Richard J. O’Reilly, M.D.

  • Chair, Translational Cancer Research Peer Review Panel
    Chair, Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Research Focus

Dr. Richard J. O'Reilly has been engaged in clinical research and experimental therapeutics focused on allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.  He pioneered the development of curative marrow transplantation approaches for the treatment of children with severe combined immune deficiency who lack an HLA matched sibling donor.  He introduced the use of matched unrelated donors and T-cell depleted transplants from HLA half matched donors in order to provide a normal blood system without graft vs host disease (GvHD) to patients afflicted with lethal immune deficiencies and leukemia, and subsequently performed the first successful transplants of unrelated marrow for the treatment of leukemia. He and his colleagues developed an approach employing soy bean lectin agglutination and E-rosette depletion for elimination of T lymphocytes from bone marrow allografts.  Thereafter, they verified the potential of allogeneic T cell-depleted transplants to prevent GvHD in primate models.  Beginning in 1980, they introduced trials of transplants from haplotype matched parents depleted of T-cells by this technique as a treatment for children with severe combined immune deficiency. This experience, which is now one of the world’s largest, clearly demonstrates that such transplants can reconstitute immunity and abrogate GvHD.  Indeed, 70% of the patients in the entire series are surviving with immune reconstitution and without GvHD.

Over subsequent years, his research focused on the application of T-cell depleted transplants in patients with leukemia and demonstrated that adequately depleted bone marrow or cytokine mobilized blood progenitor cells can be transplanted both in matched and HLA disparate recipients without GvHD. In 1994, he introduced the use of adoptive T-cell therapy for treatment of EBV+ lymphomas. Currently, he is developing new approaches for adoptive cell therapy for leukemias and conducting Phase I and II trials testing adoptive transfer of virus-specific and tumor-specific T-cells as a therapeutic approach for EBV+ lymphoproliferative disease, drug resistant CMV infections, and leukemic relapse in post-transplant patients.


College of the Holy Cross, B.S., Pre-Medicine
University of Rochester School of Medicine, M.D.

Other Experience

Member, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Professor of Pediatrics, Cornell University Medical Center
Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Pediatric Research, Cornell University Medical Center
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Cornell University Medical Center
Assistant Professor of Biology, Sloan-Kettering Division of Graduate School of Medical Science, Cornell University
Associate, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Head, Laboratory of Microbial Immunology, Sloan-Kettering Institute
Instructor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Selected Honors

John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award, Houston Academy of Medicine
Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize, Society of Translational Oncology
Sanctae Crucis Award, Holy Cross College
Lifetime Achievement Award, American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Pediatric Oncology Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Pediatric Oncology Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology
Lifetime Achievement Award – Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Timothy Gee Humanity in Medicine Award – Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation
Claire L. Tow Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research
Herman Boerhaave Medal, Leiden University
Board of Scientific Counselors, National Cancer Institute
Mary Jane Keller Visiting Professorship, Yale University
Vincent Astor Chair in Clinical Research, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Visiting Woodruff Professor, Emory University School of Medicine
Louise and Allston Boyer-Young Investigator Award - Clinical Research