Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD


Immunotherapy was once an improbable approach to fighting cancer. Now, it’s a promising, leading-edge cancer treatment. Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, seeks to further develop and implement immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s immune system to eliminate and suppress cancer. By translating basic science discoveries into immunotherapies for the clinic, Dr. Ferris and colleagues are developing new techniques to combat head and neck tumors, as well as other types of cancers. Dr. Ferris studies how immune cells in the surrounding tumor microenvironment can be activated and harnessed to combat cancer and how tumor cells evade the body’s immunologic defenses.   


In 2017, Dr. Ferris was named director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, overseeing all aspects of cancer research and education at the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. Dr. Ferris received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and both his MD and immunology PhD from Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed a residency in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery.