Cancer Immunology Expert Will Lead UPMC Hillman

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, an expert in immunotherapy and specialist in head and neck cancer, has been named director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, in Pittsburgh. On July 1, Ferris, a 15-year veteran of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, assumed overall responsibility for all aspects of cancer research and education at Hillman. His appointment follows a nationwide search after the departure of Nancy Davidson, MD.

Dr. Ferris most recently was appointed associate director for translational research and co-director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center. The development and implementation of immunotherapy to treat head and neck tumors has been the primary research focus of the Ferris laboratory. The goals of this research are to boost the body’s immune response against cancer. More recently, his work focuses on how immune cells in the tumor microenvironment influence cancer progression and can be harnessed to advance treatment.

Nationally, Dr. Ferris is co-chair of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Steering Committee for Head and Neck Cancer, at-large director of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, senior examiner of the American Board of Otolaryngology, and chair of the NCI Tumor Microenvironment Study Section. He has authored or co-authored more than 280 peer-reviewed papers and 32 chapters and other invited contributions. He has edited three books, with “Head and Neck Cancer” currently in press.

Dr. Ferris was trained at Johns Hopkins Medical School where he received his medical degree and PhD in immunology and completed his residency in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery.