Michael Paul Cancro, PhD

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

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


Specialty Division

Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology

Research Expertise

Research Interests

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

Research Summary

The Cancro laboratory studies B lymphocyte development, homeostasis and activation. Early work from our lab defined the transitional B cell subset; a developmental stage spanning immature B cell formation in the bone marrow and final maturation in the periphery. In addition, we have made key conceptual and mechanistic contributions towards understanding how the cytokine BLyS (a.k.a. BAFF) and its receptors control peripheral B cell selection and numbers. Most recently, we have focused on our recent discovery of a novel B cell subset that enlarges continuously with age, termed Age Associated B cells (ABCs). Our ongoing studies have revealed that this subset is characterized by the expression of the transcriptional regulator Tbet, and includes a spleen resident memory B cell pool that is key to anti-microbial immunity, but that is also expanded in several autoimmune diseases. Current work is thus aimed at understanding the origins of ABCs, as well as their roles in both protective immunity and autoimmune disease.

Itmat Expertise

B lymphocyte development,
B lymphocyte activation
B lymphocyte tolerance
Immune memory
Autoimmunity, SLE

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
Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmunity Research, 2012
Batsheva de Rothschild Visiting Professorship, 2012
Distinguished Service Award, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, 2019
Distinguished Fellow of the American Association of Immunologists, 2020
American Association of Immunologists Distinguished Lectureship, 2021

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 - 2010
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
University of Virginia School of Medicine, Advisory panel for Training program in Immunology (T32), 2004 - 2010
USAMRMC Breast Cancer Cell Biology Study Section 3, 2004 - 2004
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 - 2018
Alliance for Lupus Research Target Identification in Lupus (TIL) Review Panel, 2008 - 2008
NIH/NIAID: Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense, 2008 - 2008
Arthritis Foundation Research Grant program, 2009 - 2011
NIH/NIAID: Autoimmune Centers of Excellence, 2009 - 2009
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
Multiple Sclerosis Society Fast-Forward Grant program review panel, 2012 - 2012
NIH, NIAID, DAIDS Review panel ZAI1-NVM-I-M for Program initiatives in HIV Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies, 2012 - 2012
NIH, NIAID Special Emphasis Review Panel ZAI1 PA-I (J1) 1 "Autoimmune Centers of Excellence", 2013 - 2013
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
FDA, Division of Biologicals Scientific Advisory and Review Panel, 2014 - 2014
Glaxo Smith-Kline; expert advisory panel on B cell therapeutics (Frankfurt, Germany), 2014 - 2014
University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center. Advisory Panel for program in the Immunology of Aging (formerly at the Trudeau Institute), 2014 - 2019
NIH, NIAID, special panel ZRG1 IMM-H (02) on "Immune mechanisms, 2015 - 2015
NIH, NIAID, Special Emphasis panel ZAI1-PA-I-S1; Human Immune Profiling Consortium program, 2016 - 2016
NIH, NIAMS P50 CORT program Review Panel, 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 - 2021
Rheumafonds (Dutch Arthritis Foundation); Netherlands basic research program, 2016 - 2016
U19 Program in Infectious Disease Immunology; Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, 2016 - 2021
NIH, NIAID, LRP program, Special section ZAI1-AWA-M-S1
autoimmune responses, 2016 - 2016
NIH/NIGMS. 2018/01 ZGM1 TWD-Y (KR) Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2017 - 2017
ZAI1 AZ-M (J1) 1 review panel on Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (R13), 2017 - 2017
NIH.NIAID Special Emphasis Panel for RFA AI 17-037 “Immunity in the elderly (Clinical Trial Optional) (R01)”, 2018 - 2018
NIH, NIGMS ZGM1 TWD-8 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2018 - 2018
NIH/CSR AARR (Aids Related Research) Special Emphasis Panel ZRG1 AARR-P (03), 2018 - 2018
2018/02 ZGM1 TWD-8 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2018 - 2018
NIH/NIAID Special Emphasis Panel “Cooperative Centers in Human Immunology “ (Chairperson), 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
Glaxo Smith Kline, Expert Panel on combination therapies in autoimmunity. London, UK, 2018 - 2018
NIH, NIGMS ZGM1 TWD-8 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2019 - 2019
CDMRP, DOD Lupus Research Program Impact Award review panel (member), 2019 - 2019
NIH, NIGMS ZGM1 (KR). Review panel for NIH Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Applications, 2019 - 2019
NIH/CSR ZRG1 BDCN A(50)R Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Panel, 2019 - 2019
NIH, CSR, Aging systems and Geriatrics study section, 2019 - 2019
NIH, NIAID Neonatal Immunity special emphasis review panel, 2019 - 2019
NIH/NIAID ZAI1 RG-W(S3) Emergency Awards Rapid Investigation of SARS-CoV2 and COVID19 Special Emphasis Panel (August), 2020 - 2020
NIH/CSR ZRG1 BDCN-B (55): Juvenile Protective Factors and Their Effects On Aging, 2020 - 2020
NIH, NIAID NIH/NIAID ZAI1 RG-W(S1) Emergency Awards Rapid Investigation of SARS-CoV2 and COVID19 Special Emphasis Panel (June), 2020 - 2020
NIAID, NIH New Innovators Award (DP2) review panel, 2020 - 2020
NIH/NIAID Immune development in early life (IDEAL) program Review panel, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIDD Pathway to independence award (K99/R00) review panel, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIGMS Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 Review Panel, 2021 - 2021
Austrian Research Foundation; Excellence in vaccine development program, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIAID New Innovators Award (DP2) review panel, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIAMS Centers of Research Translation (CORT) Review panel, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIAID Human Immune Profiling Consortium (HIPC) Program Review Panel, 2021 - 2021
Lupus Research Alliance Global Team Science Award Review panel, 2021 - 2021
NIH/NIAID New Innovators Award (DP2) review panel, 2022 - 2022

