Surgery Branch / Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship


The Surgery Branch, under the direction of Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers the Surgery Branch / Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship for general surgery residents who have completed at least two years of an ACGME accredited general surgery residency. The program provides training in Surgical Oncology, an immersive experience in immunotherapy laboratory research, and clinical human research in early phase trials.  The program is three years and qualifies for the generous NIH Loan Repayment Program. For selected applicants, a two-year program may be available.

Time will be divided among the following:

  • Clinical experience in the care of patients receiving cancer immunotherapy
  • Clinical experience in the operative management of complex cases in Surgical Oncology and Thoracic Surgery.
  • Laboratory research in cancer immunology

Previous residents have successfully matched in competitive subspecialty surgical fellowships such as Complex General Surgical Oncology, Breast Surgery, and Thoracic Surgery.

Training at the NIH Clinical Center

All residents and clinical fellows train at the 240-bed NIH Clinical Center, internationally recognized as the premier hospital dedicated to translational research and clinical care.  Clinical rotations offer fellows the opportunity to have direct experience in the care of the patients enrolled in investigational oncology-related treatment protocols.  Participants will have first-hand exposure to the design, conduct, and management of clinical trials.

All clinical training programs are part of the Graduate Medical Education at NIH.


Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg
Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg

The Surgery Branch / Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship officially began in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg. Dr. Rosenberg became Chief of the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland in 1974. His groundbreaking research in immunotherapy for cancer has transformed the field of oncology. His accomplishments include the clinical development of IL-2, the first successful adoptive cell transfer strategy utilizing tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, the first genetically engineered therapy, and the first successful application of CAR-T cells for the treatment of patients with lymphoma.

Since 1987, general surgery residents have had the opportunity to pursue research fellowships in the Surgery Branch, under the tutelage of Dr. Rosenberg and a senior staff of scientists and surgeon-scientists. The fellowship has allowed young surgeon-scientists to make contributions to a rapidly developing field during a paradigmatic shift in the treatment of patients with cancer. Fellows have gained experience in bench research, clinical trial design, and the complex care of patients on first-in-human trials. Throughout the decades, many former fellows have gone on to become national and international leaders in the fields of surgery and surgical oncology, many now serving as chairs of surgical programs, directors of cancer centers, CEOs of hospital systems, and officers in national societies.

The Surgery Branch / Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship continues to be a unique research fellowship that offers general surgery residents an opportunity to hone the clinical and scientific skills necessary to create tomorrow’s medicine by training in the Surgery Branch under Dr. Rosenberg’s leadership and performing first-in-human clinical research with an immersive bench-to-bedside translational experience.



Multiple educational conferences highlighting the principles of clinical research are integrated throughout the fellowship experience.

Lab Meeting

Presentation of current immunotherapy laboratory research projects in the Surgery Branch.

Immunotherapy Meeting

Clinical immunotherapy fellows and senior staff involved in clinical research trials meet to discuss patients on trials (recruitment, on treatment, and follow-up).

Immunotherapy Fellows’ Journal Club

Fellow-run Immunotherapy Journal Club focusing on seminal and current studies most pertinent to current fellows.

Fellows’ Educational Conferences

Weekly clinical rounds and lecture series throughout the academic year with presentations from NCI faculty addressing the fundamentals of clinical study design and interpretation, design and progress of current NCI clinical trials, and fellow-led debates on current questions in surgical oncology.

NIH-Wide Lecture and Educational Opportunities

Diverse, NIH-wide lecture series focusing on basic science, translational and clinical work as well as traditional classroom educational opportunities in basic and clinical science available through the NIH Graduate School.  Optional and free courses are also offered through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) and the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE).


Abraham (Abe) Hakim, M.D.
2023 - 2026
Lisa Kenney, M.D.
2023 - 2026
Courtney Seavey, M.D.
2023 - 2026
Alexandra (Alex) Gustafson, M.D.
Ali Elsaadi, M.D.
Aaron Dinerman, M.D.
Kyle Hitscherich
Kyle Hitscherich, D.O.
Brad White
Brad White, M.D.
Matthew Sporn
Matthew J. Sporn, M.D.
Paul McClelland
Paul McClelland, M.D.
Shirley Nah
Shirley Nah, M.D.
Neilesh Parikh
Neilesh Parikh, M.D.
Agnes Choi
Agnes Choi, M.D.
Elizabeth Hedges
Elizabeth Hedges, M.D.
Shoshana Levi
Shoshana Levi, M.D.