Lieping Chen, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Lieping Chen is the scientific founder of NextCure and the United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research and Professor of Immunobiology, Dermatology and Medicine (Medical Oncology) at Yale University. He is also the Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at Yale Cancer Center.
Dr. Chen is a pioneer in the field of lymphocyte co-stimulation and co-inhibition. In 1992, Dr. Chen was the first to discover “co-stimulation of tumor immunity” and to use co-stimulatory molecules to treat cancer and other diseases.
His laboratory first cloned B7-H1 (PD-L1), discovered its immune suppressive functions and demonstrated the role of the PD-1/B7-H1 pathway in the evasion of tumor immunity. Bringing these lines of inquiry full circle, in 2002, he first showed that blocking the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 by monoclonal antibodies improved the immune system’s ability to eliminate tumors. Dr. Chen also initiated and helped organize the first-in-human clinical trials of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies for treating human cancer in 2006 at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. His discoveries directly led to the development of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapies against a broad spectrum of human cancers. These discoveries have revolutionized cancer treatment. Dr. Chen has authored 350+ peer-reviewed research articles and is an inventor on more than 40 US patents.
Dr. Chen earned his medical degree from Fujian Medical School in Fuzhou City, China in 1982, and completed his clinical training in hematology and oncology at Fujian Union Hospital in Fuzhou and Beijing Union Medical College Cancer Hospital in Beijing, China before earning his Ph.D. in pathology from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1989. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington he worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb as a research scientist from 1990-1997, and was recruited by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where he was promoted to the rank of Professor by 2000. In 2004, he joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland as a Professor of Oncology & Dermatology and the Director of Research in Dermatology prior to assuming his current position at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 2010.