Giants of Cancer Care® Program Inductees


Lieping Chen, MD, PhD

Codirector, Cancer Immunology Program, Yale Cancer Center

  • Lieping Chen, MD, PhD, has been integral to the discovery of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway and its immune-suppressive functions.
  • Dr. Chen has established himself as an expert in the field of lymphocyte costimulation and coinhibition and the use of this knowledge to battle cancer.
  • He and his laboratory are credited with the codiscovery of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway. More important, his laboratory performed foundational work that led to the invention of new immuno-oncology therapy. These works include understanding of the PD-L1 expression in tumor microenvironment as an escape mechanism from immune attack and the proof-of-principle experiments of anti–PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapy.
  • He also pioneered the first in-human trial of an antibody blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, which involved nivolumab (Opdivo), and he invented the PD-L1 staining to predict the outcome of treatment. Anti–PD-1/PD-L1 therapy has since been employed against a broad spectrum of at least 25 types of cancer.
  • Many other important pathways have been identified in Dr. Chen’s laboratory, including 4-1BB, ICOS/B7-H2, B7-H3, B7-H4, B7-H5/CD28H, PD-1H, LIGHT/HVEM, TROY, B7-H2/CD28/CTLA-4 (human), and SALM5/HVEM.
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