Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil
Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, has been named the new Director of the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research at the Perelman School of Medicine and currently serves as the ACC’s Associate Director for Translational Research and Executive Director of its Translational Centers of Excellence program. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017.
Dr. Vonderheide is also Vice Chair for Research in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and serves as Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Penn, which was founded in April 2016 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker to foster greater collaboration between the country’s cancer centers with the goal of accelerating immunotherapy research. He is also Co-Leader of the Stand Up to Cancer–Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Dream Team.
Dr. Vonderheide succeeds Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD, who has served as the ACC’s Director since 2011 and will become Scientific Director of the Ludwig Institute.
Through a focus on novel immunotherapies for pancreatic, breast, and ovarian cancers, as well as melanoma, Dr. Vonderheide has mapped new models for speeding translational research. He has led studies that demonstrated the role of agonist CD40 antibodies as a potential immune therapy for cancer, paving the way to ongoing late-stage clinical trials. His work on innovative vaccine-based approaches for cancer treatment and prevention has been supported by the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and the Basser Center for BRCA. He has also worked closely with collaborators in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine on projects that have strengthened both human and canine health. Furthermore, Dr. Vonderheide has served among leaders of an interdisciplinary team that defined a promising therapy employing both radiation and immunotherapy drugs to mount a vaccine-like attack against cancer cells in patients with advanced melanoma. ■