Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD

  • Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • Hillman Professor of Oncology and Professor of Otolaryngology, of Immunology, and of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist and founding co-director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center—the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center—develops and implements immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s immune system to eliminate and suppress cancer. He studies how immune cells in the tumor microenvironment can be harnessed to combat cancer and how tumor cells evade the body’s immunologic defenses.

Dr. Ferris currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancer Immunology Research, and as section editor for the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, and Cancer. He is editor-in-chief of Oral Oncology

Dr. Ferris has published more than 380 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and is co-chair of the National Cancer Institute Head and Neck Steering committee to facilitate prospective clinical trials.  Dr. Ferris has led several prospective randomized trials—including those that led to the approval of immunotherapy for head and neck cancer—and testing treatment deintensification for good prognosis HPV+ head and neck cancer after transoral surgery.  He is principal investigator of the Hillman Specialized Programs of Research Excellence in head and neck cancer and leads a National Cancer Institute-funded immunotherapy laboratory.

Dr. Ferris received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and both his M.D. and Ph.D. in immunology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, serving as chief resident in otolaryngology, and received sub-specialty training in head and neck oncologic surgery. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the recipient of numerous research and teaching awards.