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Kristian M. Hargadon, PhD ‘07

Kristian M. Hargadon, PhD ‘07

September 1, 2023 – The UVA Medical Alumni Association is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 Early Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences: Kristian M. Hargadon, PhD ‘07.

Hargadon earned his Doctorate in Microbiology at the University of Virginia after completing graduate studies in the laboratory of Victor H. Engelhard, PhD. There, he investigated the induction of CD8+ T cell responses to cancer, highlighting the incomplete differentiation of tumor-specific T lymphocytes as a novel form of anti-tumor immune dysfunction. His work represented some of the earliest to demonstrate the uncoupling of T cell proliferation from the acquisition of effector function, yielding critical insight into factors that limit the induction of robust anti-tumor immune responses. After completing his graduate work, Hargadon remained at UVA for a postdoctoral fellowship, joining the laboratory of Thomas J. Braciale, MD, PhD, to study influenza virus/dendritic cell interactions. His work identified the I-E MHC class II molecule as a novel co-receptor for H2 hemagglutinin-expressing influenza virus strains capable of infecting specific respiratory dendritic cell subsets.

In 2009, Hargadon accepted an assistant professor position in the Biology Department of his alma mater, Hampden-Sydney College, where he has since earned tenure and risen to the rank of professor. As Trinkle Professor of Biology, Hargadon chairs the Health Sciences Advisory Committee and teaches undergraduate courses in immunology, virology, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, and the biology of cancer. He has also established an extramurally-funded research program in tumor immunology and cancer genetics. Of note, Hargadon’s work has revealed novel functions for tumor-derived VEGF-A and TGFβ1 in the regulation of fully differentiated, tissue-resident dendritic cells. His group was also the first to document a role for the epithelial-mesenchymal transition regulator FOXC2 in melanoma progression, highlighting novel oncogenic functions for this protein in a cancer of non-epithelial origin. He has published numerous articles in leading academic journals, including Cancer Genetics, Clinical and Translational Medicine, and Frontiers in Immunology, and is the editor of the recently published “Melanoma – Methods and Protocols” volume for the acclaimed Methods in Molecular Biology series.

Through his first 14 years as a faculty member, Hargadon has mentored 33 undergraduate students, resulting in 55 student conference presentations at state, regional, and national research conferences as well 30 undergraduate co-authorships on peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He has received numerous awards for his work with students, including the J. Shelton Horsley Research Award. Moreover, in an effort to extend research opportunities to a broader student population outside of his lab, Hargadon has developed a number of course-based undergraduate research experiences, two of which have led to publications in the Journal of Cancer Education for which Dr. Hargadon has been recognized with the R. Davilene Carter Presidential Prize for Best Manuscripts.

Congratulations to Dr. Hargadon on this well-deserved recognition.