Lab Overview

The focus of the Hotchkiss laboratory is defining new therapeutic approaches to sepsis, a highly lethal disorder which occurs during severe overwhelming infection.  Our group was the first to show that sepsis-induced massive programmed cell death (apoptosis) of immune effector cells in patients dying of the disorder. Recently, our laboratory has concentrated on identifying mechanisms of immunosuppression during sepsis and developing new immuno-adjuvant therapies. We performed a detailed immuno-phenotyping of lung and spleen immune cells in patients dying of sepsis. In addition to extensive loss of CD4 and CD8 T cells, other mechanisms of immune suppression were identified including increased T regulatory cells, up-regulation of negative co-stimulatory molecules, down-regulation of positive co-stimulatory molecules, and T cell “exhaustion”.   The current therapeutic approach is multi-pronged and includes administration of the pleuripotent cytokine IL-7 and modulation of negative co-stimulatory pathways that induce immunosuppression using anti-programmed cell death-1.  We have formed close working collaborations with colleagues at a number of major academic institutions and are organizing sepsis clinical trials using IL-7 and anti-PD-L1.  Our sepsis clinical trials group is partnering with Bristol Meyers Squibb in testing of anti-PD-L1 and with Revimmune in testing of IL-7.


Richard Hotchkiss, M.D.

Professional Experience:

1982 – 1983          Instructor in Anesthesia/Attending in Respiratory Intensive Care Unit, Massachusetts

General Hospital, Boston, MA.

1985 – 1987          Clinical Associate in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

1984 – 1987          Assist. Prof. of Anesthesiology and Medicine, Emory Univ. School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.

1987 – 1996          Assist. Prof. in Anesthesiology, Washington Univ. School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

1996 – present    Assoc. Prof. in Anesthesiology, Washington Univ. School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

1997 – present    Assoc. Prof. in Medicine and Surgery, Washington Univ. School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

2002 – present    Professor in Anesthesiology, Medicine, Surgery, and Developmental Biology



Nobel Symposium No. 124 Septicemia and Shock, Invited Lecturer, Stockholm, Sweden, 2003

Member – NIH, Surgery, Anesthesiology Trauma Study Section 2001-2005

NIGMS MERIT Award 2003

Distinguished Investigator Award 2007, Washington University School of Medicine

Henning Pontoppidan Visiting Professorship – Massachusetts General Hospital 2011

Scientific Achievement Award 2012 – Shock Society

I.S. Ravdin Lecture in Basic Science 98th Annual American College of Surgeons (2012)