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Steven M. Varga, PhD
Steven M. Varga, PhD

Steven M. Varga, PhD

Member, St. Jude Faculty

  • Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences



  • PhD (Immunology) - UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA
  • BS (Biology) - University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Research Interests

  • Immunopathogenesis of Respiratory Viruses
  • Innate and Adaptive Immunity to Respiratory Syncytial Virus
  • Vaccine Development
  • Pathogensis of Viral Co-Infections
  • Cancer Immunotherapy

Selected Publications

Full list of publications

Miller AM, Varga SM. Fusing safety and efficacy: A maternal bivalent RSV prefusion F vaccine. Cell Rep Med Jun 6;4(6):101081, 2023.

Walstein KA, Ganama M, Varga SM, Hua X. Topical adenosine inhibits inflammation and mucus production in viral acute rhinosinusitis. Laryngoscope Dec 28, 2022. Online ahead of print.

Stephens LM, Ross KA, McLellan JS, Narasimhan B, Varga SM. Long-lasting protection induced by a polyanhydride nanovaccine against respiratory syncytial virus in an outbred mouse model. J Virol 96:e0150222, 2022.

Lamichhane P, Schmidt ME, Terhuja M, Varga SM, Snider TA, Rostad CA, Oomens AGP. A live-single-cycle RSV vaccine expressing prefusion F protein. Virology 577:51-64, 2022.

Waldstein KA, Yi J, Cho M, Mudumbai R, Wu X, Varga SM, Xu W. Use of compressed sensing to expedite high-throughput diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and beyond. PLoS Comp Biol 18:e1010629, 2022.

Crooks SD, Varga SM, Harty JT. Influenza-induced CD103+ T resident memory cells exhibit enhanced functional avidity over CD103- memory T cells in the mediastinal lymph node. Immunohorrizons 6:705-715, 2022.

Furqan M, Abu-Hejleh T, Stephens LS, Hartwig SM, Mott SL, Pulliam CF, Petronek M, Henrich JB, Fath MA, Houtman JC, Varga SM, Bodeker KL, Bossler AD, Bellizzi AM, Zhang J, Monga V, Mani H, Ivanovic M, Smith BJ, Byrne MM, Zeitler W, Wagner BA, Buettner GR, Cullen JJ, Buatti JM, Spitz DR, Allen BG. Pharmacological ascorbate improves the response to platinum-based chemotherapy in advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer. Redox Biol 53:102318, 2022.

Hartwig SM, Miller AM, Varga SM. Respiratory syncytial virus provides protection against a subsequent influenza A virus infection. J Immunol 208:720-731, 2022.

Monga V, Miller BJ, Tanas M, Boukhar S, Allen B, Anderson C, Stephens L, Hartwig S, Varga S, Houtman J, Wang L, Zhang W, Jaber O, Thomason J, Kuehn D, Rajput M, Metz C, Zamba KD, Mott S, Abanonu C, Bhatia S, Milhem M. Intratumoral talimogene laherparepvec injection with concurrent preoperative radiation in patients with locally advanced soft-tissue sarcoma of the trunk and extremities: phase IB/II trial. J Immunother Cancer 9:e003119, 2021.

Porter E, Amiel E, Bose N, Bottaro A, Carr WH, Swanson-Mungerson M, Varga SM, Jameson JM. American Association of Immunologists Recommendations for an Undergraduate Course in Immunology. Immunohorrizons 5:448-465, 2021.

Anthony SM, Van Braeckel-Budimir N, Moioffer SJ, van de Wall S, Shan Q, Vijay R, Sompallae R, Hartwig SM, Jensen IJ, Varga SM, Butler NS, Xue HH, Badovinac VP, Harty JT. Protective function and durability of mouse lymph node-resident memory T cells. eLife 10:e68662, 2021.

Stephens LM, Ross KA, Waldstein KA, Legge KL, McLellan JS, Narasimhan B, Varga SM. Prefusion F-based polyanhydride nanovaccine induced both humoral and cell-mediated immunity resulting in long-lasting protection against respiratory syncytial virus. J Immunol 206:1-16, 2021.

Luangrath MA, Schmidt ME, Hartwig SM, Varga SM. Tissue-resident memory T cells in the lungs protect against acute respiratory syncytial virus infection. Immunohorrizons 5:59-69, 2021.

Rogers KJ, Shtanko O, Stunz LL, Mallinger LN, Arkee T, Schmidt ME, Bohan D, Bruton B, White JM, Varga SM, Butler NS, Bishop GA, Maury W. Frontline Science: CD40 signaling restricts RNA virus replication in Mφs, leading to rapid innate immune control of acute virus infection. J Leukoc Biol 109:309-325, 2021.

