Nelson Jen An Chao, MD

Professor of Medicine
Donald D. and Elizabeth G. Cooke Cancer Research Professor
Professor in Immunology
ResearchProfessor of Global Health
Professor in Pathology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Chief, Division of Cell Therapy in the Department of Medicine
Affiliate of the Regeneration Next Initiative
Campus mail 1146 N Pavilion, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 668-1011
Email address

My research interests are in two broad areas, clinical hematopoietic stem cell and cord blood transplantation and in the laboratory studies related to graft vs. host disease and immune reconstitution. On the clinical side we are currently conducting approximately 50 different clinical protocols ranging from preparatory regimens, supportive care studies and disease specific protocols. Most of these clinical studies are centered around studies of the sources of stem cells and the methods to improve the long term outcome. There are exploratory protocols for novel therapies such as dendritic cell therapy for several malignancies, antiangiogenesis therapy, graft engineering to prevent graft-versus-host disease and antigen specific T cells or non specific NK cells to prevent relapse. Moreover a strong focus of the program is to develop cord-blood transplantation for adult patients with hematologic malignancies. The laboratory studies center on understanding the immunological events that occur with graft-vs-host disease and methods to prevent this disease. The current efforts focus on understanding murine reconstitution following transplantation, use of a peptide polymer to block MHC class II recognition of minor histocompatibility antigens, use of T cell engineering to prevent graft-versus-host disease at the same time preserving a graft-versus-malignancy effect.

For more information see

In Their Words

Education and Training

  • Fellow in Oncology, Medicine, Stanford University, 1985 - 1987
  • Medical Resident, Medicine, Stanford University, 1981 - 1984
  • M.D., Yale University, 1981


Chao, NJ. "Meet our editorial board member." Current Stem Cell Research and Therapy 12, no. 6 (January 1, 2017): 441-.


Himburg, HA, Doan, PL, Quarmyne, M, Yan, X, Sasine, J, Zhao, L, Hancock, GV, Kan, J, Pohl, KA, Tran, E, Chao, NJ, Harris, JR, and Chute, JP. "Dickkopf-1 promotes hematopoietic regeneration via direct and niche-mediated mechanisms." Nature Medicine 23, no. 1 (January 2017): 91-99.

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Yan, X, Himburg, HA, Pohl, K, Quarmyne, M, Tran, E, Zhang, Y, Fang, T, Kan, J, Chao, NJ, Zhao, L, Doan, PL, and Chute, JP. "Deletion of the Imprinted Gene Grb10 Promotes Hematopoietic Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Regeneration." Cell reports 17, no. 6 (November 2016): 1584-1594.

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Sung, AD, Sung, JAM, Thomas, S, Hyslop, T, Gasparetto, C, Long, G, Rizzieri, D, Sullivan, KM, Corbet, K, Broadwater, G, Chao, NJ, and Horwitz, ME. "Universal Mask Usage for Reduction of Respiratory Viral Infections After Stem Cell Transplant: A Prospective Trial." Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 63, no. 8 (October 2016): 999-1006.

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Stephens, SJ, Thomas, S, Rizzieri, DA, Horwitz, ME, Chao, NJ, Engemann, AM, Lassiter, M, and Kelsey, CR. "Myeloablative conditioning with total body irradiation for AML: Balancing survival and pulmonary toxicity." October 2016.

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Green, MMB, Chao, N, Chhabra, S, Corbet, K, Gasparetto, C, Horwitz, A, Li, Z, Venkata, JK, Long, G, Mims, A, Rizzieri, D, Sarantopoulos, S, Stuart, R, Sung, AD, Sullivan, KM, Costa, L, Horwitz, M, and Kang, Y. "Plerixafor (a CXCR4 antagonist) following myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation enhances hematopoietic recovery." Journal of Hematology & Oncology 9, no. 1 (August 17, 2016): 71-null.

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Wild, D, Sung, AD, Cardona, D, Cirricione, C, Sullivan, K, Detweiler, C, Shealy, M, Balmadrid, B, Rowes, KL, Chao, N, Piryani, S, Karimabad, HM, Martin, P, and Poleski, M. "The Diagnostic Yield of Site and Symptom-Based Biopsies for Acute Gastrointestinal Graft-Versus-Host Disease: A 5-Year Retrospective Review." Digestive Diseases and Sciences 61, no. 3 (March 2016): 806-813.

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Chao, NJ, and Confer, DL. "The Role of the Transplant Program in a Nuclear Accident or Terrorism." In Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Fifth Edition, 431-437. January 1, 2016.

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Chao, NJ. "Pharmacologic Prevention of Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease." In Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Fifth Edition, 990-1006. January 1, 2016.

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Allewelt, H, Martin, PL, Szabolcs, P, Chao, N, Buckley, R, and Parikh, S. "Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for CD40 Ligand Deficiency: Single Institution Experience." Pediatric blood & cancer 62, no. 12 (December 2015): 2216-2222.

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