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Robert Herman Vonderheide, MD, DPhil

Robert Herman Vonderheide, MD, DPhil Physician

Associate Director for Translational Research Co-Leader, Immunobiology Program, Abramson Cancer Center Vice Chief for Research, Hematology Oncology Division, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research

Dr. Vonderheide is a Penn Medicine employed physician.

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Clinical Specialties


  • Medical Oncology

Programs & Centers:

Board Certification:

  • Medical Oncology, 2000

Clinical Expertise:

  • Pancreatic Cancer

Description of Clinical Expertise

Medical Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics, in particular Immunotherapy

Practice Locations and Appointments

  • Abramson Cancer Center

    Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine West Pavilion, 4th Floor 3400 Civic Center Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19104 800-789-7366 (PENN)

    A facility of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Insurance Accepted

  • Aetna US Healthcare
  • Cigna
  • Cigna HealthSpring
  • CVS Health
  • Devon Health Services (Americare)
  • Gateway Health Plan
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • HealthAmerica / HealthAssurance, a Coventry Plan
  • HealthPartners
  • HealthPartners Medicare
  • HealthSmart
  • Highmark Blue Shield
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  • Humana / Choicecare
  • Independence Blue Cross (Keystone East)
  • Intergroup
  • Keystone First
  • Multiplan
  • NJ Medicaid
  • NJ Qualcare
  • Oxford Health Plan
  • PA Medicaid
  • PA Medicare
  • Preferred Health Care/LGH
  • Rail Road Medicare / Palmetto GBA
  • Remedy Partners at Penn Medicine
  • Tricare
  • United Healthcare
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan
  • US Family Health Plan

Education and Training

Medical School: Harvard Medical School
Residency: Massachusetts General Hospital
Fellowship: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


American Association of Cancer Research Cancer Immunology Working Group, National American Association of Cancer Research, National American Association of Physicians, National American Society of Clinical Investigation, National American Society of Clinical Oncology, National Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, National Cancer Institute, National Immunotherapy Task Force, Investigation Drug Steering Committee, National Cancer Institute, National Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, National National Institutes of Health (Dallas, TX), National National Institutes of Health (Denver, CO), National National Institutes of Health, Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section, National Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, National Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer , National

Hospital Affiliation

Dr. Vonderheide is a Penn Medicine employed physician.

Hospital Privileges:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania: Has privileges to treat patients in the hospital.


Description of Research Expertise:

The Vonderheide laboratory combines efforts in both basic research and clinical investigation to advance the understanding of tumor immunology and to develop novel immunotherapies for cancer. The chief hypothesis is that successful approaches in tumor immunotherapy will need to (a) optimize target antigens with regard to clinical applicability and risk of antigen loss, (b) repair host immuno-incompetence in antigen presentation and T cell function, and (c) circumvent immuno-suppressive factors of the tumor and tumor microenvironment.

Dr. Vonderheide’s basic research includes deciphering the immunobiology of novel genetically engineered mouse models of cancer, including the regulation of immune surveillance and the tumor microenvironment by CD40 and other pathways, and with a focus on pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma. His translational work tests novel approaches such as vaccines, antibodies, and adoptive T cells for the treatment of patients with melanoma, pancreatic cancer and other cancers. He has studied ‘universal’ tumor antigens, immune effects of radiation, and immune modulatory pathways involving CD40, GM-CSF, PD-1, CTLA-4, and CD25. Publications include those in high-impact journals such as Nature, Science, New England Journal of Medicine, and Cancer Cell.

Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil
Professor of Medicine; Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research; Associate Director for Translational Research, Abramson Cancer Center; Vice Chief for Research, Hematology-Oncology Division, Department of Medicine

Nune Markosyan, MD, PhD, Laboratory Director

David Bajor, MD, Instructor in Medicine

Katelyn Byrne, PhD, Post doctoral Fellow

Tim Chao, Graduate Student (MD/PhD)

Mark Diamond, MD, PhD, Hematology Oncology Fellow; post doc

Rebecca Evans, Graduate Student (VMD/PhD)

Austin Huffman, Research Specialist

Nathan Leisenring, Penn Undergraduate Scholar

Andrew Rech, Graduate Student (MD/PhD)

Mark Sudell, Administrator, 215-746-8901;

Rafael Winograd, PhD (Former Graduate Student now Medical Student)

Selected Publications:

Bajor David L, Xu Xiaowei, Torigian Drew A, Mick Rosemarie, Garcia Laura R, Richman Lee P, Desmarais Cindy, Nathanson Katherine L, Schuchter Lynn M, Kalos Michael, Vonderheide Robert H: Immune Activation and a 9-Year Ongoing Complete Remission Following CD40 Antibody Therapy and Metastasectomy in a Patient with Metastatic Melanoma. Cancer immunology research 2 (11): 1051-8,2014.

