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Cynthia A. Wenner, PhD

Campus: 
Washington
School of Naturopathic Medicine
School of Natural Health Arts & Sciences
Department of Basic Sciences

Current Roles

Dr. Wenner is a research associate professor in the Department of Basic Sciences within the School of Natural Health Sciences. She conducts research and co-teaches Immunology and Research Methods courses in the naturopathic medicine and herbal sciences programs. Dr. Wenner is currently the co-director and project principal investigator of a NCCAM/NIH-funded Developmental Center for CAM Research (DCRC) grant examining the anti-tumor immunopotentiating effects of Trametes versicolor, a medicinal mushroom.

Dr. Wenner is also conducting research on the mechanisms of immunomodulatory effects of Echinacea purpurea and Spilanthes acmella preparations and constituents, and participates as co-investigator on other studies investigating the immunological effects of CAM therapies.

Education

  • PhD in immunology from the Washington University
  • BS in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan

Past Experience

Conducted postdoctoral research as a mentored independent scientist, funded through a NCCAM/NIH K01 award in the combined areas of immunology and botanical medicine. This research was co-mentored by Gowsala Sivam, PhD, professor in the Department of Basic Sciences at Bastyr University, and Gary Elmer, PhD, a professor from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.

Interests

Dr. Wenner’s research interests are focused on understanding the immunomodulatory effects of botanical medicines. She is particularly interested in understanding combination effects of constituents in complex botanical preparations for the treatment of cancer. Dr. Wenner greatly enjoys teaching immunology and serving as a research mentor to students who aspire toward a future career in CAM research. Outside of work, Dr. Wenner enjoys spending time with her two children, singing, hiking and camping, bike riding, gardening, making herbal medicines and her yoga practice.

Research

Dr. Wenner's research interests are focused on the study of immunological activities of botanical medicines and other natural products. She is currently studying the immunomodulatory effects of distinct echinacea extracts on measures of innate and T cell-specific immunity, and the effects of echinacea constituents alone and in combination on these same immune measures, in order to determine the potential for different constituent groups to synergize in their bioactivities. Her research group is also studying the effects of cytochrome P450 metabolites of echinacea extracts and constituents on human T cell and monocyte/macrophage responses.

Dr. Wenner also leads a study under the auspices of a NCCAM/NIH-funded Developmental Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center that is designed to determine the potential for a complex medicinal mushroom preparation from Trametes (Coriolus) versicolor to enhance anti-cancer immune responses, including NK cell activity, phagocytic activity and cytokine responses, and activity of immune cells in peripheral blood from healthy humans. For this study, the group will also examine the potential for distinct fractions to synergize in modulation of these immune parameters.

Dr. Wenner mentors students interested in working on these ongoing studies who have lab experience in cell culture and have a strong knowledge base in the field of immunology.

Philosophy

Dr. Wenner’s philosophy is to teach through active learning, sharing her enthusiasm and providing real-life examples relevant to the topics she teaches and researches.

Related

Portrait of Cynthia A. Wenner, PhD
Cynthia A. Wenner, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Basic Science
cindyw[at]bastyr[dot]edu