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Christopher Jordan Gamper, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Oncology
Expertise: Bone Marrow Transplant, Medical Oncology, Pediatric Oncology, Pediatrics
Research Interests: T cell differentiation; Immunotherapy
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The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)
Appointment Phone: 443-287-6997
1800 Orleans St.
Bloomberg Children's Center
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
When it comes to discussing the realities of current cancer therapies, Christopher Gamper, M.D., PhD., doesn't mince words. "Conventional therapy knocks down the immune response. In a way, what we do to treat patients directly subverts what we're trying to accomplish," he says matter-of-factly, referring to the immune-suppressing effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
It's a grim reality that Dr. Gamper refuses to accept lightly. In fact, he's chosen to dedicate his research in pediatric oncology to finding alternate, less toxic methods of treating cancer. Subsequently, he's honing in on immunotherapy—a method of treatment that focuses on triggering the body's immune system to recognize and respond to cancerous cells.
Though it sounds like a fairly straightforward concept, Dr. Gamper cautions that immunology, as well as patients' response to it, is an extremely complex matter. "We take the immune system for granted, but the actual sophistication behind this seemingly mundane thing is incredibly complicated," Dr. Gamper says.
Applying immunology to patients with cancer is particularly daunting, Dr. Gamper explains, because their systems are already immune-suppressed. "The trick," he says, "is how to uncover chinks in the armor, so to speak, so we can turn off the defense mechanism of tumors."
While researching new ways to treat cancer, Dr. Gamper also focuses on improving how existing therapies are administered. "We want to do what we can to spare toxicity [inherent in chemotherapy treatment]—not just to have patients survive cancer," he says.
This pursuit involves analyzing genetic differences that may explain why not all patients respond similarly to chemotherapy. "Some patients exhibit an excellent response rate to treatment. Others may have a genetic factor that predisposes them to a high rate of relapse. We're looking at changes in therapy based on these differences," Dr. Gamper says.
As he soldiers on to find treatments that are less toxic and ultimately more effective for children with cancer, Dr. Gamper is buoyed by the strength of the families he encounters. "They say to us, 'I want to help other people in the world learn more.'" He believes that it's this spirit of generosity, whereby parents enroll their children in clinical trials knowing they personally may not reap the benefits, that has hastened the progress of pediatric oncology.
"Scientific progress has exploded: our understanding of genetic underpinnings, the potential for treatments to turn off genetic switches. We're just beginning to incorporate these new strategies that hold out the most hope," Dr. Gamper says.
- Assistant Professor of Oncology
Departments / Divisions
- Oncology - Pediatric Oncology
- MD PhD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surg (2001)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Pediatrics (2004)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Pediatric Oncology (2008)
- American Board of Pediatrics / Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (2009)
- American Board of Pediatrics / Pediatrics (2004, 2016)
Research & Publications
Gamper, CJ, Chen, AL. BMT for Immune Deficiency and Genetic Disorders. Clinical Decision Support System on Hematology. 2011.
Gamper CJ, Powell JD. Genetic and Biochemical Regulation of CD4 T cell Effector Differentiation: Insights from Examination of T cell Clonal Anergy. Immunologic Research 2010;47(1-3):162-71. PMC2892254.
Gamper CJ, Powell JD. mTOR. Encyclopedia of Medical Immunology (online). 2012 in press.
Gamper CJ, Powell JD. All PI3Kinase signaling is not mTOR: dissecting mTOR-dependent and independent signaling pathways in T cells. Frontiers in Immunology 2012; 3:312. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00312. PMC3466461.
Academic Affiliations & Courses
Courses and Syllabi
Classroom Instruction 10/06 – present Small group leader, Immunology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Clinical Instruction 7/07 – 6/08 Morbidity & Mortality Coordinator, Pediatric Oncology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Helped choose cases and supervise fellows presentations at Pediatric and Medical Oncology monthly M&M presentations
3/11 – present Small group leader, Genes to Society, Leukemia, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
CME Instruction 8/09 – 6/14 Organizer, Pediatric Oncology Case Conference, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Weekly multi-disciplinary conference held with Radiations Oncology, Pediatric Surgery, Radiology, and Pathology to review diagnostic studies and treatment planning for all active patients in the division; Didactic presentations by the fellows on service
Activities & Honors
- Hyundai Scholar, 2008
- 2008 – 2009 Hyundai Scholar, $40,000 award for support of Pediatric Oncology research, Hyundai Motor Corporation
- 2009 – 2011 Cash Scholar, $36,000 per year, award for support of Pediatric Oncology research, Jonas Cash Foundation
- 2010 – 2011 Hyundai Scholar, $60,000 award for support of Pediatric Oncology research, Hyundai Motor Corporation
- 2012 SKCCC Director’s Teaching Award in Clinical Science
- 2013 – 2014 Hyundai Scholar, $75,000 award for support of Pediatric Oncology research, Hyundai Motor Corporation
- ASCO, 2007
- COG, 2008
- American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 2010