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Leisha Ann Emens, M.D., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Leisha Ann Emens, M.D., Ph.D.

Member, Tumor Immunology Research Program

Associate Professor of Oncology


Expertise: Breast Cancer, Medical Oncology

Research Interests: Mechanisms of immune regulation in the breast and ovarian tumor microenvironment

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

401 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231 map
Phone: 410-502-7051
Fax: 410-614-8216


Leisha A. Emens, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and a member of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

After receiving her B.A. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California at San Diego, she spent two years in industry at Hybritech, Incorporated, a monoclonal antibody company. She then joined the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Baylor College of Medicine, pursuing graduate work in immunology and cell biology. At Baylor, Dr. Emens served on the operating committee of the MSTP, and was named to the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical honor society. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in oncology at the National Cancer Institute in 1993, and internal medicine residency training at the University of Texas at Southwestern before joining the fellowship programs in hematology and oncology at Johns Hopkins University in 1998. She trained in tumor immunology as a senior clinical and research fellow before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 2001.

Dr. Emens is currently board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. She is a medical oncologist with an outpatient service focused on breast cancer, and is internationally recognized for her work in breast cancer immunotherapy. She has identified novel immune-modulating activities associated with targeted cancer drugs in preclinical models, and developed synergistic immunotherapy combinations. She translates the most promising immunotherapy strategies for breast cancer to the clinic, and is now extending these strategies to ovarian cancer.

Dr. Emens currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). She served as chair of the Clinical Research Committee at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. She serves on the scientific advisory boards of MolecuVax and eTheRNA. She is a former member the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is currently on the editorial board of Cancer Research and the Breast Journal. She serves as section editor for Journal for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (JITC), the voice of SITC. She is a former Chair of both the Communications Committee and the Stakeholder’s Council for SITC, and remains on the SITC Stakeholder’s Council. Dr. Emens was a member of the FDA Advisory Committee on Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies (CTGTC) 2012-2016, and remains an advisor to the FDA. She is an active member of ASCO, AACR, and SITC, and is a member of the Cancer Immunology (CIMM) Working Group of the AACR. Dr. Emens was awarded the President’s Award by the YWCA of Greater Baltimore and the Maryland Governor’s Citation for her work. more


  • Member, Tumor Immunology Research Program
  • Member, Breast Cancer Research Program
  • Associate Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions



  • MD, Baylor College of Medicine (1995)


  • University of Texas / Internal Medicine (1998)


  • National Cancer Institute (1993)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Oncology (2001)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Internal Medicine (1998)
  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Medical Oncology (2001)

Research & Publications

Clinical Trial Keywords

Breast cancer, Vaccine

Selected Publications

Emens, LA, Asquith, JM, Leatherman, JM, Kobrin, BJ, Petrik S, Laiko, M, Biedrzycki, B, Abeloff, MA, Wolff, AC, Stearns, V, Disis, ML, Ye, Xiaobu, Piantadosi, S, Fetting, JH, Davidson, NE, Jaffee, EM. 2009. Timed sequential treatment with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and an allogeneic granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-secreting breast tumor vaccine: a chemotherapy dose-ranging study of safety and immune activation. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 27: 5911-5918 PMCID:PMC2793039.

Manning, EA, Ullman, JGM, Leatherman, JM, Asquith, JM, Hansen, TR, Armstrong TD, Hicklin, DJ, Jaffee, EM, Emens, LA. 2007. A vascular endothelial growth factor-2 receptor inhibitor enhances anti-tumor immunity through an immune-based mechanism. Clinical Cancer Research, 13: 3951-3959. PMID:17606729, cover feature/ subject of accompanying editorial.

Ercolini, AM, Ladle, BH, Manning EM, Pfannenstiel LW, Armstrong, TD, Machiels, JP, Bieler, JG, Emens, LA, Reilly, RT, Jaffee, EM. 2005. Recruitment of latent pools of high avidity CD8+ T cells to the antitumor immune response. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 201: 1591-1602 PMID:15883172.

Machiels, J-P, Reilly, RT, Emens, LA, Ercolini, AM, Okoye, F, Jaffee, EM. 2001. Cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and paclitaxel enhance the antigen-specific anti-tumor immune response of GM-CSF-secreting whole cell vaccines in tolerized mice. Cancer Research 61: 3689. PMID: 11325840.

Chen, G, Gupta, R, Petrik, S, Laiko, M, Leatherman, JM, Asquith, JM, Daphtary, MM, Garrett-Mayer, E, Kobrin, B, Davidson, NE, Dauses, T, Atay-Rosenthal, S, Ye, X, Wolff, AC, Stearns, V, Jaffee, EM, Emens LA. 2014. A Feasibility Study of Cyclophosphamide, Trastuzumab, and an Allogeneic GM-CSF-secreting Breast Tumor Vaccine for HER-2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer. Cancer Immunology Research, 2(10): 949-961. PMID: 25116755.

Activities & Honors


  • Alpha Omega Alpha, Medical Honor Society, 1995
  • Clinician Scientist Award, 2003
  • Research Scholar Award, American Cancer Society, 2006
  • Presidents Award for Professional Leadership, YWCA of Greater Baltimore, 2009
  • Maryland Governors Citation, 2009


  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Society for Clinical Oncology
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group
  • International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer

Patient Ratings & Comments

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