Gary Kohanbash, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director, PNIO Laboratory

Gary Kohanbash, PhD, joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in January of 2017.

Dr. Kohanbash graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 with a bachelor of science honors degree in neuroscience, specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. He then earned his masters of science degree in infectious diseases and microbiology in 2009, and a doctorate in philosophy in 2012, both from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. While there, he identified novel pathways of immunosuppression in gliomas and participated in multiple phase I/II immunotherapy clinical trials.

Dr. Kohanbash subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery in 2014. He continued his training as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Neurological Surgery. While at UCSF, Dr. Kohanbash was privileged to complete a prestigious T32 training program in translational brain tumor research.

Dr. Kohanbash's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Immunotherapy for pediatric and adult central nervous system tumors.

Professional Organization Membership

Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
Society for Neuro-Oncology
World Molecular Imaging Society

Professional Activities

Faculty Assembly Member, University of Pittsburgh
Senate Library Committee, University of Pittsburgh
Senate Member, University of Pittsburgh
Scientific Committee Member, Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium
Study Section, St. Baldrick’s Foundation Fellowship
Study Section, American Brain Tumor Association

Education & Training

  • BS, (hons), Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, 2007
  • MS, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Pittsburgh, 2009
  • PhD, Brain Tumor Immunology, University of Pittsburgh, 2012
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 2014
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 2016

Honors & Awards

  • Research Travel Award, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, 2014-15
  • Honoree, The Annual Convocation of the University of Pittsburgh, 2010, 2014
  • Best Dissertation Award, Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Pittsburgh, 2013
  • Top Oral Presentation, Translational Research Cancer Center Consortium (TRCCC), 2013
  • International Research Travel Award, Japanese Society for Brain Tumor Pathology, 2012
  • Best Graduate Thesis Award, Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Pittsburgh, 2010
  • Top Poster Award, Translational Research Cancer Center Consortium (TRCCC), 2009

Research Activities

The Kohanbash Lab continues to work on improving immunotherapy for patients with brain tumors. One of the promising areas in the lab has been work in developing new techniques to monitor immunotherapy. Dr. Kohanbash has started and continues to use bioinformatic data and machine learning to accomplish this, however, he understands the need to do this using non-invasive techniques.

Imaging capabilities continue to expand and Dr. Kohanbash is developing markers to track the status of immunotherapies throughout the tumor and without the need for samples from patients. This work will hopefully be available for patients in the future.

As Dr. Kohanbash gains expertise in doing this type of work, he has been expanding this area of research to include intraoperative surgical guidance, and radiopharmaceutical therapies, using similar strategies showing promise for imaging.

Dr. Kohanbash is also focusing on testing multiple new immunotherapies for translation and also developing new cell therapy approaches. 

Media Appearances