Ronald E. Gress, M.D.

Ronald E. Gress, M.D.
Senior Investigator
Head, Transplantation Immunology Section

Dr. Ronald Gress pursues investigation in basic, translational and clinical transplant immunology. His studies focus on T cell reconstitution in humans who have had depletion of T cell populations by chemotherapy. With collaborators, Dr. Gress introduced IL-7 into clinical trials. These studies allowed identification of T cell receptor repertoire repair by IL-7 – the basis of new strategies to repair repertoire defects and immune deficiency commonly associated with aging. As Chief of the Experimental Transplantation and Immunotherapy Branch, he oversees efforts to cure cancers through translational transplant therapies.

Areas of Expertise

1) T cells, 2) immunology, 3) immune reconstitution, 4) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, 5) marrow transplant

Contact Info

Ronald E. Gress, M.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 10 - Hatfield CRC, Room 3-3332
Bethesda, MD 20892-1203
Ph: 240-858-3030
Fax: 240-541-4566

Transplantation Therapy

The primary goals of the Transplantation Therapy Section are to generate new understandings in transplantation biology and to develop new transplantation therapies based on those basic science investigations. The section concentrates on efforts in four complementary areas:

  • In the area of cellular hematopoiesis, investigations are carried out to characterize negative regulation; the clinical aim is to generate strategies for establishing effective hematopoiesis of progenitor cells manipulated in vivo or in vitro (including purging). These studies have delineated the regulatory role of IGF-II in CD34+ cell proliferation and have begun to characterize the role of chemokines as negative regulators of hematopoiesis.
  • In the area of T cell regeneration, the goal of our studies is to characterize mechanisms of T cell reconstitution; clinically, the aim is to maximize T cell regeneration for therapeutic gain. We have found that efficient T cell regeneration is dependent on thymic activity, which varies inversely with age so that compromise exists even in young adults. In older adults, expansion of postthymic T cells accounts for the majority of CD4+ T cell reconstitution, but such T cell populations then tend to diminish with time. This latter observation has prompted our work to identify mechanisms by which expanded T cell populations are lost.
  • Currently, we are studying the role of the SPATIAL gene in thymus function using mouse knockout model systems combined with cellular and molecular techniques. SPATIAL is specifically expressed in thymic subcapsular cells and our data suggests it negatively regulates thymic input of precursor cells. Our studies are focused on the following: regulation of SPATIAL function, the impact of SPATIAL on cell cycle control mechanisms, regulation of ubiquitination, stem cell migration into the thymus, intrathymic precursor cell proliferation, post bone marrow transplant T cell reconstitution, and differential gene expression in stromal cells. We plan to build on these experiments to develop new drugs to enhance thymus function and T cell reconstitution to improve human health following a period of immune deficiency.
  • Current and planned clinical studies follow themes developed within the preceding projects with emphasis on the augmentation of T cell regeneration/responses. Current clinical studies focus on treatment of residual disease in patients with breast cancer and exploit the understanding that post-chemotherapy T cell regeneration in adults involves primarily extrathymic expansion, requires mature T cell progenitors, is antigen driven, is prone to skewing, and is cytokine regulated. Such studies also seek to characterize further the regeneration of T cells (especially CD8+ cells) in patients with cancer.
NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Clinical Research, Immunology, Stem Cell Biology
View Dr. Gress' PubMed Summary.

Selected Key Publications

  1. Brudno JN, Lam N, Vanasse D, Shen YW, Rose JJ, Rossi J, Xue A, Bot A, Scholler N, Mikkilineni L, Roschewski M, Dean R, Cachau R, Youkharibache P, Patel R, Hansen B, Stroncek DF, Rosenberg SA, Gress RE, Kochenderfer JN.
    Nat Med. 26(2): 270-80, 2020. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Stratton P, Battiwalla M, Tian X, Abdelazim S, Baird K, Barrett AJ, Cantilena CR, Childs RW, DeJesus J, Fitzhugh C, Fowler D, Gea-Banacloche J, Gress RE, Hickstein D, Hsieh M, Ito S, Kemp TJ, Khachikyan I, Merideth MA, Pavletic SZ, Quint W, Schiffman M, Scrivani C, Shanis D, Shenoy AG, Struijk L, Tisdale JF, Wagner S, Williams KM, Yu Q, Wood LV, Pinto LA.
    JAMA Oncol. e196722, 2020. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Wachsmuth LP, Patterson MT, Eckhaus MA, Venzon DJ, Gress RE, Kanakry CG.
    J. Clin. Invest. 129(6): 2357-73, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Williams KM, Holter-Chakrabarty J, Lindenberg L, Duong Q, Vesely SK, Nguyen CT, Havlicek JP, Kurdziel K, Gea-Banacloche J, Lin FI, Avila DN, Selby G, Kanakry CG, Li S, Scordino T, Adler S, Bollard CM, Choyke P, Gress RE.
    Lancet Haematol.. 5(1): e44-e52, 2018. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Ali SA, Shi V, Maric I, Wang M, Stroncek DF, Rose JJ, Brudno JN, Stetler-Stevenson M, Feldman SA, Hansen BG, Fellowes VS, Hakim FT, Gress RE, Kochenderfer JN.
    Blood. 128(13): 1688-1700, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Gress received his M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine and his internal medicine residency and oncology fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the NCI. His research interests have been in the area of transplantation immunology with emphasis on the regulation of allogeneic responses and the mechanisms by which peripheral lymphocyte populations are generated and maintained. Dr. Gress is also chief of the Medical Oncology Clinical Research Unit and head of the Transplantation Immunology Section, Experimental Immunology Branch.

Name Position
Catherine V. Bare Technical Laboratory Manager
Roger DePaz Animal Biologist (Contr.)
Donald E. Farthing Ph.D. Biochemist (Contr.)
Francis A. Flomerfelt, Ph.D. Staff Scientist
Deane Francia Program Specialist (Contr.)
Betty Garcia Program Specialist
Hye Kyung Kim Ph.D. Research Fellow
Terri Larus B.A. Biologist (Contr.)
Ruifeng Teng Ph.D. Scientist (Contr.)
Ping Xue M.S. Biologist (Contr.)