Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Hematology/Oncology

Faculty Profiles

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photo Leisha A Emens, MD, PhD


Professor of Medicine

Director of Translational Immunotherapy for the Women's Cancer Research Center

Co-Leader, Hillman Cancer Immunology/Immunotherapy Program


Phone: 412-623-3239

Office: UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
5117 Centre Avenue, Room 1.46e
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-623-3239
Fax: 412-623-7709
Administrative Assistant:
Janice Kizior
Address: 5117 Centre Avenue
Suite 1.46
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-623-7713
Fax: 412-623-7709
Education and Training
BA, University of California, San Diego, 1984
PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, 1993
MD, Baylor College of Medicine, 1995
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Institute of Health, 1993
Internship, Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Affiliated Hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital and VA Medical Center Dallas, TX, 1998
Residency, Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Affiliated Hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital and VA Medical Center Dallas, TX, 1998
Senior Clinical and Research Fellow, John Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Oncology, 2001
Senior Clinical Fellow, Hematology, John Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, 2001
Research Interest
Dr. Emens was recruited to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center as Director of Translational Immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center at Magee Women’s Hospital, and Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Research Program. In these leadership roles, she will promote interdisciplinary translational and clinical cancer immunotherapy research, and oversee the strategic expansion, integration, and operations of early phase immunotherapy trials. She will work with investigators in the HCC research programs, including Cancer Therapeutics, Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy, Cancer Biology, Genome Instability, and Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention to develop novel clinical and translational immune-based investigations for the detection, screening, prevention, and treatment of breast and gynecologic cancers. She will work closely with members of the Breast Disease Team to develop strong multi- and inter-disciplinary treatment approaches to breast cancer care. She will be co-PI of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Breast SPORE, planned for submission in September 2020. She will also participate in other team science grants in the Women’s Cancer Research Center and the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program. She will actively participate as a member of the NSABP Foundation, and will serve as UPMC Hillman PI for the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), both of which are clinical translational research groups that test innovative, scientifically-driven therapeutic strategies with deeply rooted biomarker studies through cross-institutional collaborations. She will also work with the Breast and Gynecologic Disease Teams to develop investigator-initiated trials that collaboratively evaluate novel therapies that target common elements of disease biology in women’s cancers.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Emens LA, Cruz C, Eder JP, Braiteh F, Chung C, Tolaney SM, Kuter I, Nanda R, Cassier PA, Delord JP, Gordon MS, ElGabry E, Chang CW, Sarkar I, Grossman W, O’Hear C, Fasso M, Molinero L, Schmid P. Long-term Clinical Outcomes and Biomarker Analyses of Atezolizumab Therapy for Patients With Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: A Phase 1 Study. JAMA Oncology. 2019; 5(1): 74-82.
Schmid P, Adams S, Rugo HS, Schneeweis A, Barrios CH, Iwata H, Dieras V, Hegg R,, Im SA, Shaw Wright G, Henschel V, Molinero L, Chui SY, Funke R, Hussain A, Winer EP, Loi S, Emens LA. Atezolizumab and Nab-Paclitaxel in Advanced Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. The NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL of MEDICINE. 2018; 379(22): 2108-2121.
Cimino-Mathews A, Thompson E, Taube JM, Ye X, Lu Y, Meeker A, Xu H, Sharma R, Lecksell K, Cornish TC, Cuka N, Argani P, Emens LA. PD-L1 (B7-H1) Expression and the Immune Tumor Microenvironment in Primary and Metastatic Breast Carcinomas. Human Pathology. 2016; 47(1): 52-63.
Chen G, Gupta R, Petrik S, Laiko M, Leatherman JM, Asquith JM, Daphtary MM, Garrett-Mayer E, Davidson NE, Hirt K, Berg M, Uram J, Dauses T, Fetting JH, Duus EM, Atay-Rosenthal S, Ye X, Wolff AC, Stearns V, Jaffee EM, Emens LA. A Feasibility Study of Cyclophosphamide, Trastuzumab, and an Allogeneic GM-CSF-secreting Breast Tumor Vaccine for HER2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer. Cancer Immunology Research. 2014; 2(10): 949-961.
Notable Achievements
Stand Up to Cancer Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research, 2020
Hillman Scholar for Team Science, 2019
Hillman Scholar for Innovative Cancer Research, 2018