University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Head and Neck Cancer SPORE


Jennifer Rubin Grandis, MD, FACS
Principal Investigator

Dr. Jennifer GradisDr. Grandis is a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and serves as Leader of the Head and Neck Cancer Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Dr. Grandis' basic science laboratory is dedicated to the study of EGFR signaling pathways in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Her research interests include G-protein-coupled receptor transactivation of EGFR, therapeutic targeting of EGFR and STATs in SCCHN patients, and determining the mechanism(s) of resistance to strategies that block this growth factor receptor.

Dr. Grandis completed medical school, residencies in otolaryngology and surgery, and a fellowship in infectious disease at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. During this time she received many awards and distinctions, including the Kenneth H. Hinderer Award in Otolaryngology and the Leo H. Criep Award in Medicine. Dr. Grandis has contributed numerous articles and abstracts to the scientific literature and holds patents for novel concepts pertaining to cancer treatments and diagnostics. She maintains membership in a number of professional societies, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Medical Association, American Association for Cancer Research, and Women in Cancer Research. She is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological (Triologic) Society. She received an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship in 2008.

Dr. Grandis's department website

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Robert L. FerrisDr. Ferris’s clinical practice is focused on head and neck cancers with a special emphasis on thyroid and parathyroid tumors, salivary gland neoplasms, endoscopic, robotic and partial laryngeal surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery. He is heavily focused on personalized treatment approaches and research in HPV-associated head and neck cancers.

He received medical and graduate training in immunology in the MD/PhD program at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He underwent residency training in otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, with subspecialty training in head and neck oncology in 2001. He then moved to the University of Pittsburgh to join the faculty in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Immunology.

Dr. Ferris has received research awards from the American College of Surgeons, American Head and Neck Society, the American Academy of Otolaryngology, and the National Institute of Health.

Jonas T. Johnson, MD
Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Jonas Johnson Dr. Johnson is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he holds a joint appointment as professor of Radiation Oncology. He is also professor of oral maxillofacial surgery in the School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Johnson limits his clinical practice to the treatment of patients with tumors of the head and neck as well as the diagnosis and therapy of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Johnson was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. He earned his medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical Center. He later completed his residency at the same institution.

Dr. Johnson has developed his research around the care of patients with cancer of the head and neck. He has special interest and expertise in the management of patients with carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract as well as neoplasia of the salivary apparatus and thyroid surgery. He has a major interest in the management of cervical metastasis, surgical therapy for early laryngeal cancer, and adjuvant therapy for advanced head and neck cancer. In 1980, a prospective database of all patients treated for head and neck cancer was established at the University of Pittsburgh. This allowed for an extended period of practice-based learning, which resulted in the publications of over 340 manuscripts in the peer-reviewed literature. Dr. Johnson has also established a database for patients with snoring and OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). He has participated in clinical trials employing radiofrequency for treatment of snoring and UPPP for OSA. Dr. Johnson has contributed 166 chapters to textbooks and edited or co-edited 20 texts.

Dr. Johnson is a past president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (2003) and the American Head & Neck Society (2004). He currently serves as editor of the Laryngoscope.