Michael Paul Cancro, PhD

Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Contact Information284 John Morgan Building
3620 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 898-8067
Fax: (215) 573-2350


Specialty Division

Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology

Research Expertise

Research Interests

B lymphocyte development, selection, and homeostasis; immunobiology of aging.

Research Summary

The size and makeup of mature B cell compartments is controlled by the proportion of immature B cells that complete differentiation, coupled with the average lifespan of mature B cells. Determining the selective and homeostatic factors controlling these parameters is thus key to understanding how the B cell repertoire is established and maintained. Our previous work defined the developmental stages spanning immature B cell formation in the marrow and final maturation in the periphery. More recently, we have focused on the molecular basis for survival and differentiation within these developmental subsets, with emphasis on the role of BLyS and BLyS receptors. Through developmental and kinetic studies in normal and mutant mice, we have found that BLyS controls peripheral B cell numbers in two ways: by varying the proportion of cells that complete transitional B cell development, and by serving as the primary determinant of mature follicular B cell lifespan. Ongoing studies are aimed at determining the molecular and cellular mechanism of BLyS activity in these subsets, as well as how BLyS responsiveness is integrated with BCR signaling. Additionally, we have begun studies of how these selective and homeostatic processes change with age. Our results indicate that the size and dynamics of most B cell subsets shift with age, suggesting age-associated alterations in both intrinsic and microenvironmental factors that govern these processes.

Graduate Groups



B.S. (Zoology), University of Maryland College Park, 1973
Ph.D. (Zoology/Genetics), University of Maryland College Park, 1976
Postdoc (Immunology), University of Pennsylvania, 1977

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, 1976-1978

Awards and Honors

AAI Junior Investigator Travel Award, 1980
Berwick Award for Medical Teaching, 1984
Masters of Arts (Honorary), University of Pennsylvania, 1984
Research Career Development Award (K04, NIAID), 1985-1989
Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, 1986
Louis R. Dinon Teaching Award, 1987
Distinguished Basic Science Educator Award, 1989
Louis R. Dinon Teaching Award (2nd receipt), 1990
Peter C. Nowell Teaching Award, 1990
Elected Member, Henry Kunkel Society, 2006
Elected member, John Morgan Society, 2010
Simon Flexner Award for Graduate Student Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2011
Batsheva de Rothschild Visiting Professorship, 2012
Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmunity Research, 2012

Memberships and Professional Organizations

International Society for Developmental and Comparative Immunology, 1978 - present
American Association of Immunologists, 1978 - present
Allergy and Immunology (ALY, now CMI-A) Study Section, 1984 - 2000
Immunological Sciences (IMS, now TTT) Study Section, 1985 - 1988
Education Committee, American Association of Immunologists, 1988 - 1992
ZRG SSS-4 Special Emphasis Study Section, 1990 - 2000
Immunobiology (IMB, now CMI-B) Study Section, 1990 - present
Liason Committee on Medical Education (Accrediting body of AAMC), 1992 - 1993
AIDS Special Study Section, 1996 - 1998
Henry Kunkel Society, 2000 - Present
USAMRMC Breast Cancer Cell Biology Study Section 3, 2002 - 2003
Publications committee, American Association of Immunologists, 2004 - 2007
USAMRMC Breast Cancer Cell Biology Study Section 3, 2004 - 2004
University of Virginia School of Medicine, Advisory panel for Training program in Immunology (T32), 2004 - 2010
NIH/NIAID: F07 Study Section, 2005 - 2008
Trudeau Institute; Advisory Panel for program in the Immunology of Aging, 2006 - 2012
Lupus Research Alliance, 2006 - present
Aging Systems and Geriatrics (ASG) Study Section, 2008 - present
NIH/NIAID: Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense, 2008 - 2008
Alliance for Lupus Research Target Identification in Lupus (TIL) Review Panel, 2008 - 2008
NIH/NIAID: Autoimmune Centers of Excellence, 2009 - 2009
Arthritis Foundation Research Grant program, 2009 - 2011
College of CSR Reviewers (NIH), 2010 - present
Faculty of 1000, 2010 - present
NIH/NIAID: Protection of Human Health by Immunology and Vaccines (ZAI1 QV-I Study Section), 2010 - 2010
NIH, NIAID, Special emphasis review panel ZAI1-DR-A-M2, 2012 - 2012
NIH, NIAID, DAIDS Review panel ZAI1-NVM-I-M for Program initiatives in HIV Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies, 2012 - 2012
Multiple Sclerosis Society Fast-Forward Grant program review panel, 2012 - 2012
NIH, NIAID Special Emphasis review panel for Cooperative Centers on Human Immunology (ZAI1-LAR-I-J1), 2013 - 2013
NIH, NIA, NIAIA Review panel ZAI1-LAR-I B cells in healthy aging, 2013 - 2013
NIH, NIAID Special Emphasis Review Panel ZAI1 PA-I (J1) 1 "Autoimmune Centers of Excellence", 2013 - 2013
University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center. Advisory Panel for program in the Immunology of Aging (formerly at the Trudeau Institute), 2014 - 2019
Glaxo Smith-Kline; expert advisory panel on B cell therapeutics (Frankfurt, Germany), 2014 - 2014
FDA, Division of Biologicals Scientific Advisory and Review Panel, 2014 - 2014
NIH, NIAID, special panel ZRG1 IMM-H (02) on "Immune mechanisms, 2015 - 2015
NIH, NIAID Special Emphasis review panel for "Human Immunology Project Consortia (U19)" Panel #ZAI1 LGR-I M1 1, 2015 - 2015
NIH, NIAID, DAIDS special review panel ZAI1 JKB-A (J2) 1 "Innovation for HIV Vaccine Discovery", 2015 - 2015
Rheumafonds (Dutch Arthritis Foundation); Netherlands basic research program, 2016 - 2016
NIH, NIAMS P50 CORT program Review Panel, 2016 - 2016
NIH, NIAID, Special Emphasis panel ZAI1-PA-I-S1; Human Immune Profiling Consortium program, 2016 - 2016
NIH, NIAID, ZAI1 NVM-I (J1) 1 Immunity in neonates and infants (U01) review panel, 2016 - 2016
Training Programs in Immunology, Microbiology and Rheumatology (T32). University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham AL, 2016 - Present
NIH, NIAID, LRP program, Special section ZAI1-AWA-M-S1
autoimmune responses, 2016 - 2016
U19 Program in Infectious Disease Immunology; Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, 2016 - present
ZAI1 AZ-M (J1) 1 review panel on Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (R13), 2017 - 2017
NIH/NIGMS. 2018/01 ZGM1 TWD-Y (KR) Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2017 - 2017
NIH/CSR AARR (Aids Related Research) Special Emphasis Panel ZRG1 AARR-P (03), 2018 - 2018
Glaxo Smith Kline, Expert Panel on combination therapies in autoimmunity. London, UK, 2018 - 2018
NIH.NIAID Special Emphasis Panel for RFA AI 17-037 “Immunity in the elderly (Clinical Trial Optional) (R01)”, 2018 - 2018
2018/02 ZGM1 TWD-8 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2018 - 2018
ZRG1 BDCN-B (55) Review panel for Dynamic Interactions between Systemic or Non-Neuronal Systems and the Brain in Aging and in Alzheimer’s Disease, 2018 - 2018
NIH/NIAID Special Emphasis Panel “Cooperative Centers in Human Immunology “ (Chairperson), 2018 - 2018
2018/05 ZGM1 TWD-8 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2018 - 2018
NIH/CSR ZRG1 BDCN A(50)R Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Panel, 2019 - Present

