P. Brent Ferrell, Jr., M.D.

Assistant Professor

Faculty Appointments
Assistant Professor of Medicine
M.D., University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North CarolinaB.A., Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina
Research Description
The primary goal of our lab’s research is to improve our understanding of hematologic malignancies in general, and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in particular, by using single cell approaches for therapeutic discovery. A focus of my research has been to use clinical samples collected at different time points during therapy to understand contributors to disease relapse and therapy resistance. We use a multimodal approach to understand how single cell and bulk leukemia signaling, epigenetics and gene expression affect these outcomes. Other projects in the lab include investigation novel natural products in AML, dissection of innate immune signaling in MDS, and characterization of cellular changes in AML from diagnosis to relapse.
Clinical Description
I care for patients with hematologic malignancies at the Nashville Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). I also participate and lead clinical trials in our Hematology Early Therapeutics Program at VUMC.
Research Keywords
acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, cell signaling, systems biology, mass cytometry, flow cytometry, single cell biology, immuno-oncology, anti-leukemic immunity
Clinical Research Keywords
hematologic malignancies, acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, phase I clinical trials
Davis EJ, Salem JE, Young A, Green JR, Ferrell PB, Ancell KK, Lebrun-Vignes B, Moslehi JJ, Johnson DB. Hematologic Complications of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors. Oncologist [print-electronic]. 2019 Feb 2/28/2019; PMID: 30819785, PII: theoncologist.2018-0574, DOI: 10.1634/theoncologist.2018-0574, ISSN: 1549-490X.

Greenplate AR, McClanahan DD, Oberholtzer BK, Doxie DB, Roe CE, Diggins KE, Leelatian N, Rasmussen ML, Kelley MC, Gama V, Siska PJ, Rathmell JC, Ferrell PB, Johnson DB, Irish JM. Computational Immune Monitoring Reveals Abnormal Double-Negative T Cells Present across Human Tumor Types. Cancer Immunol Res [print-electronic]. 2019 Jan; 7(1): 86-99. PMID: 30413431, PMCID: PMC6318034, PII: 2326-6066.CIR-17-0692, DOI: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-17-0692, ISSN: 2326-6074.

Johnson DB, Nixon MJ, Wang Y, Wang DY, Castellanos E, Estrada MV, Ericsson-Gonzalez PI, Cote CH, Salgado R, Sanchez V, Dean PT, Opalenik SR, Schreeder DM, Rimm DL, Kim JY, Bordeaux J, Loi S, Horn L, Sanders ME, Ferrell PB, Xu Y, Sosman JA, Davis RS, Balko JM. Tumor-specific MHC-II expression drives a unique pattern of resistance to immunotherapy via LAG-3/FCRL6 engagement. JCI Insight. 2018 Dec 12/20/2018; 3(24): PMID: 30568030, PMCID: PMC6338319, PII: 120360, DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.120360, ISSN: 2379-3708.

Ivy KS, Brent Ferrell P. Disordered Immune Regulation and its Therapeutic Targeting in Myelodysplastic Syndromes. Curr Hematol Malig Rep [print-electronic]. 2018 Jun 6/22/2018; PMID: 29934935, PII: 10.1007/s11899-018-0463-9, DOI: 10.1007/s11899-018-0463-9, ISSN: 1558-822X.

Earl DC, Ferrell PB Jr., Leelatian N, Froese JT, Reisman BJ, Irish JM, Bachmann BO. Discovery of human cell selective effector molecules using single cell multiplexed activity metabolomics. Nat Comm. c2018 Jan 1/2/2018; 9(1): 39. PMID: 29295987.

Roussel M, Ferrell PB, Greenplate AR, Lhomme F, Le Gallou S, Diggins KE, Johnson DB, Irish JM. Mass cytometry deep phenotyping of human mononuclear phagocytes and myeloid-derived suppressor cells from human blood and bone marrow. J. Leukoc. Biol [print-electronic]. 2017 Apr 4/11/2017; PMID: 28400539, PII: jlb.5MA1116-457R, DOI: 10.1189/jlb.5MA1116-457R, ISSN: 1938-3673.

Greenplate AR, Johnson DB, Ferrell PB, Irish JM. Systems immune monitoring in cancer therapy. Eur. J. Cancer [print-electronic]. 2016 Jul; 61: 77-84. PMID: 27155446, PMCID: PMC4885747, PII: S0959-8049(16)32047-0, DOI: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.03.085, ISSN: 1879-0852.

Greenplate AR, Johnson DB, Roussel M, Savona MR, Sosman JA, Puzanov I, Ferrell PB, Irish JM. Myelodysplastic Syndrome Revealed by Systems Immunology in a Melanoma Patient Undergoing Anti-PD-1 Therapy. Cancer Immunol Res [print-electronic]. 2016 Jun; 4(6): 474-80. PMID: 26966176, PMCID: PMC4891280, PII: 2326-6066.CIR-15-0213, DOI: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-15-0213, ISSN: 2326-6074.

Ferrell PB, Diggins KE, Polikowsky HG, Mohan SR, Seegmiller AC, Irish JM. High-Dimensional Analysis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Reveals Phenotypic Changes in Persistent Cells during Induction Therapy. PLoS ONE. 2016; 11(4): e0153207. PMID: 27074138, PMCID: PMC4830605, PII: PONE-D-15-20447, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153207, ISSN: 1932-6203.

Diggins KE, Ferrell PB, Irish JM. Methods for discovery and characterization of cell subsets in high dimensional mass cytometry data. Methods [print-electronic]. 2015 Jul 7/1/2015; 82: 55-63. PMID: 25979346, PMCID: PMC4468028, PII: S1046-2023(15)00199-1, DOI: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2015.05.008, ISSN: 1095-9130.

Ferrell PB, McLeod HL. Carbamazepine, HLA-B*1502 and risk of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis: US FDA recommendations. Pharmacogenomics. 2008 Oct; 9(10): 1543-6. PMID: 18855540, PMCID: PMC2586963, DOI: 10.2217/14622416.9.10.1543, ISSN: 1744-8042.

Available Postdoctoral Position Details
Posted: 10/4/2018

Postdoctoral opportunities in Leukemia and Bone Marrow Inflammation:

Position: The Ferrell Lab (https://medsites.mc.vanderbilt.edu/ferrelllab) is seeking a highly skilled, motivated and energetic post-doctoral fellow to conduct disease-focused research in myelodysplastic syndromes, acute myeloid leukemia and bone marrow immunology/inflammation. The position comes with competitive salary and excellent potential for career development. 

Requirements: Qualified candidates should have strong fund of knowledge in cancer biology and/or immunology and have experience in several (but not all) of the following areas: single cell experimentation and data analysis (e.g., RNAseq, CyTOF), computational biology (including experience with R), in vitro immunology assays, and xenograft models of primary human leukemia. The qualified applicant should have a doctoral degree in biomedical science (PhD or MD/PhD), a strong publication record (primary peer-reviewed publications) and excellent writing/communication skills. Successful applicants will have opportunity to tailor project related to above to individual interests and skills.

Environment: Candidates will receive focused and personalized mentoring from the PI, the Division of Hematology/Oncology, and the School of Medicine. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a large, collaborative environment for biomedical research with many opportunities for career development, funding, and education for postdoctoral researchers. Our lab is a member of the renowned Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, which brings together clinicians, basic scientists, engineers and statisticians in close collaboration due to its interdisciplinary research and close physical proximity. The PI also conducts early phase clinical trials for AML and MDS which serve as a source of patient samples and collaborative studies.

Interested applicants should contact the PI at: brent.ferrell at vumc.org.