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Robert Hawley Robert Hawley
Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Office Phone: 202-994-2763
Email: Email
Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology


  • BS, Queen's University, Canada, 1979
  • PhD, University of Toronto, Canada, 1984


Dr. Hawley received a B.S. in Chemical Physics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1979 and, after graduate studies at the Ontario Cancer Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Nobumichi Hozumi, obtained his Ph.D. in Medical Biophysics from the University of Toronto in 1984. Following three years of postdoctoral training in developmental hematopoiesis with Dr. Beatrice Mintz at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia as a Fellow of the Medical Research Council of Canada, Dr. Hawley returned to Canada where he was a Career Scientist of the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, first at the Ottawa Cancer Center and subsequently in the Cancer Biology Division of the University of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Science Center. In January 1996, Dr. Hawley moved to the Toronto General Hospital where he was Scientific Director of the Oncology Gene Therapy Program and Head of the Oncology Research Laboratories. He held these positions and was an Associate Professor of Medical Biophysics and Medicine at the University of Toronto until January 1999, when he joined the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences in Rockville, Maryland—the national research and development division of American Red Cross Biomedical Services—to lead the newly created Hematopoiesis Department. Dr. Hawley was appointed to the faculty of The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences as Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology in December 1999 in accordance with an Affiliation Agreement between GW and the Red Cross. In January 2002, Dr. Hawley was named Executive Director of Cell Therapy Research and Development at the Red Cross, assuming leadership of the Holland Laboratory’s Blood and Cell Therapy Development Department while maintaining his position as Head of the Hematopoiesis Department.

In July 2004, Dr. Hawley relocated to the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences within the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. He served as Chair of the Department from July 2007 to July 2016. Under his leadership, the Department established several educational initiatives including a Secondary Field of Study (Minor) in Human Anatomy at the undergraduate level, and two pre-medicine academic enhancer programs at the graduate level—a Master of Science in Anatomical and Translational Sciences (MATS) and a Graduate Certificate in Anatomical and Translational Sciences (GCATS), the latter two of which he currently serves as Program Director. Dr. Hawley served as Course Director of BMSC 8212 (Developmental Cell Biology and Systems Physiology), a core curriculum course for first year Ph.D. students in the GW Institute for Biomedical Sciences, from 2010 to 2017; and the predecessor to that course BMSC 212 (Cell Biology) from 2006 to 2010. He also served as Course Director of ANAT 6182 (Fundamentals of Regenerative Biology and Systems Physiology), offered to students enrolled in the second year of the MATS program, from 2015 to 2017.

Course Director (2022-2023)
ANAT 6150 (Human Microscopic Anatomy)
ANAT 6223 (Special Topics/Scientific Writing)
ANAT 6275 (Advanced Studies in Translational Sciences)


Dr. Hawley has published almost 200 original and review articles on stem cell and regenerative biology, the molecular underpinnings of disease with an emphasis in hematology/oncologycancer drug resistance mechanisms, and experimental therapeutics as well as gene delivery and flow cytometry-based detection methodologies. Together with Teresa Hawley, he edited the second, third and fourth editions of Flow Cytometry Protocols, Volumes 263699 and 1678 in the Methods in Molecular Biology series published by Humana Press/Springer Nature. Dr. Hawley is best known for developing the MSCV (murine stem cell virus) retroviral vector, derivatives of which have been utilized in thousands of scientific publications, and in the first FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies for large B-cell lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Among his notable collaborative achievements: evidence that retroviral-like intracisternal A particle sequences are mobile genetic elements in the mouse genome (with Nobumichi Hozumi); functional antigen-specific recombinant antibody production by gene transfer into lymphoid cells (with Nobel Laureate Georges Köhler and Nobumichi Hozumi); description of the jellyfish A. Victoria green fluorescent protein gene as a flow cytometric reporter in mammalian cells (with Linzhao Cheng); preclinical studies of interleukin 11, a hematopoietic growth factor originally approved for chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (with Samuel Goldman); lentiviral vector-mediated genetic modification of human pluripotent stem cells (with James Thomson); a proof-of-concept cancer immunogene T-cell therapy approach that successfully translated into the clinic (with Steven Rosenberg and Richard Morgan); and identification of autophagy gene variants in sporadic Parkinson’s disease (with Bo Yan). Dr. Hawley's current research is focused on rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft-tissue malignancy in children for which new treatments are much needed (with Javed Khan).

Dr. Hawley has served on several editorial boards including as Editor-in-Chief of Current Gene Therapy and as a Senior Editor of Stem Cells.

PubMed Publications


Valedictorian, Thousand Islands Secondary School (1975)
Ontario Scholarship, Ministry of Education of Ontario (1975)
Tricolor Scholarship, Queen’s University (1975-1977)
O.M. Montgomery Scholarship, Queen’s University (1978-1979)
Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Ministry of Education of Ontario (1979-1980)
Studentship, Medical Research Council of Canada (1980-1984)
Allan M. Wu Research Award, University of Toronto (1984)
Fellowship, Medical Research Council of Canada (1984-1987)
Career Scientist, Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation (1987-1996)
Visiting Professor, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (1993)
Carleton and Sigrid Stewart Plenary Speaker Award, GLIIFCA (2004)
Elaine H. Snyder Cancer Research Award, GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (2006)
Visiting Professor, Jining Medical University, Jining, Shandong, China (2013)
Special Volunteer Award, National Institutes of Health (2017-2018)

Industry Relationships and Collaborations

This faculty member (or a member of their immediate family) has reported a financial interest with the health care related companies listed below. These relations have been reported to the University and, when appropriate, management plans are in place to address potential conflicts.

  • Takara Bio USA, Inc.