Condamine Thomas, Kumar Vinit, Ramachandran Indu R, Youn Je-In, Celis Esteban, Finnberg Niklas, El-Deiry Wafik S, Winograd Rafael, Vonderheide Robert H, English Nickolas R, Knight Stella C, Yagita Hideo, McCaffrey Judith C, Antonia Scott, Hockstein Neil, Witt Robert, Masters Gregory, Bauer Thomas, Gabrilovich Dmitry I: ER stress regulates myeloid-derived suppressor cell fate through TRAIL-R-mediated apoptosis. The Journal of clinical investigation 124 (6): 2626-39,2014.

Zhang Yaqing, Yan Wei, Mathew Esha, Bednar Filip, Wan Shanshan, Collins Meredith A, Evans Rebecca A, Welling Theodore H, Vonderheide Robert H, di Magliano Marina Pasca: CD4+ T lymphocyte ablation prevents pancreatic carcinogenesis in mice. Cancer immunology research 2 (5): 423-35,2014.

Richman Lee P, Vonderheide Robert H: Role of crosslinking for agonistic CD40 monoclonal antibodies as immune therapy of cancer. Cancer immunology research 2 (1): 19-26,2014.

Mueller Christian, Chulay Jeffrey D, Trapnell Bruce C, Humphries Margaret, Carey Brenna, Sandhaus Robert A, McElvaney Noel G, Messina Louis, Tang Qiushi, Rouhani Farshid N, Campbell-Thompson Martha, Fu Ann Dongtao, Yachnis Anthony, Knop David R, Ye Guo-Jie, Brantly Mark, Calcedo Roberto, Somanathan Suryanarayan, Richman Lee P, Vonderheide Robert H, Hulme Maigan A, Brusko Todd M, Wilson James M, Flotte Terence R: Human Treg responses allow sustained recombinant adeno-associated virus-mediated transgene expression. The Journal of clinical investigation 123 (12): 5310-8,2013.

Markosyan N, Chen EP, Evans RA, Ndong V, Vonderheide RH, Smyth EM: Mammary carcinoma cell derived cyclooxygenase 2 suppresses tumor immune surveillance by enhancing intratumoral immune checkpoint activity. Breast Cancer Research 15 (5): R75 [Epub ahead of print],2013.

Beatty GL, Torigian DA, Chiorean EG, Saboury B, Brothers A, Alavi A, Troxel AB, Sun W, Teitelbaum UR, Vonderheide RH, O'Dwyer P: A phase I study of an agonist CD40 monoclonal antibody (CP-870,893) in combination with gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Clinical Cancer Research : [Epub ahead of print],2013.

Bayne LJ, Vonderheide RH: A myeloid-derived suppressor cell-mediated T-cell suppression assay for functional evaluation of immune cells in tumor-bearing mice. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2013 (9): 2013.

Vonderheide RH,Burg JM, Mick R, Trosko JA, Li D, Shaik MN, Tolcher AW, Hamid O : Phase I study of CD40 antibody CP-870,893 in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel in patients with advanced solid tumors OncoImmunology 2 : e23033,2013.

Tchou J, Wang LC, Selven B, Zhang H, Conejo-Garcia J, Borghaei H, Kalos M, Vonderheide RH, Albelda SM, June CH, Zhang PJ.: Mesothelin, a novel immunotherapy target for triple negative breast cancer. Breast Can Res Treat 133 : 799-804,2012.

View all publications

Academic Contact Info

8-121 Smilow Center for Translational Research
3400 Civic Center Blvd

Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215-573-4265
Fax: 215-573-2652
Patient appointments: 800-789-7366 (PENN)