Lieping Chen, MD, PhD

United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research and Professor of Immunobiology, of Dermatology and of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Co-Director, Cancer Immunology Program at Yale Cancer Center

Departments & Organizations

Immunobiology: Chen Lab | HTI

Medical Oncology

Rheumatic Diseases Research Core

Rheumatology, Allergy, & Clinical Immunology

Yale Cancer Center: Cancer Immunology | SPORE in Lung Cancer

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Immunology

Office of Cooperative Research


Prior to joining Yale in 2011, Dr. Chen was a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Mayo Clinic, a scientist in Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and a physician-scientist in Beijing, China.

Dr. Chen studies lymphocyte costimulation and coinhibition and applies laboratory findings to treat human disease. Published in 1992, Dr. Chen pioneered the first proof-of-concept study showing that manipulation of the B7-CD28/CTLA-4 family molecules could be used for cancer immunotherapy. This study inspires subsequent studies targeting this pathway for the treatment of human cancer.

Dr. Chen’s decades-long studies established the foundation for the anti-PD-1/PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy with contributions in both basic and translational research. In basic research, his laboratory co-discovered the PD-1/PD-L1 (PD) pathway and elucidated its immune suppressive functions. These findings include discoveries of B7-H1 molecule (was also called PD-L1 later) and its immune suppressive function. In translational research, his studies have singularly established the PD pathway as the target for cancer immunotherapy. These discoveries include demonstration of highly selective and over expression of B7-H1 in tumor microenvironment and its role in suppression of anti-tumor T-cell response; discovery of interferon-gamma as a major regulator of B7-H1 upexpression as well as development of adaptive resistance hypothesis. These studies made the first link of the PD pathway to cancer. He also initiated and helped organize the first-in-man clinical trial of antibody blockade of the PD pathway for  cancer in 2006 and developed B7-H1 staining as a biomarker to predict treatment outcome. These discoveries have revolutionized cancer immunotherapy and modern cancer treatment.

Dr. Chen’s laboratory also discovered multiple costimulatory and coinhibitory pathways, their immunological functions and applications in human disease treatment. These pathways include 4-1BB, ICOS/B7-H2, B7-H3, B7-H4, B7-H5/CD28H, PD-1H, LIGHT/HVEM, TROY, B7-H2/CD28/CTLA-4 (human), SALM5/HVEM and others. These discoveries have led to the development of various therapeutic drugs/approaches which are currently in clinical trials for human diseases.

Education & Training

PhD Drexel University, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (1989)
MS Beijing Union Medical College, Beijing, China, Immunology (1986)
MD Fujian Medical College (1982)
Postdoctoral fellow University of Washington
Fellow Beijing Union Medical College
Intern and Resident Fujian Union Hospital

Honors & Recognition

  • Elected AcademicianAcademia Sinica (2018)

  • Kurt Hellman AwardMetastasis Research Society (2018)

  • Brilliant Achievement AwardChinese Biopharmaceutical Association (2018)

  • Luminary AwardWorld Affairs Council of Connecticut (2018)

  • CST Innovation and Translational Research AwardCell Signaling Technology Inc (2018)

  • Giants of Cancer CareOncLive (2018)

  • ACTS Team Science AwardAssociation for Clinical and Translational Science (2018)

  • Presidential AwardSociety of Chinese Bioscientists in America (2017)

  • Warren Alpert Foundation PrizeWarren Alpert Foundation/Harvard Medical School (2017)

  • Biomedical Sciences AwardBoao Forum Asia in Biomedical Sciences (2017)

  • Shizhang Bei International AwardThe Biophysical Society of China (2017)

  • CAST-USA Science and Innovation AwardChinese Association for Science and Technology-USA (2016)

  • AAI-Steinman AwardAmerican Association of Immunologists (2016)

  • Lifetime Achievement AwardCAHON (2015)

  • William B. Coley AwardCancer Research Institute (2014)

  • Inaugural United Technologies Corporation Endowed Chair ProfessorYale University (2013)

  • Honorary M.A. DegreeYale University (2012)

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Contact Info

Lieping Chen, MD, PhD
Lab Location
300 George Street, Ste Suite 203A, Room 2321
New Haven, CT 06511
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Office Location
300 George Street, Ste Suite 203A, Room 2304
New Haven, CT 06511
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Chen Lab Page