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Jennifer Wu

Parker Scholar


Jennifer Wu is a PhD candidate in the Immunology Graduate Group at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Wu’s overarching research interests focus on understanding mechanisms of immune dysfunction in cancer and chronic disease and translating this knowledge into therapies that reverse this dysfunction.

As an undergraduate at UCLA, Wu conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Rita Effros to study replicative senescence, a form of immune dysfunction associated with aging. Following graduation, she worked under the mentorship of Dr. Shane Crotty at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology to interrogate the biology of T follicular helper cells and their role in promoting long-term antibody responses to vaccines. 

Currently, as a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. E. John Wherry, Wu’s work focuses on CD8 T-cell exhaustion, a form of dysfunction that arises due to persistent stimulation of the immune system during cancer and chronic infection. She have developed an in vitro model of exhaustion that recreates phenotypic, functional, transcriptional, and epigenetic features of exhausted CD8 T-cells. Wu plans to apply this model to uncovering and exploring novel transcriptional networks underlying the biology of exhaustion and cell fate commitment. Additionally, she plans to use this model in high-throughput screening to identify novel therapeutic mechanisms that target T-cell exhaustion. As a Parker Scholar, she hopes her work will allow both the lab and the cancer immunotherapy field in general to advance the basic science of exhaustion and facilitate the development of new therapies to combat cancer.

Education & Training

  • 2010: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles; CA, BS, Biology
  • 2010: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles; CA, BA, English
  • Present: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Ph.D., Immunology

Awards & Honors

  • 2016-2019: University of Pennsylvania Institutional NIH T32 Research Fellowship, Rheumatology
  • 2016: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention
  • 2010: Departmental Honors in Biology from UCLA
  • 2007: UCLA Honors Programs Doris H. and Milton J. Chasin Endowed Scholarship
  • 2006-2010: UCLA Regents’ Scholar