Scott Abrams


Research Interests:

Defining molecular mechanisms by which lymphocytes kill tumor cells in vivo Identifying tumor escape mechanisms, with emphasis on how the neoplastic process promotes immune suppression Developing novel combination therapies to augment anti-cancer responses

About Scott Abrams


Dr. Scott Abrams is Professor of Oncology in the Department of Immunology and Leader of the Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also holds a joint appointment as Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. He previously served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Immunology Graduate Program at Roswell Park for more than five years during which time he received two awards in graduate education and mentoring and is currently the Program Director/Principal Investigator of the program’s longstanding T32 predoctoral training grant. In 2018, Dr. Abrams received the Roswell Pride in Member Ingenuity (RPMI) Award and, in 2021, was promoted to Distinguished Member in the Department of Immunology.

Dr. Abrams earned his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Immunology at Indiana University in Indianapolis and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, followed by a Senior Staff fellowship and then appointment to Investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, all before joining Roswell Park in 2008. At the NCI, he was honored with five consecutive Performance Awards and was the recipient of six NIH Federal Technology Transfer Awards for the discovery of human T lymphocyte peptide epitopes reflecting ras codon 12 mutations. The identification of such mutated ras peptide sequences also culminated in patent approval in both Europe and the U.S.

Dr. Abrams' research interests reside in tumor immunology, particularly mechanisms of tumor escape and immune suppression, which are actively supported by the National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense. Dr. Abrams serves or has served on multiple grant review panels, including membership on the NIH Tumor Microenvironment (TME) study section, as well as Editorial Boards of several journals in the fields of immunology and cancer immunotherapy. Throughout his career, Dr. Abrams has been invited to deliver seminars and other keynote presentations nationally and internationally and has authored/co-authored more than 150 journal articles, reviews, and book chapters in the areas of tumor biology, immunology, and immunotherapy.


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Distinguished Member and Professor of Oncology
  • Department of Immunology
  • Co-Leader, Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy CCSG Program

State University of New York at Buffalo

  • Research Professor
  • Department of Microbiology and Immunology


Education and Training:

  • PhD - Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN

Professional Memberships:

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • Sigma Xi Society
  • Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer

Honors & Awards:

  • 2018 - Roswell Pride in Member Ingenuity (RPMI) Award
  • 2017 - Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2016 - Graduate Student Association Award for Faculty Excellence in Mentoring and Teaching, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2003–2007 - NCI/NIH Performance Award
  • NIH Federal Technology Transfer Award (x6)


Research Overview:

Dr. Abrams' research focus is in tumor immunology; specifically, how solid tumors impair the normal process of myeloid cell production leading to the generation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) which potently suppress antitumor immunity. Although much attention in this field has been devoted to unraveling mechanisms by which MDSCs mediate such immune suppression, a larger gap has remained in the understanding of the molecular or transcriptional mechanisms that initiate their development. Thus, over the past several years, the Abrams laboratory has been testing the central hypothesis that tumor-induced downregulation of interferon regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) compromises normal myelopoiesis, resulting in myeloproliferative phenotypes heavily characteristic of MDSCs. Emphasis has been placed on IRF8, since IRF8 is well-recognized as a key transcriptional player in normal myeloid cell development and differentiation.

Now published in a series of research articles, including The Journal of Clinical Investigation, his work defines a new paradigm in MDSC biology reflecting early transcriptional cues that profoundly affect MDSC development in neoplastic disease, such as breast cancer. The Abrams Lab has also engaged in a number of collaborations with other Roswell Park investigators reflecting shared research interests. For example, through the newly awarded Roswell Park-UPCI Ovarian Cancer SPORE, Dr. Abrams works with Drs. Odunsi and Moysich to study the association between MDSCs and ovarian cancer prognosis. The long-term goals of his research program are to advance an understanding of how the neoplastic process impairs the host immune response, thereby providing new insights into the design of strategies that can more effectively battle this extraordinarily complex family of diseases.


Full Publications list on PubMed

Tzetzo, S. L., and Abrams, S. I. Redirecting macrophage function to sustain their ‘defender’ antitumor activity. Cancer Cell 2021 Jun 14;39(6):734-737. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2021.03.002. PMCID: PMC8852249

He, X., Zhou, S., Huang, W-C., Seffouh, A., Mabrouk, M. T., Morgan, T. M., Ortega, J., Abrams, S. I.*, and Lovell, J. F.* A potent cancer vaccine adjuvant for particleization of short, synthetic CD8⁺ T cell epitopes. ACS Nano. 2021 Mar 23;15(3):4357-4371. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.0c07680. PMID: 33606514 *Co-senior and co-corresponding authors

Muhitch, J. B., Hoffend, N. C., Azabdaftari, G., Miller, A., Bshara, W., Morrison, C., Schwaab, T., and Abrams, S. I. Tumor-associated macrophage expression of interferon regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) is a predictor of progression and patient survival in renal cell carcinoma. J. Immunother. Cancer. 2019 Jun 20;7(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0630-0. PMCID: PMC6585080

Mastio, J., Condamine, T., Dominguez, G., Kossenkov, A. V., Donthireddy, L., Veglia, F., Lin, C., Wang, F., Fu, S., Zhou, J., Viatour, P., Lavilla-Alonso, S., Polo, A. T., Tcyganov, E .N., Mulligan, C., Jr, Nam, B., Bennett, J., Masters, G., Guarino, M., Kumar, A., Nefedova, Y., Vonderheide, R. H., Languino, L. R., Abrams, S. I., and Gabrilovich, D. I. Identification of monocyte-like precursors of granulocytes as a mechanism of accumulation of PMN-MDSC in cancer. J. Exp. Med. 2019 Sep 2;216(9):2150-2169. doi: 10.1084/jem.20181952. PMCID: PMC6719429

Twum, D. Y. F., Colligan, S. H., Hoffend, N. C., Katsuta, E., Cortes Gomez, E., Hensen, M. L., Mukund Seshadri, M., Nemeth, M. J., and Abrams, S. I. Interferon Regulatory Factor-8 (IRF8) Expression in Macrophages Governs an Anti-Metastatic Program. JCI Insight. 2019 Feb 7;4(3):e124267. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.124267 PMCID: PMC6413790