Expert Directory

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD

Deputy Director
Chief of Medical Oncology
Ensign Professor of Medicine
Yale Cancer Center
Smilow Cancer Hospital
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, CT

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, is, deputy director of Yale Cancer Center, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, and Ensign Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. 

Dr Herbst is a highly respected clinician­scientist who has worked over several decades as a pioneer of personalized medicine and immunotherapy to identify biomarkers and to bring novel targeted treatments and immunotherapies to patients, serving as principal investigator for numerous clinical trials testing these agents in advanced-stage lung cancers. This work has led to the US Food and Drug Administration approval of several therapies, such as gefitinib, cetuximab, bevacizumab, axitinib, atezolizumab, and pembrolizumab, that have revolutionized the field and have greatly enhanced patient survival. 

His leadership in targeted therapeutics resulted in a 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology plenary talk and the publication of results of the third-generation EGFR inhibitor osimertinib for the treatment of resected EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer in The New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, Dr Herbst and his colleagues at Yale were among the first to describe the PD-1/PD-L1 adaptive immune response in early phase trials and to offer trials of the PD-L1 inhibitors atezolizumab and pembrolizumab to patients with lung cancer. In 2015 and again in 2020, his team at Yale was awarded a Lung Cancer SPORE (P50 grant) by the National Cancer Institute, which has identified new immunotherapies and mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies.  

Dr Herbst's work on "umbrella” trials has galvanized the field of targeted therapy and cancer drug approvals at the US Food and Drug Administration. Nationally, he works closely with public-private partnerships to develop large master protocol clinical studies, such as Lung-MAP. He testified on the subject of modernizing clinical trials during the 21st Century Cures hearing before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health. He has served as a prominent figure in the public policy arena, for 9 years having served as a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum, for which he organized several meetings that were focused on policy issues in personalized medicine and tobacco control. 

He has been a champion of translational medicine for decades, recently authoring a high-profile review of the 20-year progress in lung cancer. He has authored or coauthored more than 350 publications, including peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters. Dr Herbst's work has appeared in many prominent journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, The Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine. His work published in Nature was awarded the 2015 Herbert Pardes Clinical Research Excellence Award by the Clinical Research Forum. 

Dr Herbst is a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), where he serves as an elected member of the AACR Board of Directors and chairs the Tobacco Task Force. He has been a major proponent of efforts to promote tobacco control and regulation (including e-cigarettes), authoring multiple policy statements and leading frequent Capitol Hill briefings. In 2019, Dr Herbst was elected to the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Board of Directors. He is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians, an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, and vice-chair of the SWOG Lung Committee.

For his lifetime achievement in scientific contributions to thoracic cancer research, Dr Herbst was awarded the 2016 Paul A. Bunn, Jr. Scientific Award by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer at its 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna, Austria. In addition, a team of Yale Cancer Center investigators led by Dr Herbst was awarded the 2018 Team Science Award from the Association for Clinical and Translational Science for their pioneering work in advancing our understanding of immunotherapy. Finally, Dr Herbst was awarded the 2020 AACR Distinguished Public Service Award for exceptional leadership in cancer science policy.