John E. Wagner, MD

Co-Leader, Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program; Co-Director Translational Therapy Shared Resource

Pediatric BMT
425 East River Rd
660 MCRB
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

John E. Wagner, M.D., is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. He is the Founding Director of the new Institute of Cell, Gene and Immunotherapeutics at the University of Minnesota. Co-Director of the Center for Translational Medicine, and holds two endowed chairs—Children's Cancer Research Fund/Hageboeck Family Chair in Childhood Cancer Research, and the University of Minnesota McKnight-Presidential Chair.

Dr. Wagner's research is focused on the development of novel cell therapies for treatment of life threatening diseases. Examples include the development of regulatory T cells that could be used in the treatment of autoimmunity, organ graft rejection as well as graft-versus-host disease, thymic progenitors to repair damaged immune systems, cardiac myoblasts to reverse heart failure, skeletal myoblasts to repair or replace dystrophic muscle fibers in muscular dystrophy, and expansion of the blood-forming stem cell to speed blood and marrow recovery after high doses of chemotherapy and radiation. Dr. Wagner is best known for his pioneering work on the use of placental/cord blood as a source of stem cells for transplantation – a procedure that has now been performed in more than 50,000 patients worldwide.

Awards & Recognition

  • Castle Connolly "Top Doctor"
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul Magazine “Top Doctor” (2010-2017, 2020)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, (2017)
  • Best Doctors in America (2006-2017)
  • Inaugural Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at the 125th Anniversary, University of Minnesota Medical School (2013)
  • Simon Gratz Research Prize, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2009) 
  • Minnesota Health Care Heroes Award-Category of Medical Innovation (2008)
  • Elected to Association of American Physicians (2006)
  • Testified before the United States Senate on the effectiveness of umbilical cord blood prior to passage of the Stem Cell Act of 2005 (2005)
  • 2nd Recipient of the Brady Kohn Foundation Award (2005)
  • Invited speaker on the Clinical Application of Stem Cells at the United Nations (2004)
  • 1st Recipient of the Brady Kohn Foundation Award (2003)
  • Pioneer Award for Therapeutic Advancement Fanconi Anemia Research Fund (2002)
  • Recognition of Excellence, Academic Health Center, University of Minnesota, (2002)
  • Tenth Clinical Scholar Award, University of Minnesota Medical School and Fairview-University Medical Center (2001)
  • Elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (2000)
  • Year in Hematology Session, The Clinical Research Meeting (1994)
  • Jundt Research Award (1993)
  • Plenary Symposium, American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunology (1993, 1995-1997, and 2009)
  • Presidential Symposium, International Society of Experimental Hematology, (1991)
  • Recipient, American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award (1990-1993)
  • Higgins Scholar in Oncology Research, Hodson Trust (1989-1991)
  • American Cancer Society Post-Doctoral Training Award (1984-1985)
  • Magna Cum Laude, Jefferson Medical College (1981)
  • Dean Marie Baines Award for Excellence in Pediatrics, Jefferson Medical College (1981)
  • Outstanding College Graduate (1981)
  • Cum Laude, University of Delaware (1977)
  • Leukemia Lymphoma Society Life Blood Award
  • Fanconi Anemia Research Fund Pioneer Award
  • Election into the American Society of Clinical Investigation and American Association of Physicians


Distinguished McKnight Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Faculty Member, Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT), Division of

BMT Specialist, Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Center

Co-Director, Center for Translational Medicine

Program Co-Leader, Transplant Biology and Therapy, Masonic Cancer Center (MCC)

Faculty, Masters Program in Stem Cell Biology


Pediatric Hematologist Oncologist

MD, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA

Residency in Pediatrics, Duke University, Durham, NC

Fellowship in Hematology/Oncology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

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Research Summary/Interests

Dr. Wagner's research has focused on the development of new treatment approaches for life-threatening diseases for which conventional treatments are unsatisfactory. Dr. Wagner is recognized for pioneering the use of double umbilical cord blood transplantation in adults and embryo selection to insure an HLA matched, healthy child (‘savior sibling’) for another child in need of transplant. He is also a leader in the use of regulatory T cells to prevent rejection and graft versus host disease, expanded blood forming stem cells to speed blood and marrow recovery, novel conditioning regimens to dramatically increase the chance of cure of patients with Fanconi anemia and bone marrow derived stem cells to repair the skin in severely affected children with Epidermolysis Bullosa.

  1. Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation in Children and Adults
    • Ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic stem cells
    • Double unit transplantation
    • Non-myeloablative preparative therapies
    • Co-infusion of T-regulatory cells
    • Graft vs. Leukemia Effector Therapies
  2. Fanconi anemia
    • Novel preparative therapies
    • Gene therapy - multipotent adult stem cell
    • Phenotype-genotype correlations (collaboration with Rockefeller University)
    • Pathophysiology
  3. Multipotent Adult Stem Cells (MAPC) in tissue repair
    • Translational development/large scale manufacture of MAPC
    • Evaluation of MAPC therapeutic potential in congenital and acquired disorders


He has authored 237 research papers and book chapters, and is a member of numerous professional societies.

