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.

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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


Musselwhite, LW, Schroeder, K, Bhattacharya, M, Vanderburg, SB, Masalu, NA, Chandy, M, Mauad, E, Bartlett, J, Kastan, MB, Merson, M, and Chao, NJA. "Duke University Global Cancer Program: A multidisciplinary approach to partnerships in global cancer care." May 20, 2015.


Arai, S, Arora, M, Wang, T, Spellman, SR, He, W, Couriel, DR, Urbano-Ispizua, A, Cutler, CS, Bacigalupo, AA, Battiwalla, M, Flowers, ME, Juckett, MB, Lee, SJ, Loren, AW, Klumpp, TR, Prockup, SE, Ringdén, OTH, Savani, BN, Socié, G, Schultz, KR, Spitzer, T, Teshima, T, Bredeson, CN, Jacobsohn, DA, Hayashi, RJ, Drobyski, WR, Frangoul, HA, Akpek, G, Ho, VT, Lewis, VA, Gale, RP, Koreth, J, Chao, NJ, Aljurf, MD, Cooper, BW, Laughlin, MJ, Hsu, JW, Hematti, P, Verdonck, LF, Solh, MM, and Norkin, M et al. "Increasing incidence of chronic graft-versus-host disease in allogeneic transplantation: a report from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research." Biology of blood and marrow transplantation : journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 21, no. 2 (February 2015): 266-274.

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Tuchman, SA, Bacon, WA, Huang, LW, Long, G, Rizzieri, D, Horwitz, M, Chute, JP, Sullivan, K, Engemann, AM, Yopp, A, Li, Z, Corbet, K, Chao, N, and Gasparetto, C. "Cyclophosphamide-based hematopoietic stem cell mobilization before autologous stem cell transplantation in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma." Journal of Clinical Apheresis 30, no. 3 (January 1, 2015): 176-182.

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Quarmyne, M, Doan, PL, Himburg, HA, Yan, X, Nakamura, M, Zhao, L, Chao, NJ, and Chute, JP. "Protein tyrosine phosphatase-σ regulates hematopoietic stem cell-repopulating capacity." The Journal of clinical investigation 125, no. 1 (January 2015): 177-182.

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Himburg, HA, Yan, X, Doan, PL, Quarmyne, M, Micewicz, E, McBride, W, Chao, NJ, Slamon, DJ, and Chute, JP. "Pleiotrophin mediates hematopoietic regeneration via activation of RAS." The Journal of clinical investigation 124, no. 11 (November 2014): 4753-4758.

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Wang, C, Belley, MD, Chao, NJ, Dewhirst, MW, and Yoshizumi, T. "Verification of a novel method for tube voltage constancy measurement of orthovoltage x-ray irradiators." Medical physics 41, no. 8 (August 2014): 084101-.

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McClune, BL, Ahn, KW, Wang, H-L, Antin, JH, Artz, AS, Cahn, J-Y, Deol, A, Freytes, CO, Hamadani, M, Holmberg, LA, Jagasia, MH, Jakubowski, AA, Kharfan-Dabaja, MA, Lazarus, HM, Miller, AM, Olsson, R, Pedersen, TL, Pidala, J, Pulsipher, MA, Rowe, JM, Saber, W, van Besien, KW, Waller, EK, Aljurf, MD, Akpek, G, Bacher, U, Chao, NJ, Chen, Y-B, Cooper, BW, Dehn, J, de Lima, MJ, Hsu, JW, Lewis, ID, Marks, DI, McGuirk, J, Cairo, MS, Schouten, HC, Szer, J, Ramanathan, M, Savani, BN, Seftel, M, and Socie, G et al. "Allotransplantation for patients age ≥40 years with non-Hodgkin lymphoma: encouraging progression-free survival." Biology of blood and marrow transplantation : journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 20, no. 7 (July 2014): 960-968.

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Horwitz, ME, Chao, NJ, Rizzieri, DA, Long, GD, Sullivan, KM, Gasparetto, C, Chute, JP, Morris, A, McDonald, C, Waters-Pick, B, Stiff, P, Wease, S, Peled, A, Snyder, D, Cohen, EG, Shoham, H, Landau, E, Friend, E, Peleg, I, Aschengrau, D, Yackoubov, D, Kurtzberg, J, and Peled, T. "Umbilical cord blood expansion with nicotinamide provides long-term multilineage engraftment." The Journal of clinical investigation 124, no. 7 (July 2014): 3121-3128.

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Chao, N. "How I treat sinusoidal obstruction syndrome." Blood 123, no. 26 (June 2014): 4023-4026.

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Lee, C-L, Lento, WE, Castle, KD, Chao, NJ, and Kirsch, DG. "Inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3 mitigates the hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome in mice." Radiation research 181, no. 5 (May 2014): 445-451.

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