Web Links

Selected Publications

Age Associated B cells: Key mediators of both protective and autoreactive humoral responses

Naradikian, MS, Hao, Y and Cancro MP, Immunol. Rev. 269(1): 118-129, 2016, PMID:26683149

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A TLR9-dependent checkpoint governs B cell responses to DNA-containing antigens

Sindhava, VJ, Oropallo, MA, Moody, K, Naradikian, M, Higdon, LE, Zhou, L, Myles, A, Green, N, Nündel, K, Stohl, W, Schmidt, AM, Cao, W Dorta-Estremera, S, Kambayashi, T Marshak-Rothstein, A, Cancro, MP, J Clin Invest 127(5): 1651-1663, 2017

Cutting Edge: IL4, IL21, and IFNγ interact to govern TBET and CD11c expression in TLR-activated B cells

Naradikian, MS, Myles, A, Beiting, DP, Roberts, K, Dawson L, Herati, R, Bengsch, B, Linderman, S, Stelekati, E, Spolski, R, Wherry, EJ, Hunter, C, Hensley, S, Leonard, W, and Cancro MP, J. Immunol 197(4): 1023-1028, 2016, PMID:27430719

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Age-associated B cells express a diverse repertoire of VH and V genes with somatic hypermutation

Russell Knode, LM, Naradikian,MS, Myles, A, Scholz, JL, Hao,Y, Liu,D, Ford,ML, Tobias J, Michael P. Cancro,MP , Gearhart, PA, J Immunol 198(): 1921-1927, 2017

A B cell subset uniquely responsive to innate stimuli accumulates in aged mice

Hao Y, O’Neill P, Naradikian MS, Scholz JL, Cancro MP, Blood 118(5): 1294-304, 2011, PMID:21562046

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Competition for BLyS-mediated signaling through Bcmd/BR3 regulates peripheral B lymphocyte numbers

Harless SM, Lentz VM, Sah AP, Hsu BL, Clise-Dwyer K, Hilbert DM, Hayes CE, Cancro MP, Curr Biol. 11(24): 1986-1989, 2001, PMID:11747827

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Resolve, revise, and relax: The 3 Rs of B cell repertoire adjustment

Scholz JL, Cancro MP, Immunol Lett. 143(1): 2-8, 2012, PMID:22330846

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BLyS-mediated modulation of naive B cell subsets impacts HIV Env-induced antibody responses

Dosenovic P, Soldemo M, Scholz JL, O'Dell S, Grasset EK, Pelletier N, Karlsson MC, Mascola JR, Wyatt RT, Cancro MP, Karlsson Hedestam GB, J Immunol. 188(12): 6018-26, 2012, PMID:22561155

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Local BLyS production by T follicular cells mediates retention of high affinity B cells during affinity maturation

Goenka R, Matthews AH, Zhang B, O’Neill PJ, Scholz JL, Migone T-S, Leonard WJ, Stohl W, Hershberg U, Cancro MP, J. Exp. Med. 211(): 45-56, 2014

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