To see a list of all publications please visit:

  • Preimplantation testing to produce an HLA matched donor infant. Wagner JE, Kahn JP, Wolf SM, Lipton FM. J Amer Med Assoc 2004; 292:803-4
  • Effect of graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis on 3-year disease free survival in recipients of unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation: results of a multi-center, randomized phase II-III trial. Wagner JE, Thompson JS, Carter SL, Kernan NA. Lancet 2005; 366:733-41.
  • Outcomes of transplantation of unrelated donor umbilical cord blood and bone marrow in children with acute leukemia: a comparison study. Eapen M, Rubinstein P, Zhang MJ, Stevens C, Kurtzberg J, Scaradavou A, Loberiza FR, Chaplin RE, Klein JP, Horowitz MM, Wagner JE. Lancet 2007; 369:1947-54.
  • Bone marrow transplantation for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Wagner JE, Ishida-Yamamoto A, McGrath JA, Hordinsky M, Keane DR, Woodley DT, Chen M, Riddle MJ, Osborn MJ, Lund T, Dolan M, Blazar BR, Tolar J. New Engl J Med 2010; 363:629-39. [Associated Editorial: Systemic therapy for a genetic skin disease. Bruckner-Tuderman L. New Engl J Med 2010; 363: 680-682.]
  • Infusion of ex vivo expanded T regulatory cells in adults transplanted with umbilical cord blood: safety profile and detection kinetics. Brunstein CG, Miller JS, Cao Q, McKenna DH, Hipen KL, Curtsinger J, Defor T, Levine BL, June CH, Rubenstein P, McGlave PB, Blazar BR, Wagner JE. Blood 2011; 117:1061-70.
  • Current clinical management of Fanconi anemia. Smith AR, Wagner JE. Expert Rev Hematol 2012; 5:513-22.
  • Transplantation of ex-vivo culture-expanded parental haploidentical mesenchymal stem cells to promote engraftment in pediatric recipients of unrelated donor umbilical cord blood: Results of a phase I-II clinical trial. MacMillan ML, Blazar BR, Defor TE, Wagner JE. Bone Marrow Transplant 2009; 43: 447-54.
  • Amelioration of epidermolysis bullosa by transfer of wild-type bone marrow cells. Tolar J, Ishida-Yamamoto A, Osborn M, McElmurry RT, Riddle M, Xia L, Uitto J, Christiano AM, Wagner JE, Blazar BR. Blood 2009; 113:1167-74.
  • Acute graft-verusu-host disease after unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation: Analysis of risk factors. MacMillan ML, Weisdorf DJ, Brunstein CG, Cao Q, Defor TE, Verneris MR, Blazar BR, Wagner JE. Blood 2009; 113: 2410-5. 
  • Analysis of risk factors for outcomes after unrelated cord blood transplantation in adults with lymphoid malignancies: A study by the eurocord-netcord and lymphoma working party of the european group for blood and marrow transplantation study. Rodrigues CA, Sanz G, Brunstein C, San J, Wagner JE, Renaud M, de Lima M, Cairo M, Furst S, Rio B, Dalley D, Carreras E, Harousseau J.l., Mohty M, Taveira D, Sureda A, Dreger P, Gluckman E, Rocha V. J Clin Oncol 2009; 27:256-63.
  • Allo-hematopoietic cell transplantation for ph chromosome-positive all: Impact of imatinib on relapse and survival. Burke MJ, Trotz B, Luo X, Baker KS, Weisdorf DJ, Wagner JE, Verneris MR. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2009; 43:107-13.
  • Promising progression-free survival for patients low and lntermediate grade lymphoid malignancies after nonmyeloablative umblical cord blood transplantation. Brunstein CG, Cantero S, Cao Q, Majhail N, McClure B, Burns LJ, Tomblyn M, Miller JS, Blazar BR, McGlave PB, Weisdorf DJ, Wagner JE. Biol Bone Marrow Transplant 2009; 15:214-22.
  •  Activated notch supports development of cytokine producing nk cells which are hyporesponsive and fail to acquire nk cell effector functions. Bachanova V, McCullar V, Lenvik T, Wagnen R, Peterson KA, Ankarlo DE, Panoskaltsis-Mortari A, Wagner JE, Miller JS. Biol Bone Marrow Transplant 2009; 15:183-194.
  • Intra-BM injection to enhance engraftment after myeloablative umbilical cord blood transplantation with two partially HLA-matched units. Brunstein CG, Barker JN, Weisdorf DJ, Defor TE, KcKenna D, Chong SY, Miller JS, McGlave PB, Wagner JE. Biol Bone Marrow Transplant. 2009; 43: 935-940
