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Charles George Drake, M.D., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Charles George Drake, M.D., Ph.D.

Co-Director Prostate Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Clinic

Professor of Oncology


Expertise: Bladder Cancer, Clinical Trials, Immunotherapy, Kidney Cancer, Medical Oncology, Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer

Research Interests: Testicular cancer; Immunotherapy; Bladder cancer; Prostate cancer; Medical oncology; Kidney cancer; General internal medicine; Clinical trials more

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Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964

401 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231 map
Phone: 410-502-7523
Fax: 410-614-0549


Charles G. Drake received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University. After a brief career in circuit design, he went on to study basic immunology, and was awarded his Ph.D. in Immunology from the National Jewish Center for Immunology in Denver, Colorado. As part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), he received an M.D. degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Currently, Drake is professor of oncology, immunology and urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He co-leads the Cancer Immunology Program and directs the Human Immunology and Flow Cytometry Core for the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and is associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

After completing an internal medicine residency on the Osler medicine service at Johns Hopkins, he began a fellowship in Medical Oncology. During his oncology fellowship, he began to investigate the immune response to cancer, developing a unique mouse model to perform studies on specific immune cell tolerance to tumors. Experiments in this model supported the idea that androgen-ablation could mitigate tolerance to prostate cancer, creating a window during which tumor vaccination could prove successful (Cancer Cell 2005); these data have been translated into several clinical trials. 

Using other in vivo models, Drake's laboratory showed that the molecule LAG-3 is relatively over-expressed on non-functional T cells, and that LAG-3 blockade affects T cell function via both Treg dependent and Treg independent mechanisms (JCI 2007). 

More recently, the laboratory was able to show that blocking the immune checkpoints PD-1 and LAG-3 was synergistic in several in vivo cancer models. Drake is also studying the combination of immunotherapy with radiation therapy (RT). Ongoing work in the laboratory is focused on better understanding the mechanisms that underlie T cell non-responsiveness to cancer – using clinical specimens from patients with prostate, kidney and bladder cancer. more


  • Co-Director Prostate Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Clinic
  • Co-director, Cancer Immunology Research Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Co-Director, Bloomberg~Kimmel Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Urology

Departments / Divisions



  • MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine (1997)


  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Medicine (1999)


  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Oncology (2002)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

To date, clinical trials of immunotherapy in patients with solid tumors have been somewhat disappointing, with response rates less than would be predicted by standard transplantable models. It seems increasingly unlikely that immunotherapy alone will prove sufficient to control advanced cancer. Thus, the development of combination strategies involving radiation, chemotherapy, and androgen manipulation as well as immune checkpoint blockade is critical to achieve clinical success. Testing a variety of combination approaches is impractical in the clinic but is achievable using a targeted model approach involving transgenic animals that spontaneously develop prostate cancer. The full genetic characterization of the specific T cells rendered unresponsive by cancer forms the scientific basis for this approach, and has the potential to define new molecular targets and pathways to augment vaccine efficacy. Finally, characterization of patients'' immune response to prostate cancer in the presence or absence of vaccination will determine new cellular targets for vaccination. In summary, the Drake laboratory has undertaken an interactive approach in which discoveries in the laboratory guide clinical trial development, and the results of these trials will feed back to the laboratory to further refine and expand the role of immunotherapy approaches for patients with prostate cancer.

Core Facility: SKCCC Flow Cytometry

Clinical Trials

Phase 3 Clinical Trial for Advanced Stage Prostate Cancer

Learn more about clinical trials at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Zeng J, Harris TJ, Lim M, Drake CG, Tran PT. "Immune Modulation and Stereotactic Radiation: Improving Local and Abscopal Responses." Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:658126. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

Drake CG, Sharma P, Gerritsen W. "Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: new therapies, novel combination strategies and implications for immunotherapy." Oncogene. 2013 Nov 25. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.497. [Epub ahead of print].

Drake CG, Lipson EJ, Brahmer JR. "Breathing new life into immunotherapy: review of melanoma, lung and kidney cancer." Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2014 Jan;11(1):24-37. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.208. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Wada S, Harris TJ, Tryggestad E, Yoshimura K, Zeng J, Yen HR, Getnet D, Grosso JF, Bruno TC, De Marzo AM, Netto GJ, Pardoll DM, DeWeese TL, Wong J, Drake CG. "Combined treatment effects of radiation and immunotherapy: studies in an autochthonous prostate cancer model." Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Nov 15;87(4):769-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.07.015. Epub 2013 Sep 21

Nirschl CJ, Drake CG. ‘Molecular pathways: coexpression of immune checkpoint molecules: signaling pathways and implications for cancer immunotherapy." Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Sep 15;19(18):4917-24. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1972. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Compositions and Methods for Modulating an Immune Response
Patent # WO 2009137095 A2 | 11/12/2009

Compositions and methods for modulating an immune response.

Activities & Honors


  • Scholar Award, V Foundation, 2006
  • Director's Teaching Award in Clinical Science, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, 2006
  • Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator Award, 2004
  • Aventis Fellow, Johns Hopkins Department of Oncology, 2001
  • Clinical Vignette Award, American College of Physicians Student Abstract Competition, 1997
  • Edward Stoiber Scholar Award for Outstanding Scholarship During All Four Medical School Years, 1997
  • Election to Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, 1996
  • E.E. Osgood Award For Highest Ranked Abstract by a Student, Western Society for Clinical Research, 1994
  • Award For Outstanding Research, University of Colorado Student Research Forum, 1993 - 1994
  • Scholarship for Graduate Research, Viola Vestal Coulter Foundation, 1993
  • Deans List, Rutgers University College of Engineering, 1984 - 1985
  • Eta Kappa Nu, Electrical Engineering Honor Society, 1984


  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
  • American Association of Immunology (AAI)
  • American College of Physicians, 1997 - 1999
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Professional Activities

  • Diplomate, American Board of Medical Examiners
    Internal Medicine
  • Diplomate, American Board of Medical Examiners
    Medical Oncology
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