Leonid Cherkassky

Surgical Oncology

Cancers Treated:

Specializing In:

Immunotherapy Liver Surgery, including resection of colorectal liver metastases Pancreatic Surgery Bile duct Surgery Colorectal Surgery

Research Interests:

T-cell immunotherapy Genetic engineering to prevent CAR T -cell exhaustion Overcoming T-cell suppression by myeloid cells T-cell cargo delivery to target cells

About Leonid Cherkassky


I am a surgical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with gastrointestinal benign and cancerous disease, with a special focus on liver, bile duct, gallbladder, pancreas, and colorectal cancer. My passion is to work with my colleagues to provide multidisciplinary care, combining surgery with other modalities so our patients can become long-term cancer survivors. My personal role is to provide experienced surgical care for our patients, including minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic approaches for complex pancreatic and liver surgeries to allow faster patient recovery. I also lead our program in surgical implantation of hepatic arterial infusion pumps to treat patients with colorectal liver metastases. I pride myself in providing each patient with the utmost attention to detail and giving care in a speedy, efficient way to ease anxiety and optimize outcomes.

In addition to caring for patients, I conduct laboratory and translational research within the Department of Translational Immuno-Oncology to develop T cell therapies for the treatment of pancreas, liver, bile duct, and colorectal cancers. Even when these cancers are able to be surgically removed, there is often disease that has already spread that can lead to the cancer coming back (‘relapse’). My goal is to combine surgery with immunotherapy to both remove the tumor and treat any disease that has already spread prevent relapse. I focus specifically on developing gene-engineered T cell therapies, a type of immunotherapy where we take T cells and ‘teach’ them to recognize cancer cells. This is done by putting genetic material into T cells (‘gene-engineer’) so they can express a receptor that allows them to attack and kill cancer cells. Since T cells can persist for a long time (form ‘memory’), they have particular promise for treating metastatic cancers, and preventing cancer relapse after surgery. My work has received support from the Department of Defense, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy.

Lab Members:
Dinesh Dahiya PhD
Saborni Chattopadhyay PhD


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Assistant Professor of Oncology
  • Department of Surgical Oncology
  • Department of Translational Immuno-Oncology


Education and Training:

  • 2004-2009 - MD - Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio


  • 2009-2017 - General Surgery, Brown University, Providence, RI


  • 2011-2014 - Research fellowship, T cell immunotherapy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
  • 2017-2019 - Clinical fellowship, Complex General Surgical Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

Board Certification:

  • 2020 – Board Certified Complex General Surgical Oncology
  • 2018 - Board Certified General Surgery

Professional Memberships:

  • Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO)
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer

Honors & Awards:

  • 2019 Young Investigator Award, Conquer Cancer Foundation/American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • 2016 Cover of Journal of Clinical Investigation T cell therapy to treat solid tumors
  • 2012 American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship
  • 2008 American Society of Nephrology Student Scholar Grant


Full Publications list on PubMed
  • Cherkassky L, D'Angelica M. Gallbladder Cancer: Managing the Incidental Diagnosis. Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 2019 Oct;28(4):619-630. doi: 10.1016/j.soc.2019.06.005. PMID: 31472909.
  • Cherkassky L, Jarnagin W. Selecting treatment sequence for patients with incidental gallbladder cancer: a neoadjuvant approach versus upfront surgery. Updates Surg. 2019 Jun;71(2):217-225. doi: 10.1007/s13304-019-00670-z. Epub 2019 Jun 28. PMID: 31254234.
  • Cherkassky L, Morello A, Villena-Vargas J, Feng Y, Dimitrov DS, Jones DR, Sadelain M, Adusumilli PS. Human CAR T cells with cell-intrinsic PD-1 checkpoint blockade resist tumor-mediated inhibition. J Clin Invest. 2016 Aug 1;126(8):3130-44. doi: 10.1172/JCI83092. Epub 2016 Jul 25. PMID: 27454297; PMCID: PMC4966328.
  • Adusumilli PS, Cherkassky L, Villena-Vargas J, Colovos C, Servais E, Plotkin J, Jones DR, Sadelain M. Regional delivery of mesothelin-targeted CAR T cell therapy generates potent and long-lasting CD4-dependent tumor immunity. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Nov 5;6(261):261ra151. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010162. PMID: 25378643; PMCID: PMC4373413.
  • Cherkassky L, Lanning M, Lalli PN, Czerr J, Siegel H, Danziger-Isakov L, Srinivas T, Valujskikh A, Shoskes DA, Baldwin W, Fairchild RL, Poggio ED. Evaluation of alloreactivity in kidney transplant recipients treated with antithymocyte globulin versus IL-2 receptor blocker. Am J Transplant. 2011 Jul;11(7):1388-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03540.x. Epub 2011 May 12. PMID: 21564525; PMCID: PMC3226763.