Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Department of Medicine

Faculty Profiles

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photo Melissa A Burgess, MD


Assistant Professor of Medicine


Phone: 412-864-7764

Office: 5150 Centre Avenue
Room 562
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: 412-864-7764
Fax: 412-648-6579
Administrative Assistant:
Ryan Pawloski
Address: 5150 Centre Avenue
5th floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: 412-864-7764
Fax: 412-648-6579
Education and Training
BS, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Chemistry, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, 2005
MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2009
Internal Medicine Residency, University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, 2012
Hematology/Oncology Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, 2015
Chief, Hematology/Oncology Fellowship, University of PIttsburgh, UPMC, 2014
Research Interest
Dr. Burgess is a clinical and translational investigator in sarcoma, with active involvement in current clinical trials. Dr. Burgess’ research efforts include collaboration with Dr. Lisa Butterfield, director of the Immune Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory (IMCPL) at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), with a focus on analyzing peripheral blood samples from SARC 028: A Phase II Study of the Anti-PD1 Antibody Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in Patients with Advanced Sarcomas. Planned analyses include the assessment of T-cell populations and other immune markers in the circulation with correlation to tumor response to pembrolizumab. Results will be combined with the other correlative studies from SARC 028 including correlation of response with PD-L1 status and immune monitoring within the tumor. These transitional studies should offer unique insights into the biology of PD-1 blockade in sarcoma. Dr. Burgess serves as local principal investigator (PI) for SARC 028, a clinical trial through Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC), in which the University of Pittsburgh is a SARC-participating institution.
Clinical Interest
Dr. Burgess specializes in the care of soft tissue and bone sarcoma patients at the Hillman Cancer Center. She works at the multidisciplinary level to ensure comprehensive care of all sarcoma patients. Dr. Burgess has a clinical research interest on designing and developing novel agents and treatment strategies for sarcoma patients. In this regard, she will work closely with the Phase I Team. Dr. Burgess has an additional interest in Merkel Cell Carcinoma and works closely with the Melanoma Center at UPCI. She serves as the local PI for the study of Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network CITN-09: A Phase II Study of MK-3475 in Patients with Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC).
Educational Interest
Dr. Burgess is one of the Associate Program Directors of the UPMC Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program and in this position she works closely with the other fellowship leadership on developing the fellowship curriculum as well as play an active role in developing quality improvement (QI) projects for the fellows. She is the course director for the Morbidity and Mortality Conference which is a bimonthly conference held with the hematology-oncology fellows and UPMC Cancer Center faculty. Given her strong interest in QI, she is focused on developing new QI initiatives for the Division of Hematology-Oncology and will work closely with Dr. Gladwin and other Senior Leaders in the Department of Medicine. Current efforts are focused on implementing a chemotherapy toxicity risk predictor tool in advanced cancer patients in the outpatient clinics within the Division.
Selected Publications:
Burgess M, Puhalla S. BRCA 1/2-mutation related and sporadic breast and ovarian cancers: more alike than different. Frontiers in Oncology. 2014; 4: 19.
Burgess M, Tawbi H. Immunotherapeutic Approaches to Sarcoma. Current Treatment Options in Oncology. Current Treatment Options in Oncology. 2015; 16(6): 345.
Burgess M, Gorantla V, Weiss K, Tawbi H. Immunotherapy in Sarcoma: Future Horizons. Current Oncology Reports. 2015; 17(11): 52.