John R. Wingard, M.D.

Professor of Medicine

College of Medicine

2016 Awardee

John Wingard is the director of UF’s Bone Marrow Transplant program, and his research aims to characterize bone marrow transplant complications in an effort to improve the outcomes for patients.

“While bone marrow transplant can cure patients with various blood cancers, it can also cause serious harm to the patients,” Wingard said. “There is an important need to make it safer. Also, many of the patients who need transplants are older, and older individuals are less able to tolerate the rigorous therapy needed.”

Wingard was the principal investigator of the largest multicenter study of bone marrow transplant survivors ever conducted. He was also the PI of the largest study on the psychosocial adjustment and quality of life of bone marrow transplant survivors and their spouses. Through his research, Wingard characterized multiple complications of bone marrow transplants for the first time.

“No large study had been done before,” Wingard said about this research. “This study allowed us for the first time to determine the variability across transplant centers, by different types of transplant and different treatments for different types of cancers.”

Wingard also studies complications from infectious diseases. He reported an outbreak of Candida tropicalis, describing the infection as a major human pathogen. Wingard’s lab developed a novel mouse model that led to insights into the development of other types of candida infections in patients with cancer.

Wingard demonstrated that the gut is the portal of entry for most candida infections in leukemia patients. His insights also led to the current understanding that antifungal drugs can lead to the emergence of certain types of candida infections — a discovery that is now recognized as a widespread problem.

“I was the first to show that antifungal drugs could lead to outbreaks of drug-resistant fungal infections,” Wingard said.