Dr. Rosenberg is chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D. C. He received his B.A. and M.D. degrees at Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard University. After completing his residency training in surgery at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Dr. Rosenberg became chief of surgery at NCI, a position he still holds.
Dr. Rosenberg pioneered the development of immunotherapy that has resulted in the first effective immunotherapies for selected patients with advanced cancer. His studies of cell transfer immunotherapy have resulted in durable complete remissions in patients with metastatic melanoma. He has pioneered the development of gene therapy and was the first to successfully insert foreign genes into humans. His studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes resulted in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanoma, sarcomas and lymphomas.
He has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal in 1981 and 1986, the Friedrich Sasse Prize from the University of West Berlin, Germany in 1986, the Nils Alwell Prize from Stockholm, Sweden in 1987, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from The Johns Hopkins University in 1987, The Griffuel Prize for Research from the French Association for Research on Cancer in 1988 and the Milken Family Foundation Cancer Award in 1988. He twice received the Armand Hammer Cancer Prize “for pioneering work in cancer research,” in 1985 and in 1988. He was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1988, and in 1991 received the Karnofsky Prize, the highest honor given by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He received the John Wayne Award for Clinical Research from the Society of Surgical Oncology in 1996, the Flance-Karl Award, the highest honor accorded by the American Surgical Association in 2002, and in 2003 received the annual prize for scientific excellence in medicine from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation. In 2005 he received the Richard V. Smalley, M.D., Memorial Award, the highest honor given by the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer. In 2010 he received the Karl Landsteiner Prize from the American Association of Blood Banks. In 2012 he won the Keio Medical Science Prize and in 2014, the Massry Prize. He received the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2015.
Dr. Rosenberg is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and served on its board of directors. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Association of Immunologists, among others. He is the author of over 1,100 articles in the scientific literature covering various aspects of cancer research, and has authored eight books.
A 1999 study published by the Institute for Scientific Information revealed that Dr. Rosenberg was the most cited clinician in the world in the field of oncology for the 17 years between 1981 and 1998.