B.Sc., Biochemistry, University of Victoria, 1981
D.Phil., Molecular Immunology and Pathology, University of Oxford, 1985
PDF, Institut Suisse de Recherches Expérimentales sur le Cancer, EPFL, Lausanne 1987
PDF, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Karolinska Institute 1989
Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors
Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Head, Immuno-Oncology Core, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Professor, The Michael Smith Laboratories, The Centre for Blood Research, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, The Departments of Medical Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology, University of British Columbia
Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
Dr. Wilfred A. Jefferies earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford for studies on glycoproteins expressed on activated lymphocytes. His discoveries include identifying the OX40 (CD134) co-stimulatory immune checkpoint molecule expressed on activated CD4 cells. He defined transferrin receptors (OX26/CD71) in the Blood-Brain Barrier and characterized diseases of the central nervous system in which hypervascularity occurs. From these observations, Dr. Jefferies created the p97/melanotransferrin “Trojan Horse” for delivering therapeutics to the brain for the treatment of brain tumours. Further work includes elucidating immune subversion mechanisms in viruses and tumours, along with methods to overcome these conditions, and characterizing the epigenetic regulation of antigen processing in cancer cells. Dr. Jefferies’ research group recently discovered the CD74-dependent Major Histocompatibility Complex-I (MHC-I or HLA) and the MHC-I recycling intracellular pathways underpinning cross-presentation in dendritic cells, both of which are critical for priming MHC-I restricted immune responses against viruses and tumours. Finally, his group has recently identified two important classes of calcium channels that function to limit inappropriate immune responses, leading to pathology in autoimmune disease and possibly cancer.
Dr. Jefferies’ current research program at the Vancouver Prostate Centre focuses on discovering and translating new therapies for disease. His current interests are in tumour immunology and cancer immunotherapy; antigen presentation and vaccines; and blood-brain barrier and angiogenesis. His work on cancer targets the restoration of the immune system’s ability to recognize tumours that have lost functional antigen processing machinery components, which may render selected tumours “invisible” to adaptive immune responses. His team is also utilizing novel screening systems to identify genes, proteins and small molecules that are able to restore and enhance immune recognition and killing of cancer cells. Notably, with other Vancouver Prostate Centre colleagues, Dr. Jefferies is leading an initiative to examine the use of IL-33 as an immune-biomarker for metastatic prostate tumours and a prognosticator for recurrence of prostate cancer in patients.
Dr. Jefferies has recently received funding for a project aimed at creating high-performance vaccines for COVID-19 virus. This project will test and deliver a candidate COVID-19 vaccine and other clinical tools to address current societal needs. If these vaccines are successful, they will be produced safely and efficiently and then mass distributed, at a reasonable cost, and with acceptable shelf-life.
Dr. Jefferies has more than 100 publications, holds 60 patents, and has supervised 42 graduate students, 17 postdoctoral fellows and over 100 undergraduate research projects. His research discoveries have created the intellectual foundation for four University spin-out companies, representing a critical avenue for knowledge translation resulting in hundreds of full-time high technology positions. Overall, Dr. Jefferies’ research continues to contribute to understanding how immune responses are initiated and expanded, how tumours and infectious pathogens subvert these processes, and how autoimmunity results from dysregulation of the immune response.
Updated March 27, 2020