanto- Graduate Student
Burt Barnett-Graduate Student
Douglas Dolfi- Postdoctoral Fellow
Jonathan Johnnidis- Graduate Student
Andy Johnson - Postdoctoral Fellow
Kate Mansfield - Technician/Lab Manager
Michael Paley - Graduate Student
Erietta Stelekati - Postdoctoral Fellow
Vesselin Tomov – GI Fellow


Multiple postdoctoral positions are available at the Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania and University of Maryland as part of a highly collaborative program on “Shaping antiviral immunity by the inflammatory, regulatory and tissue environment”. Laboratories on the Penn campus involved in these studies with positions available include those of Drs. Andrew Caton, Jan Erikson, Hao Shen, and John Wherry. Investigations in this group include: 1) the study of how Tregs impact immunity to influenza virus including how the specificity of the Treg TCR for viral or self-peptide regulates this activity (Caton), 2) investigating the regulation and maintenance of influenza virus specific B cells and plasma cells in the respiratory tract including the role of CD4 T cells in this process (Erikson), 3) testing how bacterial co-infection impacts immunity to influenza virus (Shen), and 4) determining how chronic co-infection impacts memory T cell differentiation (Wherry). In addition, a position is available in Donna Farber’s laboratory at the University of Maryland studying the role of memory CD4 T cells in immunity versus immunopathology in the lung during viral infection. Extensive collaborations exist between the laboratories and the ideal candidates will be able to work within and help foster a highly interacted group of laboratories.

Information on the Program can be found at: http://web.mac.com/jwherry

Information on the laboratories involved in this program can be viewed at:


Applicants should submit a curriculum vita, indicate their laboratory of interest from those listed above, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to:

Ms. Naja Yates
Administrative Coordinator
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Last updated: 11/29/2013
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