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
Chief, Division of Cell Therapy in the Department of Medicine
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Affiliate of the Duke Regeneration Center
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


Papanicolaou, Genovefa A., Celalettin Ustun, Jo-Anne H. Young, Min Chen, Soyoung Kim, Kwang Woo Ahn, Krishna Komanduri, et al. “Bloodstream Infection Due to Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus Is Associated With Increased Mortality After Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Acute Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome: A Multicenter, Retrospective Cohort Study.” Clin Infect Dis 69, no. 10 (October 30, 2019): 1771–79.

Full Text

Blanchard, S. K., K. M. Sullivan, J. N. Hooten, Z. E. Holcomb, K. Rowe Nichols, M. A. Selim, C. L. Rao, R. P. Hall, N. J. Chao, and A. R. Cardones. “High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin as adjuvant treatment for grade IV acute cutaneous graft-versus-host disease.” Br J Dermatol 181, no. 4 (October 2019): 869–71.

Full Text

Naik, Seema, Marcie Riches, Parameswaran Hari, Soyoung Kim, Min Chen, Carlos Bachier, Paul Shaughnessy, et al. “Survival outcomes of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplants with EBV-positive or EBV-negative post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, A CIBMTR study.” Transpl Infect Dis 21, no. 5 (October 2019): e13145.

Full Text

Piryani, Sadhna O., Angel Y. F. Kam, Uyen T. Vu, Nelson J. Chao, and Phuong L. Doan. “CCR5 Signaling Promotes Murine and Human Hematopoietic Regeneration following Ionizing Radiation.” Stem Cell Reports 13, no. 1 (July 9, 2019): 76–90.

Full Text

Cardones, Adela R., Keith M. Sullivan, Cindy Green, Nelson J. Chao, Krista Rowe-Nichols, Lionel L. Bañez, Claude S. Burton, et al. “Interrater Reliability of Clinical Grading Measures for Cutaneous Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease.” Jama Dermatol 155, no. 7 (July 1, 2019): 833–37.

Full Text

Racioppi, Luigi, Erik R. Nelson, Wei Huang, Debarati Mukherjee, Scott A. Lawrence, William Lento, Anna Maria Masci, et al. “CaMKK2 in myeloid cells is a key regulator of the immune-suppressive microenvironment in breast cancer.” Nat Commun 10, no. 1 (June 4, 2019): 2450.

Full Text

Piryani, Sadhna O., Yiqun Jiao, Angel Y. F. Kam, Yang Liu, Tuan Vo-Dinh, Benny J. Chen, Nelson J. Chao, and Phuong L. Doan. “Endothelial Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Mitigate Radiation-Induced Hematopoietic Injury.” Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 104, no. 2 (June 1, 2019): 291–301.

Full Text

Jauhari, Shekeab, Alicia D. Volkheimer, Ian Barak, Eross Guadalupe, J Brice Weinberg, Nelson Jen An Chao, Zhiguo Li, and Luigi Racioppi. “Expression and prognostic relevance of calcium calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CaMKK2) in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol. 37. AMER SOC CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, 2019.


Schroeder, Kristin, Fatima Alvi, Hartlee Johnston, Nestory Andrew Masalu, and Nelson Jen An Chao. “Impact of a pilot patient navigator program on pediatric cancer outcomes in a low resource setting.” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, 37:e18152–e18152. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 2019.

Full Text