Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD


Campus: EEI 500

Office: 2.26b HCC

Lab: 2.19 HCC

Ph: 412-623-0327

Fax: 412-623-4840


  • B.A. - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1990)
  • M.D. - Johns Hopkins Medical School (1995)
  • Ph.D. - Johns Hopkins Medical School (1998)

Academic Affiliation

  • UPMC Endowed Professor and Chief, Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology
  • Professor of Immunology
  • Professor of Radiation Oncology
  • Co-leader, Immunology Program
  • Member, Immunology Graduate Program

About Research

Dr. Ferris's research is focused on cellular immune mechanisms of dendritic cells (DC) and T lymphocyte activation against head and neck cancer (HNC) tumor antigens. In addition his group studies immune responses induced by EGFR-specific mAb, cetuximab in cancer patients. His laboratory also investigates the role of inflammatory signals in chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) expression of metastatic head and neck cancer. His laboratory is funded by two R01 grants, the first studying the role of CCR7 in inflammation associated head and neck carcinogenesis, and the second R01 focused on cellular immune mechanisms of DC and T lymphocyte activation induced by EGFR-specific mAb, cetuximab in cancer patients. He is also PI/Project Leader for a recently completed phase I/II, DC-based cancer vaccine trial targeting p53, funded by the Head and Neck SPORE NCI P50 grant. This completed trial is being monitored at the UPCI. His laboratory is focused on mechanisms of tumor antigen processing and immunologic evasion used by head and neck cancer cells, which are translated into phase I and phase II immunotherapy trials. Dr. Ferris has been PI on several clinical trials of immunotherapy, vaccines, and translational science based on DC, peptides or monoclonal antibodies.

Selected Publications

Leibowitz MS, Andrade Filho PA, Ferrone S, Ferris RL. Deficiency of activated STAT1 in head and neck cancer cells mediates TAP1-dependent escape from cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Apr;60(4):525-35

Mburu YK, Egloff AM, Walker WH, Wang L, Seethala RR, Van Waes C, Ferris RL. 2.    Chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) gene expression is regulated by NF-κB and AP1 in metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 12.

Lopez-Albaitero A, Nayak JV, Ogino T, Machandia A, Gooding W, Deleo AB, Ferrone S, Ferris RL. Role of Antigen-Processing Machinery in the In Vitro Resistance of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck Cells to Recognition by CTL. J Immunol. 2006 Mar 15;176(6):3402-9

Linkov, F., Lisovich, A, Yurkovetsky, Z, Velikokhatnaya, L, Winans, M, Bigbee, W, Siegfried, JM, Lokshin, A, and RL Ferris. Early Detection of Head and Neck Cancer: A Novel Screening Tool Using Multiplexed Immunobead-Based Biomarker Profiling. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jan;16(1):102-7. (PMID: 17220337)

Wang, J, Seethala, RR, Singh, N, Zhang Q, Lokshin, A, Gooding, W, Shurin MR, van Waes C, Hasegawa, H, and Ferris, RL. Autocrine and Paracrine Chemokine Receptor 7 (CCR7) Activation in Head and Neck Cancer: Implications for therapy. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Apr 2;100(7):502-12. (PMID: 18364504)

López-Albaitero, A, P Andrade, T Hackman, WE Gooding, Ferrone S, P Kalinski, and Ferris RL. Maturation pathways of DC determine TAP1 and TAP2 levels and cross-presenting function J Immunotherapy, 2009 Jun; 32(5): 465-73.

Andrade Filho, PA, López-Albaitero, A Gooding, WE, and Ferris, RL Novel immunogenic HLA-A*0201-restricted Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) specific T cell epitope in head and neck cancer patients. J Immunotherapy, 2010 Jan;33(1):83-91.

View Complete Publications Listing

Research Interests

  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • Tumor antigen specific monoclonal antibodies
  • Antigen processing and presentation to T cells
  • Role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in head and neck cancer
  • Strategies of immune evasion by cancer cells