Brent A. Hanks, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Campus mail 308 Research Drive, Lsrc, Room C203, Durham, NC 27708
Phone (919) 684-1995
Email address

We are interested in understanding the mechanisms that cancers have evolved to suppress the generation of tumor antigen-specific immune responses and how this knowledge can be exploited for the development of novel and more effective cancer immunotherapy strategies. This work involves the utilization of both autochthonous transgenic tumor model systems as well as clinical specimens to develop novel strategies to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapies while also developing predictive biomarkers to better guide the management of cancer patients with these agents. We strive to translate our understanding of the fundamental biochemical and metabolic pathways within the tumor microenvironment that are critical for driving immune evasion and resistance into early phase clinical trial testing.

Our work utilizes a variety of techniques and methodologies that span the breadth of basic biological research. This work integrates studies based on both 1) transgenic mouse tumor models that are monitored using bioluminescence and micro-CT imaging and 2) a variety of clinical specimens.

Our current areas of focus include:

  1. Investigating mechanisms of adaptive or acquired immunotherapy resistance in cancer
  2. Studying the relationship between EMT pathways and immunotherapy resistance.
  3. Elucidating mechanisms of dendritic cell tolerization in the tumor microenvironment and how these processes may contribute to immunotherapy resistance
  4. Development of novel pharmacologic and genetic strategies to overcome immunotherapy resistance
  5. Investigating mechanisms contributing to select immunotherapy-associated toxicities

Education and Training

  • Fellowship, Hematology/Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine, 2008 - 2012
  • Internship and Residency, Internal Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, 2006 - 2008
  • M.D., Baylor College of Medicine, 2006
  • Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, 2004


Isaacs, James, Aaron C. Tan, Brent A. Hanks, Xiaofei Wang, Kouros Owzar, James E. Herndon, Scott J. Antonia, Steven Piantadosi, and Mustafa Khasraw. “Clinical Trials with Biologic Primary Endpoints in Immuno-oncology: Concepts and Usage.” Clin Cancer Res 28, no. 1 (January 1, 2022): 13–22.

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DiMarco, Ashley V., Xiaodi Qin, Brock J. McKinney, Nina Marie G. Garcia, Sarah C. Van Alsten, Elizabeth A. Mendes, Jeremy Force, et al. “APOBEC Mutagenesis Inhibits Breast Cancer Growth through Induction of T cell-Mediated Antitumor Immune Responses.” Cancer Immunol Res 10, no. 1 (January 2022): 70–86.

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Chakraborty, Binita, Jovita Byemerwa, Jonathan Shepherd, Corinne N. Haines, Robert Baldi, Weida Gong, Wen Liu, et al. “Inhibition of estrogen signaling in myeloid cells increases tumor immunity in melanoma.” J Clin Invest 131, no. 23 (December 1, 2021).

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Rhodin, Kristen E., Elizabeth M. Gaughan, Vignesh Raman, April K. Salama, Brent A. Hanks, Riddhishkumar Shah, Douglas S. Tyler, Slingluff Craig L. Jr, and Georgia M. Beasley. “Complete Pathologic Response Predicts Disease-Free Survival for Melanoma Patients Undergoing Neoadjuvant Therapy.” In Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 233:S246–S246, 2021.


Theivanthiran, Balamayooran, Tarek Haykal, Linda Cao, Alisha Holtzhausen, Michael Plebanek, Nicholas C. DeVito, and Brent A. Hanks. “Overcoming Immunotherapy Resistance by Targeting the Tumor-Intrinsic NLRP3-HSP70 Signaling Axis.” Cancers (Basel) 13, no. 19 (September 23, 2021).

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Kennedy, Lucy, Amanda E. D. Van Swearingen, Jeff Sheng, Dadong Zhang, Xiaodi Qin, Eric S. Lipp, Swaminathan Kumar, et al. “An immunogenomic analysis of melanoma brain metastases (MBM) compared to extracranial metastases (ECM).” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, 39:9521–9521. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 2021.

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Atkins, Michael B., Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, David E. Fisher, Susan M. Swetter, Hensin Tsao, Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso, Maria S. Soengas, et al. “The State of Melanoma: Emergent Challenges and Opportunities.” Clin Cancer Res 27, no. 10 (May 15, 2021): 2678–97.

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DeVito, Nicholas C., Michael Sturdivant, Balamayooran Thievanthiran, Christine Xiao, Michael P. Plebanek, April K. S. Salama, Georgia M. Beasley, et al. “Pharmacological Wnt ligand inhibition overcomes key tumor-mediated resistance pathways to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy.” Cell Rep 35, no. 5 (May 4, 2021): 109071.

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Nghiem, Paul, Shailender Bhatia, Evan J. Lipson, William H. Sharfman, Ragini R. Kudchadkar, Andrew S. Brohl, Philip A. Friedlander, et al. “Three-year survival, correlates and salvage therapies in patients receiving first-line pembrolizumab for advanced Merkel cell carcinoma.” J Immunother Cancer 9, no. 4 (April 2021).

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Salama, April K. S., Manisha Palta, Christel N. Rushing, M Angelica Selim, Kristen N. Linney, Brian G. Czito, David S. Yoo, et al. “Ipilimumab and Radiation in Patients with High-risk Resected or Regionally Advanced Melanoma.” Clin Cancer Res 27, no. 5 (March 1, 2021): 1287–95.

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