Expert Directory

Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD

Director of Myeloma Section
Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma
Florence Maude Thomas Cancer Research Professor
Department of Experimental Therapeutics
Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX

Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD, is director of the Myeloma Section in the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He holds the Florence Maude Thomas Cancer Research Professorship in the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma and is also professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. He serves as the leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program of the Cancer Center Support Grant and the MD Anderson Cancer Center High-Risk Multiple Myeloma Moon Shot. He is also the chair of the SWOG Barlogie/Salmon Myeloma Committee. 

Dr Orlowski completed his undergraduate education at Columbia University with a major in chemistry, and then obtained a PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and an MD at the Yale University Graduate School and the Yale University School of Medicine, respectively. After completing an internship and residency at the Washington University in St. Louis Barnes-Jewish Hospital, he completed fellowships in adult hematology and medical oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, respectively. Prior to arriving at M D Anderson, he was the Lenvel Lee Rothrock associate professor in hematology/oncology and pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Currently, Dr Orlowski leads both laboratory and clinical research programs studying hematologic malignancies with a focus on multiple myeloma. In the laboratory arena, the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway has been a special area of his interest that led to the validation of proteasome inhibitors, both alone and in combination with other agents, as rationally designed therapeutics. More recent studies have focused on targeting E3 ubiquitin ligases and heat shock proteins to achieve chemosensitization and overcome chemoresistance, and on identifying oncogenes that play prominent roles in the biology of multiple myeloma and lymphomas. In the clinical arena, Dr Orlowski has been one of the leaders in translating novel laboratory findings into the clinic, and he was the first to document the clinical effectiveness of bortezomib against multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. He also played a prominent role in the development of the bortezomib/doxorubicin combination and carfilzomib for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, spearheading their development from the preclinical stage through to phase 1 and 3 studies.  

Dr Orlowski’s research has been supported by peer-reviewed funding from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute, among others. His work has been recognized through numerous awards, including a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Celgene Young Investigator Award for Achievements in Clinical Hematology Research. He has authored more than 200 abstracts and publications, and serves as a reviewer on a number of study sections and for several journals, including Blood, Cancer Cell, Cancer Research, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature Medicine, and The New England Journal of Medicine.