Research & Publications
After graduating from Hamilton College as a Chemistry major, Richard Edelson received his MD from the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). He then sequentially trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, Dermatology in the Harvard Program and Cancer Immunology at the National Institutes of Health. Before being recruited back to his alma mater as Chairman and Professor of the YSM Department of Dermatology in 1986, he was Director of the Immunobiology Group in Columbia University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Associate Director of that institution’s General Clinical Research Center and Professor and Director of Research in Columbia’s Dermatology Department.
While on the Yale faculty, he served continuously as Chairman of the Department of Dermatology (1986-2022), and at overlapping times, has also been the Director of the Yale University Comprehensive Cancer Center (2003-9), YSM Deputy Dean overseeing all Clinical Departments (2000-3), Leader of the YSM Cancer Center’s Lymphoma Research Program and the YSM Faculty Representative to the Yale-New Haven Hospital Board of Trustees. On October 1, 2022, after serving as departmental chairman for 37 years (the longest duration of any Yale University departmental chairman in University history), he resigned the position, while remaining a full-time Professor of Dermatology. He was replaced by Keith Choate, MD, PhD, who is an internationally renowned investigative dermatologist specialized in the study and treatment of genetic diseases of the skin. Dr. Edelson is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, the Interurban Club, the Lotos Club and an honorary member of several international medical associations.
He is best known for two discoveries and their development. First, he introduced the unifying concept of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma (CTCL), as a malignancy of skin-homing malignant CD4 T cells. Second, he devised Extracorporeal Photochemotherapy, which became the first FDA-approved immunotherapy for any cancer. That therapy, through its induction, antigen loading and modulation of physiologic dendritic antigen presenting cells, is now regularly administered in the majority of university medical centers throughout the USA and Europe, to treat advanced CTCL, rejection of transplanted hearts and lungs, graft-versus-host disease following stem cell transplantation and autoimmune disorders. More than 70,000 patients have received a total of more than 3 million treatments.
He takes great pride in the level and breadth of the international acclaim of the present Yale Dermatology faculty members, all of whom were recruited to the Department on the Edelson watch. Each of the Department's four clinical sections (Medical, Pediatric and Surgical Dermatology, and Diagnostic Dermatopathology) is led by a recent president of the relevant national society. The clinical (residency and fellowship) training programs are distinguished by their production of academic and investigative dermatologists, having launched the careers of more than sixty full-time university-based faculty members, including eight current Dermatology Department chairmen (Stanford, Harvard, NYU, Albert Einstein, Howard, Oregon, Vermont and Eastern Virginia), the current Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute and four current Directors of Dermatologic Surgery (Yale, Stanford, NYU and Vermont). The Yale Dermatology faculty currently ranks first nationally in its field, in terms of total federally funded dollars of competitive research support.
Dr. Edelson is the recipient of several National honors, including Castle and Connolly’s National Physician of the Year, the Dermatology Foundation’s Discovery Award, the American Skin Association’s National Mentorship Award and the Society of Investigative Dermatology’s Rothman Award for Career Contributions. He is one of eight selected graduates of the NIH Physician Scientist Training Program whose investigative careers were featured in an eight-hour audiobook, narrated by actor Alan Alda, released by Audible.Com in December 2020, as a tribute to pivotal federally funded scientifically-driven medical advances.
Education & Training
- MD: Yale University (1970)
- Dermatology Residency: Harvard (1971-2), NIH (1972-3), Columbia (1975-6)
- Internal Medicine Internship: University of Chicago Hospital (1970-1)
- Immunology Fellowship: Laboratory of Immunology NIAID, NCI of the NIH (1972-5)
- Board Certification: Dermatology
- Elected Member American Society Clinical Investigation 1982
- Elected Member American Association Professors 1986
- Elected Member (Osler) Interurban Club 1989
- National Physician of the Year Castle Connolly 2012
- National Discovery Award Dermatology Foundation 2015
- National Mentor of the Year American Skin Association 2017
- Rothman Prize Society for Investigative Dermatology 2019
Activities and Projects
- Referral Clinical Practice
- Yale Dermatology Group, 2 Church Street, New Haven, CT
- Special Interest: Cutaneous Lymphoma and Related Disorders
- As Chairman of the Yale Department of Dermatology, Oversight of:
- Faculty Recruitment and Career Development
- Oversight of Teaching and Research Programs
- Active Projects of the Edelson Research Team
- Development and Implementation of Selective Anti-Tumor Immunotherapy
- Enhancement of Post-Stem Cell Transplantation Graft-vs-Tumor Immunity
- Production/Modulation of Physiologic Dendritic Antigen Presenting Cells (phDC)
- Dissection of Exosome and ER Stress Contributions to Anti-Cancer Immunity
- Rapid Initiation of Protection Against Emerging Infection
- Creation of Single Day Nanotechnical Evaluation of Anti-Tumor, Anti-Viral T Cell Responses
- Branford College (Yale College) Fellow and Advisor of Undergraduates
Education & Training
- Senior ResidentColumbia-Presbyterian Hospital (1976)
- ResidentMassachusetts General Hospital (1972)
- InternUniversity of Chicago (1971)
- MDYale University (1970)
- FellowNational Institute of Health
- Board CertificationAB of Dermatology, Dermatology (1977)
- Cancer ImmunizationChina 2008Dr. Richard Edelson is working with colleagues at Shanghai University to develop selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
- Immunization Against Immunogenic CancersIsrael 2008International Health Yale School of Medicine work in selective immunization against immunogenic cancers
- Immunization Against Immunogenic CancersUnited Kingdom 2008Professor Edelson conducts collaborative work with colleagues from King's College, London, on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
- Immunogenic CancersSwitzerland 2008International Health Yale School of Medicine work in selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
- Immunogenic CancersFrance 2008Professor Edelson conducts collaborative work with French researchers at the Hospital St. Louis in France on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
- Immunogenic CancersGermany 2008Professor Casten conducted collaborative work with researchers at the University of Munich on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers
Honors & Recognition
|Lifetime Achievement Award||Yale Cancer Center||2022|
|National Physician of the Year - 2014||Castle Connolly||2020|
|USA Top Docs 2020||Castle Connolly Physician Honor Roll||2016|
|Connecticut Magazine Top Docs 2020||Connecticut Magazine||2015|