Web Links

Selected Publications

T-bet enables tissue-restricted B cell memory and influenza hemagglutinin stalk-specific antibodies

Johnson JL, Rosenthal RL, Knox JJ, Myles A, Naradikian MS, Madej J, Kostiv M, Rosenfeld AM, Meng W, Christensen SR, Hensley SE, Yewdell J, Canaday DH, Zhu J, McDermott AB, Dori Y, Itkin M, Wherry EJ, Pardi N, Weissman D, Naji A, Luning Prak ET, Betts MR, Cancro MP, Immunity 52(): 842-855, 2020

Age-associated B Cells

Cancro, MP, Annual Reviews of Immunology 38(): 315-340, 2020

Molecular pattern recognition in peripheral B cell tolerance: lesson from Age associated B Cells

Johnson JL, Scholz, JL, Marshak-Rothstein A, Cancro MP., Curr Opin Immunol 61(): 33-38, 2019

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

IL-21 drives expansion and plasma cell differentiation of autoreactive CD11chiT-bet+ B cells in SLE

Wang S , Wang J, Kumar V, Karnell J, Naiman B , Phillip S. Gross, Saifur Rahman, Kamelia Zerrouki, Hanna R, Morehouse C, Holoweckyj N, Liu H, Autoimmunity Mol Med Team, Manna, Z Goldbach-Mansky R, Wilson M, Hasni S, Siegel R, Sanjuan M, Streicher K, Cancro MP, Kolbeck, R and Ettinger, R, Nature Communications 9(): 1758, 2018

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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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

Signalling crosstalk in B cells: managing worth and need

Cancro MP, Nat Rev Immunol. 9(9): 657-661, 2009, PMID:19704418

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Space, selection, and surveillance: setting boundaries with BLyS

Miller JP, Stadanlick JE, Cancro MP, J. Immunol. 176(11): 6405-10, 2006, PMID:16709796

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