  • Myeloablative hematopoietic cell transplantation for acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Analysis of graft sources and long-term outcome. Tomblyn MB, Arora M, Baker KS, Blazar BR, Brunstein GC, Burns LJ, Defor TE, Dusenbery KE, Kaufman DS, Kersey JH, MacMillan ML, McGlave PB, Miller JS, Orchard PJ, Slungaard A, Tomblyn MR, Vercellotti GM, Verneris MR, Wagner JE, Weisdorf DJ. J Clin Oncol 2009; 27:3634-41.
  • Production assistance for cellular therapies (PACT): Four-year experience from the united states national heart, lung, and blood institute (NHLBI) contract research program in cell tissue therapies. Reed W, Noga SJ, Gee AP, Rooney CM, Wagner JE, McCullough J, McKenna DH, Whiteside TL, Donnenberg AD, Baker AK, Lindblad RW, Wagner EL, Mondoro TH. Transfusion 2009; 49:786-96.
  • Negative effect of KIR alloreactivity in recipients of umbilical cord blood transplant depends on transplantation conditioning intensity. Brunstein CG, Wagner JE, Weisdorf DJ, Cooley S, Noreen H, Barker JN, Defor T, Verneris MR, Blazar BR, Miller JS. Blood 2009; 113:5628-34.
  • Imatinib use either pre- or post-allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) does not increase cardiac toxicity in chronic myelogeneous leukemia patients. Burke MJ, Trotz B, Luo X, Weisdorf DJ, Baker KS, Wagner JE, Verneris MR. Bone Marrow Transplant 2009; 44:169-74.
  • Consistency of the initial cell acquisition procedure is critical to the standardization of CD34+ cell enumeration by flow cytometry: Results of a pairwise analysis of umbilical cord blood units and cryopreserved aliquots. Flores AL, McKenna DH, Montalban MA, De La Cruz J, Wagner JE, Bornstein R. Transfusion 2009; 49:636-647.
  • Rapid transport and infusion of hematopoietic cells is associated with improved outcome after myeloablative therapy and unrelated donor transplant. Lazarus HM, Kan F, Tarima S, Champlin RE, Confer DL, Frey N, Gee AP, Wagner JE, Horowitz MM, Eapen M. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2009; 15:589-96.
  • First phase insulin release and glucose tolerance in children with fanconi anemia after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Polgreen LE, Thomas W, MacMillan ML, Wagner JE, Moran A, Petryk A. Pediat Blood Cancer 2009; 53:191-6.
  • Mislabeled units of umbilical cord blood detected by a quality assurance program at the transplant center. McCullough J, McKenna D, Kadidlo D, Maurer D, Noreen HJ, French K, Brunstein C, Wagner JE. Blood 2009; 114:1684-8.
  • Stable gene transfer and sxpression in cord Blood-derived CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells by a hyperactive sleeping beauty transposon system. Xue X, Huang X, Nodland SE, Mates L, Ma L, Izsvak Z, Ivics Z, Lebien TW, McOIvor RS, Wagner JE, Zhou X. Blood 2009; 114:1319-30.
  • Relapse risk after umbilical cord blood transplantation; enhanced graft versus leukemia effect in recipients of two units. Verneris MR, Brunstein CG, Barker J, MacMillan ML, Defor T, McKenna DH, Burke MJ, Blazar BR, Miller JS, McGlave PB, Weisdorf DJ, Wagner JE. Blood 2009; 114:4293-4299.
  • Costs of pediatric allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Majhail NS, Mothukuri JM, MacMillan ML, Verneris MR, Orchard PJ, Wagner JE. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2009; 54:138-143.
  • Hematopoietic cell transplantation for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in second complete remission: similar outcomes in recipients of unrelated marrow and umbilical cord blood versus marrow from HLA matched sibling donors. Smith AR, Baker KS, Defor TE, Verneris MR, Wagner JE, MacMillan ML. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2009; 15:1086-93.
  • Alternative stem cell sources for transplantation: Place of umbilical cord blood. Smith A, Wagner JE. British J Hematol. 2009; 147:246-261.
  • Umbilical cord blood transplantation. Wagner JE, Brunstein C, Tse W, Laughlin M. Cancer Treat Res. 2009; 144:1-23.
  • Should double cord blood transplants be the preferred choice when a sibling donor is unavailable? Wagner JE. Best Pract Res Clin Heamatol. 2009; 22:551-5.
  • Monitoring and preemptive rituximab therapy for Epstein-Barr virus reactivation after antithymocyte globulin containing nonmyeloablative conditioning for umbilical cord blood transplantation. Blaes AH, Cao Q, Wagner JE, Young JA, Weisdorf DJ, Brunstein CG. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2010; 16:287-91.
