News and Announcements

Learn more about the latest news and accomplishments from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at the links below.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Joins Other NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Urging Action to Get Cancer-Preventing HPV Vaccination Back on Track

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and partner organizations today issued a joint statement urging the nation’s physicians, parents and young adults to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination back on track.

Three Hillman Researchers Featured on American Cancer Society’s “TheoryLab” Podcast

The American Cancer Society recently published a “TheoryLab” podcast episode featuring three researchers from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, including Kathy Shair, PhD, Sarah Hengel, PhD, and Yuri Bunimovich, MD, PhD. Listen to learn how these researchers are revolutionizing cancer care from their respective labs. 

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Names New Chief of Hematology Oncology

Taofeek K. Owonikoko, M.D., Ph.D., will join the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh as chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Owonikoko, a physician-scientist board-certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine, also will serve as associate director for translational research and co-leader of the Cancer Therapeutics Program at Hillman. He will hold the Stanley M. Marks – OHA Endowed Chair in Hematology/Oncology Leadership and will begin his appointment on July 1, 2021.

New Research Suggests Breast Cancer Treatment in Patients over Age 70 can be Safely Reduced

Oncologists faced with treating older women with breast cancer often must decide if the treatment may be more detrimental than the cancer. A study published today in JAMA Network Open by researchers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine sheds new light on this choice and suggests the rate of cancer recurrence or survival may be no different in treated vs. untreated elderly patients diagnosed in the early stages of the cancer diagnosed most commonly in women.

UPMC/Pitt Researchers Share New Data on COVID-19 Vaccination in Elderly and Cancer Patients

UPMC and University of Pittsburgh physician leaders recently shared new data on how certain UPMC patients with weak immune systems have responded to COVID-19 vaccination and offered clinical recommendations in light of these findings. They also provided an update on UPMC’s COVID-19 vaccination and monoclonal antibody treatments in the communities we serve. 

New Faculty Welcome: Dr. Nadine Hempel, Member of the Cancer Biology Program

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is pleased to welcome Nadine Hempel, Ph.D., to the faculty as a member of the cancer biology program. Hempel will serve as an associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Hillman Researchers Receive More Than $2.5M for Ovarian Cancer Research

Pitt researchers at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Magee Womens Research Institute (MWRI) were awarded more than $2.5 million by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support ovarian cancer research.

Insight About Tumor Microenvironment Could Boost Cancer Immunotherapy

A paper published today in Nature shows how chemicals in the areas surrounding tumors—known as the tumor microenvironment—subvert the immune system and enable cancer to evade attack. These findings suggest that an existing drug could boost cancer immunotherapy.

Fecal Transplant Boosts Cancer Immunotherapy

Researchers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) demonstrate that changing the gut microbiome can transform patients with advanced melanoma who never responded to immunotherapy—which has a failure rate of 40% for this type of cancer—into patients who do.

UPMC Hillman Immunologist Receives Holzer Research Award

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center physician-scientist Leisha A. Emens, M.D., Ph.D., has been presented with the Sy Holzer Endowed Immunotherapy Research Fund Award to advance innovative research in cancer. Internationally recognized for her work in breast cancer immunotherapy, Emens is co-leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and Director of Translational Immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center at UPMC Hillman.

New Faculty Welcome: Dr. Jing Hong Wang, Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is pleased to welcome Jing Hong Wang, M.D., Ph.D., to the faculty as a member of the cancer immunology and immunotherapy program. Wang will also be appointed as a professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Hillman Announces New Director for Cell Therapy Laboratory

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center today announced that Yen-Michael Hsu, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as the new as Director of the Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory at (IMCPL). He is also appointed as associate professor of hematology and oncology in the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He has been awarded a Hillman Fellowship for Innovative Cancer Research to support his research.

Hillman Appoints Brain Tumor Expert as New Deputy Director of Research

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center recently announced the appointment of Jeremy Rich, M.D., M.H.S., M.B.A., as deputy director of research. Rich will also serve as the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Personalized Cancer Therapies and a professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Q&A with Hillman Virologist Part of Historic FDA Panel That Endorsed COVID-19 Vaccine

Hillman virologist Patrick Moore, MD, MPH, distinguished professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was a part of the small committee of scientists tasked by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewing the data provided by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which has developed a COVID-19 vaccine.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Rated Exceptional by National Cancer Institute

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center received an “exceptional” score, the highest achievable rating, and its largest grant to date when it was recently renewed as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)- designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for another five-year period.

The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for low-income people appears to lead to earlier diagnosis of colon cancer, enhanced access to care and improved surgical care for patients with the disease, according to research by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. 

UPMC Partners with American Cancer Society to Address Breast Cancer Disparities

UPMC is one of just 21 hospital systems in the country and the only system in Pennsylvania selected to work with the American Cancer Society (ACS) on a community program to promote health equity and equal access to cancer screenings and education with a specific focus on breast cancer.

Pitt and Tsinghua University Scientists Collaborate to Improve Cancer Treatments

Through a novel combination of immunotherapy and small molecule drugs, an ongoing collaboration between scientists in Pittsburgh and China is developing the future of cancer treatments.

Increase in Early Cancer Detection Followed ACA Expansion, Hillman/Pitt Study Finds

In an analysis published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health demonstrate positive effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion on rates of early cancer diagnosis. 

Hillman Study Shows How HIV and Cancer Drugs Accelerate Cellular Aging

A new study led by researchers at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh published in Nature Communications shows for the first time how certain drugs used to treat HIV and cancer drive the cellular aging process, at least in part, by blocking telomeres – the protective tips on the end of our chromosomes – from replenishing themselves.

Pitt/UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Name New Surgical Oncology Chief

Amer Zureikat, M.D., F.A.C.S., has been appointed vice chair of surgery for Surgical Oncology in the UPMC Department of Surgery and chief of Surgical Oncology at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. 

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Celebration Successful Virtual Event

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Celebration of Hope was held virtually this year due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hillman Immunologist Recognized for Cancer Immunology Research

Hillman investigator, Greg Delgoffe, PhD, associate professor of immunology at Pitt, was recognized this month with the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Lloyd J. Old STAR Program grant in Cancer Immunology.

Felicia Snead releaseSushil Beriwal releaseUPMC Hillman Cancer Center Radiation Oncologists Named Fellows of the American Society for Radiation Oncology  

Two UPMC Hillman Cancer Center radiation oncologists have been designated Fellows of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (FASTRO), the world’s largest society for radiation oncology professionals.

Boosting Immune Memory Could Reduce Cancer Recurrence

Research led by Dario Vignali and published in Nature Immunology found a protein that plays an important role in long-term immune response against tumors.


Exploring How Cells Find and Repair Damaged DNA

Hillman researcher Bennett Van Houten, PhD has been featured on the NIEHS Stories of Success Website.


Less Intense Treatment Safe for HPV+ Throat Cancer

A less intense treatment for human papillomavirus positive (HPV+) throat cancer could provide as much benefit as standard higher-dose radiation and chemotherapy while preserving a patient’s throat function, and with potentially less toxicities, according to researchers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Yale Cancer Center.