Schmidt ME, Meyerholz DK, Varga SM. Pre-existing neutralizing antibodies prevent CD8 T cell-mediated immunopathology following respiratory syncytial virus infection. Mucosal Immunol 13:507-517, 2020.

Berkebile AR, Bartlett JA, Abou Alaiwa M, Varga SM, Power UF, McCray PB Jr. Airway surface liquid has innate antiviral activity that is reduced in cystic fibrosis. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 62:104-111, 2020.

Schmidt ME, Varga SM. Identification of novel respiratory syncytial virus CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes in C57BL/6 mice. Immunohorizons 3:1-12, 2019.

Schmidt ME, Oomens AGP, Varga SM. Vaccination with a single-cycle respiratory syncytial virus is immunogenic and protective in mice. J Immunol 202:3234-3245, 2019.

Van Braeckel-Budimir N, Varga SM, Badovinac VP, Harty JT. Repeated antigen exposure extends the durability of influenza-specific lung-resident memory CD8+ T cells and heterosubtypic immunity. Cell Rep 24:3374-3383.e3, 2018.

Schmidt ME, Knudson CJ, Hartwig SM, Pewe LL, Meyerholz DK, Langlois RA, Harty JT, Varga SM. Memory CD8 T cells mediate severe immunopathology following respiratory syncytial virus infection. PLoS Pathog 14:e1006810, 2018.

Christiaansen AF, Schmidt ME, Hartwig SM, Varga SM. Host genetics play a critical role in controlling CD8 T cell function and lethal immunopathology during chronic viral infection. PLoS Pathog 13:e1006498, 2017.

Alsuwaidi AR, George JA, Almarzooqi S, Hartwig SM, Varga SM, Souid AK. Sirolimus alters lung pathology and viral load following influenza A virus infection. Respir Res 18:136, 2017.

Christiaansen AF, Dixit UG, Coler RN, Marie Beckmann A, Reed SG, Winokur PL, Zimmerman MB, Varga SM, Wilson ME. CD11a and CD49d enhance the detection of antigen-specific T cells following human vaccination. Vaccine 35:4255-4261, 2017.

Shan Q, Zeng Z, Xing S, Hartwig SM, Gullicksrud JA, Kurup SP, Van Braeckel-Budimir N, Su Y, Martin MD, Varga SM, Taniuchi I, Harty JT, Peng W, Badovinac VP, Xue HH. The transcription factor Runx3 guards cytotoxic CD8+ effector T cells against deviation towards follicular helper T cell lineage. Nat Immunol 18:931-939, 2017.

Slutter B, Van Braeckel Budimir N, Abboud G, Varga SM, Salek-Ardakani S, Harty JT. Dynamics of influenza-induced lung resident memory T cells underlie waning heterosubtypic immunity. Sci Immunol 2:eaag2031, 2017.

Hartwig SM, Ketterer M, Apicella MA, Varga SM. Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae protects human airway epithelial cells from a subsequent respiratory syncytial virus challenge. Virology 498:128-135, 2016.

Christiaansen AF, Syed MA, Ten Eyck PP, Hartwig SM, Durairaj L, Kamath SS, Varga SM. Altered Treg and cytokine responses in RSV-infected infants. Pediatr Res 80:702-709, 2016.

Richer MJ, Pewe LL, Hancox LS, Hartwig SM, Varga SM, Harty JT. Inflammatory IL-15 is required for optimal memory T cell responses. J Clin Invest 125:3477-3490, 2015.

Knudson CJ, Hartwig SM, Meyerholz DK, Varga SM. RSV vaccine-enhanced disease is orchestrated by the combined actions of distinct memory CD4 T cell subsets. PLoS Pathog 11:e1004757, 2015.

Knudson CJ, Weiss KA, Hartwig SM, Varga SM. The pulmonary localization of virus-specific T lymphocytes is governed by the tissue tropism of infection. J Virol 88:9010-9016, 2014.

Alsuwaidi AR, Albawardi A, Almarzooqi S, Benedict S, Othman AR, Hartwig SM, Varga SM, Souid AK. Respiratory syncytial virus increases lung cellular bioenergetics in neonatal C57BL/6 mice. Virology 454-455:263-269, 2014.

Christiaansen AF, Boggiatto PM, Varga SM. Limitations of Foxp3+ Treg depletion following viral infection in DEREG mice. J Immunol Methods 406:58-65, 2014.

Hartwig SM, Holman KM, Varga SM. Depletion of alveolar macrophages ameliorates virus-induced disease following a pulmonary coronavirus infection. PLoS One 9:e90720, 2014.

McDermott DS, Varga SM. Determining the breadth of the respiratory syncytial virus-specific T cell response. J Virol 88:3135-3143, 2014.

Last update: July 2023