Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD is Hillman Professor of Oncology and Director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. He is Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research, and Professor of Otolaryngology, of Immunology, and of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh. As a head and neck surgical oncologist and translational tumor immunologist, his lab is uniquely positioned to investigate mechanisms of anti-tumor immunity in the tumor microenvironment (TME), as well as tumor cell escape. Dr. Ferris’s NIH-funded laboratory is focused on reversal of immune escape and immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, leading to the first positive randomized phase III trial of head and cancer immunotherapy. He is Principal Investigator of the Pitt Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for translational head and neck research and has been continuously NIH R01 funded for >15 years.
Dr. Ferris has an h-index of 100 and his >420 peer-reviewed scientific and clinical publications have garnered >41,300 citations. Dr. Ferris currently serves on the Editorial Boards of JNCI, JCO, Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancer Immunology Research. He is Editor in Chief of Oral Oncology. He is lead investigator of several practice-changing, prospective randomized trials, including Checkmate-141 published in NEJM, which led to the FDA approval of Nivolumab for head and neck cancer, ECOG 3311 (published in JCO in late 2021), testing radiation dose-deintensification after transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for HPV+ oropharynx cancer, as well as ECOG-ACRIN 3132, using p53 mutational testing in HPV-negative cancer, to predict response to radiation versus chemoradiation. He recently completed a 6-year term co-chairing the NCI Steering Committee for Head and Neck Cancer and is currently President-elect of the American Head and Neck Society.