University of Wisconsin–Madison

William J Burlingham, PhD


  • Division of Transplantation
(608) 263-0388

600 Highland Ave
MC 7375
Madison, WI 53792-3284


  • PhD, Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, 1979
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, National Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School, Rochester, MN, 1980-1983

Research Interests

Dr. Burlingham has developed a highly respected transplant basic research program that focuses on acquired immunologic tolerance. His laboratory hopes to gain insight into graft acceptance by studying transplant recipients who have survived after stopping immunosuppressive drugs.

Specifically, his research focuses on the natural exchange of soluble antigens and low numbers of white blood cells that occurs between mother and child during pregnancy and nursing. The lab’s working hypothesis is that this exchange, which leads to persistence of bone marrow-derived maternal blood cells within the offspring (“microchimerism”) may induce a “natural” form of tolerance. This tolerance, if harnessed, may allow for drug-free acceptance of transplanted grafts. Such natural tolerance has recently been shown to be the result, not of having microchimerism per se, but having a specific type of rare maternal cells capable of producing exosomes– tiny virus-like vesicles composed of lipid, protein, and nucleic acids. The goal is now to investigate how these intercellular messengers modify the host antigen presenting cells, and T cells during tolerance, with a view toward therapeutic applications.

The other major focus of Dr. Burlingham’s lab is the phenomenon of autoimmunity that develops after lung transplantation. A novel type of T Cells, called Th-17, react to collagen type V and cause inflammation and over-production of collagens causing airway blockage and graft loss. His lab is working on ways to inhibit this process by new forms of immune suppressive drugs and by increasing T regulatory cells that normally prevent autoimmune disease.

View Dr. Burlingham’s Google Scholar Citations Profile.

Dr. Burlingham’s Lab

Recent Publications

    • Role of exosomes in tumour and transplant immune regulation.
    • Lema DA, Burlingham WJ
    • Scand. J. Immunol. 2019 Nov; 90(5): e12807
    • [PubMed ID: 31282004]
    • Epigenetic Priming of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiac Progenitor Cells Accelerates Cardiomyocyte Maturation.
    • Biermann M, Cai W, Lang D, Hermsen J, Profio L, Zhou Y, Czirok A, Isai DG, Napiwocki BN, Rodriguez AM, Brown ME, Woon MT, Shao A, Han T, Park D, Hacker TA, Crone WC, Burlingham WJ, Glukhov AV, Ge Y, Kamp TJ
    • Stem Cells 2019 Jul; 37(7): 910-923
    • [PubMed ID: 31087611]
    • A Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Screen for Smooth Muscle Cell Differentiation and Maturation Identifies Inhibitors of Intimal Hyperplasia.
    • Zhang J, McIntosh BE, Wang B, Brown ME, Probasco MD, Webster S, Duffin B, Zhou Y, Guo LW, Burlingham WJ, Kent C, Ferris M, Thomson JA
    • Stem Cell Reports 2019 Jun 11; 12(6): 1269-1281
    • [PubMed ID: 31080110]
    • Milk and the "Grandmother Effect"- a new contribution to the legacy of Ray Owen.
    • Burlingham WJ
    • Haematologica 2019 Feb; 104(2): 216-218
    • [PubMed ID: 30705113]
    • Operational immune tolerance towards transplanted allogeneic pancreatic islets in mice and a non-human primate.
    • Abdulreda MH, Berman DM, Shishido A, Martin C, Hossameldin M, Tschiggfrie A, Hernandez LF, Hernandez A, Ricordi C, Parel JM, Jankowska-Gan E, Burlingham WJ, Arrieta-Quintero EA, Perez VL, Kenyon NS, Berggren PO
    • Diabetologia 2019 05; 62(5): 811-821
    • [PubMed ID: 30701283]

All Publications on PubMed