Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD

  • Associate Senior Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research, Health Sciences
  • Hillman Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Otolaryngology, of Immunology, and of Radiation Oncology, School of Medicine
  • Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, is associate senior vice chancellor for cancer research, health sciences; Hillman Professor of Oncology; professor of otolaryngology, of immunology, and of radiation oncology, School of Medicine; and director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Ferris 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. He studies the immune response to human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancers and treats patients with benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck using minimally invasive approaches.

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. As founding codirector of the Tumor Microenvironment Center at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Dr. Ferris 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 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 School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, serving as chief resident in otolaryngology and receiving 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.