  • Impact of cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation after umbilical cord blood transplantation. Beck JC, Wagner JE, DeFor, TE, Brunstein CG, Schleiss MR, Young J, Weisdorf DH, Cooley S, Miller JS, Verneris MR. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2010; 16: 215-22.
  • The effect of the composition of unrelated donor bone marrow and peripheral blood progenitor cell grafts on transplantation outcomes. Collins NH, Gee AP, Durett AG, Kan F, Zhang MJ, Champlin RE, Confer D, Eapen M, Howard A, King R, Laughlin MJ, Plante RJ, Setterholm M, Spellman S, Keever-Taylor C, Wagner JE, Weisdorf DJ. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2010; 16: 253-62.
  • Seventh annual international umbilical cord blood transplantation symposium, Los Angeles, California, June 5-6, 2009. Wagner JE, Laughlin M, Petz L. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2010; 16: 12-27.
    UCB and atmospheric noise. Verneris MR, Wagner JE. Blood 2010; 115: 754-5.
  • Transplant outcomes in acute leukemia. Eapen M, Wagner JE. Semin Hematol 2010; 47: 46-50. Umbilical cord blood transplantation: the first 20 years. Wagner JE, Gluckman E. Semin Hematol 2010; 47: 3-12.
    Umbilical cord blood: state of the art 2010. Wagner JE. Semin Hematol 2010; 47: 1-2.
  • Diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome among a cohert of 119 patients with Fanconi anemia morphologic and cytogenetic characteristics. Cioc AM, Wagner JE, MacMillan ML, DeFor T, Hirsch B. Am J Clin Pathol 2010; 133: 92-100.
  • 4-1BB and CD28 signaling plays a synergistic role in redirecting umbilical cord blood T cells against B-cell malignancies. Tammana S, Huang S, Wong M, Milone MC, Ma L, Levine BL, June CH, Wagner JE, Blazar BR, Zhou X. Hum Gene Ther 2010; 21: 75-86.
  • Costs of pediatric Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Majhail NS, Mothukuri JM, MacMillan ML, Verneris MR, Orchard PJ, Wagner JE, Weisdorf DJ. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010; 54: 138-43.
  • Pre-transplant risk factors affecting outcome in Hurler syndrome. Orchard PJ, Milla C, Braunlin E, Defor T, Bjoraker K, Blazar BR, Peters C, Wagner JE, Tolar J. Bone Marrow Transplant 2010. Epub ahead of print.
  • Comparison of immune recoverery in recipients of unmanipulated vs T-cell depleted grafts from unrelated donors in a multi-center, randomized phase II-III trial (T-cell depletion trial). Keever-Taylor CA, Wagner JE, Kernan NA, Small TN, Carter SL, Thompson JS, Cloud GA, Lamb LS. Bone Marrow Transplant 2010; 45: 587-9.
  • Reduced intensity conditioning regimens for allogeneic transplantation in children with acute hymphoblastic leukemia. Verneris MR, Eapen M, Duerst R, Carpenter PA, Burke MJ, Afanasyev BV, Cowan MJ, He W, Krance R, Li CK, Tan PL, Wagner JE, Davies SM. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2010. Epub ahead of print.
  • High fludarabine exposure and relationship with treatment-related mortality after nonmyeloablative hematopoietic cell transplantation. Long-Boyle JR, Green KG, Brunstein CG, Cao Q, Rogosheske J, Weisdorf DJ, Miller JS, Wagner JE, McGlave PB, Jocobson PA. Bone Marrow Transplant 2010. Epub ahead of print.
  • Going straight to the point : intra-BM injection of hematopoietic progenitors. Ramirez PA, Wagner JE, Brunstein CG. Bone Marrow Transplant 2010. Epub ahead of print.
  • Haematopoietic cell transplantation for Fanconi anemia -- when and how? MacMillan ML, Wagner JE. Br J Haematol 2010. Epub ahead of print.
  • Effect of graft source on unrelated donor heamatopoietic stem-cell transplantation in adults with acute leukemia: a retrospective analysis. Eapen M, , Rocha V, Guillermo S, Andromachi S, Zhang MJ, Arcese W, Sirvent A, Champlin RE, Chao N, Gee AP, Isola L, Laughling MJ, Marks DI, Nabhan S, Ruggeri A, Soiffer R, Horowitz MM, Gluckman E, Wagner JE. Lancet Onc 2010; 11: 653-60.


Board Certifications

  • American Board of Pediatrics
  • American Board of Pediatrics - Pediatric Hematology/Oncology