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Richard L Edelson, MD

Anthony N. Brady Professor of Dermatology

Contact Information

Richard L Edelson, MD

Patient Care Location

Mailing Address

  • Dermatology

    PO Box 208059, 333 Cedar Street

    New Haven, CT 06520-8059

    United States



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


National Honors

  • 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 Resident
    Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital (1976)
  • Resident
    Massachusetts General Hospital (1972)
  • Intern
    University of Chicago (1971)
  • MD
    Yale University (1970)
  • Fellow
    National Institute of Health


  • Cancer Immunization
    China 2008
    Dr. Richard Edelson is working with colleagues at Shanghai University to develop selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
  • Immunization Against Immunogenic Cancers
    Israel 2008
    International Health Yale School of Medicine work in selective immunization against immunogenic cancers
  • Immunization Against Immunogenic Cancers
    United Kingdom 2008
    Professor Edelson conducts collaborative work with colleagues from King's College, London, on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
  • Immunogenic Cancers
    Switzerland 2008
    International Health Yale School of Medicine work in selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
  • Immunogenic Cancers
    France 2008
    Professor Edelson conducts collaborative work with French researchers at the Hospital St. Louis in France on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers.
  • Immunogenic Cancers
    Germany 2008
    Professor Casten conducted collaborative work with researchers at the University of Munich on selective immunization against immunogenic cancers

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Lifetime Achievement AwardYale Cancer Center2022
National Physician of the Year - 2014Castle Connolly2020
USA Top Docs 2020Castle Connolly Physician Honor Roll2016
Connecticut Magazine Top Docs 2020Connecticut Magazine2015

Departments & Organizations