UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD

Robert Ferris
Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
Hillman Professor of Oncology
Associate Vice-Chancellor for Cancer Research
Co-Director, Tumor Microenvironment Center
Professor of Otolaryngology, Immunology, and Radiation Oncology

Contact Information

Contact Information

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
Cancer Pavilion, Suite 500
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Email: ferrisrl@upmc.edu

Administrative Assistant
Name: Jamie Lehneke
Phone: 412-623-3205
Email: lehnekej@upmc.edu

Research Keywords

Research Keywords

Antigen presentation; cancer vaccines; CXC chemokines; immunotherapy; squamous cell carcinoma; head and neck cancer; tumor microenvironment; viruses and cancer; HPV

Research Summary

Research Summary


Chemokine signaling

Dr. Ferris's laboratory is focused on understanding basic immunological mechanisms of the T lymphocyte response to cancer, for the development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches to head and neck cancers (HNC). Tumor vaccine clinical trials are currently underway and new strategies are in development. We are particularly interested in the immune response to human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated head and neck cancer, which appears to be a distinct subgroup of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Monitoring the successful immune effects of individuals treated with immunotherapy is a major effort, in order to develop improved generations of vaccine approaches. We are also studying tumor induced immune evasion, such as defective antigen processing and presentation to subvert cytotoxic T lymphocyte recognition of tumors.

Another area of study involves the promotion of tumor metastasis by a family of molecules called chemokines. We are finding important roles for chemokine receptors in cancer metastasis. These chemokines are small, secreted molecules that mediate homing and recruitment of immune cells in response to inflammation, through a family of G-protein linked receptors. Overall, these studies are designed to identify the chemokines relevant to progression of HNC and to provide initial data on their possible clinical utility as components of future vaccination therapies for HNC. In addition, our group is interested in developing immune/inflammatory biomarkers present in the bloodstream for HNC detection, and monitoring in populations at risk for cancer recurrence and/or second primary tumors.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

  • Lim CM, Stephenson R, Salazar AM, Ferris RL. TLR3 agonists improve the immunostimulatory potential of cetuximab against EGFR+ head and neck cancer cells. Oncoimmunology. 2013 Jun 1;2(6):e24677. Epub 2013 Apr 29 PubMed Link
    Shared Resources Used: CF
  • Ho AS, Kannan K, Roy DM, Morris LG, Ganly I, Katabi N, Ramaswami D, Walsh LA, Eng S, Huse JT, Zhang J, Dolgalev I, Huberman K, Heguy A, Viale A, Drobnjak M, Leversha MA, Rice CE, Singh B, Iyer NG, Leemans CR, Bloemena E, Ferris RL, Seethala RR, Gross BE, Liang Y, Sinha R, Peng L, Raphael BJ, Turcan S, Gong Y, Schultz N, Kim S, Chiosea S, Shah JP, Sander C, Lee W, Chan TA. The mutational landscape of adenoid cystic carcinoma. Nat Genet. 2013 Jul;45(7):791-8. doi: 10.1038/ng.2643. Epub 2013 May 19 PubMed Link
  • Stephenson RM, Lim CM, Matthews M, Dietsch G, Hershberg R, Ferris RL. TLR8 stimulation enhances cetuximab-mediated natural killer cell lysis of head and neck cancer cells and dendritic cell cross-priming of EGFR-specific CD8(+) T cells. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2013 May 18. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed Link
    Shared Resources Used: CF
  • Trivedi S, Mattos J, Gooding W, Godfrey TE, Ferris RL. Correlation of tumor marker expression with nodal disease burden in metastatic head and neck cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Aug;149(2):261-8. PubMed Link
    Shared Resources Used: BF
  • Leibowitz MS, Srivastava RM, Andrade Filho PA, Egloff AM, Wang L, Seethala RR, Ferrone S, Ferris RL. SHP2 is overexpressed and inhibits pSTAT1-mediated APM component expression, T-cell attracting chemokine secretion, and CTL recognition in head and neck cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Feb 15;19(4):798-808. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1517. Epub 2013 Jan 30. PubMed Link
  • Maxwell JH, Ferris RL, Gooding W, Cunningham D, Mehta V, Kim S, Myers EN, Johnson J, Chiosea S. Extracapsular spread in head and neck carcinoma: Impact of site and human papillomavirus status. Cancer. 2013 Jun 24. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28169. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed Link
    Shared Resources Used: TARPS
  • Mroz EA, Tward AD, Pickering CR, Myers JN, Ferris RL, Rocco JW. High intratumor genetic heterogeneity is related to worse outcome in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer. 2013 May 20 PubMed Link
  • Srivastava RM, Lee SC, Andrade Filho PA, Lord CA, Jie HB, Davidson HC,Lopez-Albaitero A, Gibson SP, Gooding WE, Ferrone S, Ferris RL. Cetuximab-activated natural killer and dendritic cells collaborate to trigger tumor antigen-specific T-cell immunity in head and neck cancer patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Apr 1;19(7):1858-72. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-2426. Epub 2013 Feb 26. PubMed Link
    Shared Resources Used: CF
  • Caicedo-Granados E, Beswick DM, Christopoulos A, Cunningham DE, Razfar A, Ohr JP, Heron DE, Ferris RL. Oncologic and functional outcomes of partial laryngeal surgery for intermediate-stage laryngeal cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Feb;148(2):235-42. doi: 10.1177/0194599812466367. Epub 2012 Nov 6 PubMed Link
  • Ferris RL, Lotze MT, Leong SP, Hoon DS, Morton DL. Lymphatics, lymph nodes and the immune system: barriers and gateways for cancer spread. Clin Exp Metastasis. 2012 Oct;29(7):729-36 PubMed Link

See all pubs (Pubmed)

Collaborations

Collaborations

Current Internal Collaborators

Dwight Heron, MD, FACRO
Vice Chairman for Clinical Affairs, Department of Radiation Oncology
Member - Head and Neck Cancer Program (HNCP)

Saumendra Sarkar, PhD
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Member - Cancer Virology Program (CVP)

Current External Collaborators

Christine Chung, MD
Associate Professor of Oncology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Soldano Ferrone, MD, PhD
Lecturer on Surgery
Massachusetts General Hospital

Maura Gillison, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center

Carter Van Waes, MD, PhD
Chief, Head and Neck Surgery Branch
NICDC/NIH

Shared Resource Usage

Shared Resource Usage

  • Animal Facility
  • Biostatistics Facility
  • Cancer Bioinformatics Services
  • Cancer Genomics Facility
  • Cancer Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics Facility
  • Cancer Proteomics Facility
  • Cell and Tissue Imaging Facility
  • Cytometry Facility
  • In Vivo Imaging Facility
  • Investigational Drug Services
  • Tissue and Research Pathology Services

Affiliated Graduate Programs

Affiliated Graduate Programs

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Virology & Microbiology

Department Website









Last modified: 8/15/17