Marlene Cano, MD, PhD

Marlene Cano, MD, PhD

Instructor in Medicine


Instructor in Medicine


My main research interests are in elucidating the mechanisms by which chronic rejection develops after lung transplantation. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how mitochondrial dysfunction, defective mitophagy or metabolic adaptations in the innate immune system result in augmented alloimmune responses that drive chronic rejection. Immunometabolism is an exciting field at the forefront of mechanisms and treatment targets for oncology and inflammatory/autoimmune diseases but is spared in its evaluation in solid organ transplantation. The ultimate goal is to identify metabolic targets to be used clinically to delay chronic rejection and improve the survival of our patients.

I am also interested in understanding how intrinsically inflammatory circulating mitochondrial-DNA released from damaged cells/organs are associated with increased disease severity in sepsis, ARDS and in COVID-19 disease and well as how COVID-19 specifically affects our lung transplant patients. This research may lead to development of improved prognostic factors but also understanding of the mechanisms by which COVID-19 causes severe disease and how different treatments affect mitochondrial-DNA release.

My clinical interests are management of end-stage lung disease and lung transplantation, as well as ICU management of acute lung injury, ARDS, and COVID-19 patients. My teaching/educational interests include understanding how our management of lung transplantation or COVID-19 specifically affect our patients from diverse communities.

Education and Training

  • 2005-2013, MD. PhD. Neuroscience, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA
  • 2013-2016, Residency, Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA
  • 2016-2019, Fellowship, Pulmonary and Critical Care, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO
  • 2019-2022, Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, Lung Transplant Immunobiology, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
  • 2021-Present, Graduate Certificate in Clinical and Translational Investigation, ICTS, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
  • 2022-Present, Instructor in Medicine, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO

Honors and Awards

  • 2022, Cohort 10 Appointee to AZ-PRIDE Advanced Resp Research for Equity (AiRE) program
  • 2022, Abstract to American Transplant Congress (ATC), highlighted in “What’s Hot, What’s New”
  • 2022, American Journal for Transplantation (AJT) Editorial Fellow
  • 2022, American Thoracic Society (ATS) RCMB Planning Committee Apprentice
  • 2022, KL2 Institutional Translational Research Awardee, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
  • 2021, Annual Respiratory Disease Young Investigators’ Forum – Peer Award Winner
  • 2021, CHEST Foundation Research Grant Awardee – MT-DNA as indicator of COVID19 severity
  • 2020, Kouchoukos Research Fellow Award Finalist, CT Surgery Division, Washington University
  • 2020, ISHLT selected to present to compete for Philip K. Caves Award
  • 2020, American Transplant Congress, Young Investigator Travel Award
  • 2019-2021, Pulmonary T32 NIH Research Training Grant
  • 2010-2012, F30 NIH National Research Service Award Grant (NRSA)
  • 2010, UI CCOM Neuroscience Research Day – First Place Award
  • 2010, Latino Medical Student Association Regional Delegate
  • 2010-2011, Council of Status of Women of Iowa Executive Member
  • 2009-2011, Graduate Student Senate Representative
  • 2009, Health Disparities Conference Scholarship Recipient
  • 2008-2010, T32 Pain Research Training Grant
  • 2006, U of Iowa CCOM Outstanding Poster Presentation Award
  • 2003 & 2004, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar
  • 2002-2005, Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society
  • 2001-2005, Ronald E. McNair Scholar
  • 2001, HEP/CAMP Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • 2000-2005, OLLU Honors, Dean’s List and Academic Undergraduate Scholarships
  • 2000-2001, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Scholarship


View Marlene Cano, MD, PhD’s publications.