Jon Weidanz

Jon Weidanz, MPH, PhD

Founding Director
North Texas Genome Center
University of Texas at Arlington

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Jon Weidanz, MPH, Ph.D. is an Associate Vice President for Research and Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Director of Biotechnology and Systems Biology in the Multi-Interprofessional Center for Health Informatics at the University of Texas Arlington. Dr. Weidanz has broad experience and interest in biotechnology with particular knowledge and expertise in immunology, immuno-engineering, immunotherapy research and product development. His research has been funded by various agencies including the NIH, over many years to identify tumor-specific peptides presented by the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system for use as potential targets for immunotherapy. As part of this focus, his laboratory developed methods to discover antibodies that recognize specific peptide/HLA complexes that his laboratory has dubbed as T-cell receptor mimicking (TCRm) antibodies. TCRm molecules share the binding selectivity traits of T-cell receptors while retaining the positive attributes of antibodies. TCRms are highly valued as research tools and his group has used them extensively to study antigen presentation in healthy and diseased cells including tumors. Furthermore, his laboratory has been active in research and development of other immunotherapeutic agents including soluble T-cell receptors, and multifunctional/multispecific protein-based molecules. His earlier interests led to the laboratory’s most recent exciting project, the discovery of a TCRm, EXX-1, to Qa-1b/Qdm peptide complex, the ligand for NKG2A/CD94 inhibitory receptor. The NKG2A axis is an immune checkpoint that suppresses the cytolytic function of Natural Killer cells and CD8+ T-cells in the tumor microenvironment. His laboratory has shown that EXX-1 TCRm can enhance anti-tumor immunity in mice. Translation of these recent basic research findings to immunotherapies for treating human cancers is being pursued by his former company, Abexxa Biologics that was acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim ( Additionally, Dr. Weidanz is a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator with more than 25 years of relevant corporate biotechnology accomplishments that include co-founding four biotech companies. Recently, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors for his outstanding contributions as an innovator and for his efforts to commercialize university technologies.