Nelson Jen An Chao, MD

Professor of Medicine
Donald D. and Elizabeth G. Cooke Cancer Distinguished Research Professor
Professor in Immunology
Research Professor 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 2400 Pratt St Suite 5000, DUMC Box 3961, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 668-1000
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


Stuart, M. J., N. S. Chao, S. J. Horning, R. M. Wong, R. S. Negrin, L. J. Johnston, J. A. Shizuru, G. D. Long, K. G. Blume, and K. E. Stockerl-Goldstein. “Efficacy and toxicity of a CCNU-containing high-dose chemotherapy regimen followed by autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation in relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's disease.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 7, no. 10 (2001): 552–60.

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McGaughey, D. S., D. A. Nikcevich, G. D. Long, J. J. Vredenburgh, D. Rizzieri, C. A. Smith, G. Broadwater, et al. “Inhaled steroids as prophylaxis for delayed pulmonary toxicity syndrome in breast cancer patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 7, no. 5 (2001): 274–78.

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Chen, B. J., X. Cui, J. M. Fidler, and N. J. Chao. “Mechanisms of tolerance induced by PG490-88 in a bone marrow transplantation model.” Blood 96, no. 11 PART II (December 1, 2000).


Morse, M. A., D. Rizzieri, A. C. Hobeika, N. Chao, and H. Kirn Lyerly. “Dendritic cell (DC) reconstitution after nonmyeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplants.” In Blood, Vol. 96, 2000.


Chen, B. J., X. Cui, and N. J. Chao. “Addition of stem cells from allogeneic donors accelerates engraftment and immune reconstitution after stem cell transplantation.” Blood 96, no. 11 PART I (December 1, 2000).


Chen, B. J., C. Liu, X. Cui, J. M. Fidler, and N. J. Chao. “Prevention of graft-versus-host disease by a novel immunosuppressant, PG490-88, through inhibition of alloreactive T cell expansion.” Transplantation 70, no. 10 (November 27, 2000): 1442–47.

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Brodwater, B. K., J. S. Silber, T. P. Smith, N. J. Chao, P. V. Suhocki, J. M. Ryan, and G. E. Newman. “Conversion of indwelling chest port catheters to tunneled central venous catheters.” J Vasc Interv Radiol 11, no. 9 (October 2000): 1137–42.

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Chen, Y., D. Zeng, P. G. Schlegel, J. Fidler, and N. J. Chao. “PG27, an extract of Tripterygium wilfordii hook f, induces antigen-specific tolerance in bone marrow transplantation in mice.” Blood 95, no. 2 (January 15, 2000): 705–10.