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

Cancer Center, Yale: Cancer Immunology | SPORE in Lung Cancer

Office of Student Research

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Immunology: B and T Cell Effector and Memory Cell Differentiation; Consequences of an Immune Response; Infectious Disease and Host-Pathogen Interaction; Regulating the Immune Response

Office of Cooperative Research


Dr. Lieping Chen earned his medical degree from Fujian Medical School in China. After clinical training in immunology and oncology in Fujian Union Hospital and Peking Union Medical College, he earned PhD in Pathology from Drexel University in Philadelphia and did a postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Washington in Seattle. He worked as a research scientist in Bristol-Myers Squibb from 1989-1997 before he joined Mayo Clinic as Immunology Professor from 1997-2004. He was Professor of Oncology and Dermatology in Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for 7 years before he joined Yale University in 2011. He is currently holding the positions of United Technologies Corporation Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, Professor of Immunobiology, Dermatology and Medicine (Medical Oncology), and Director of Cancer Immunology Program in Yale School of Medicine.

Lieping Chen studies lymphocyte costimulation and coinhibition and their application in treating human diseases. In 1992, his works built original concept for current efforts using costimulatory and coinhibitory molecules to enhance tumor immunity as an approach to treat human cancer. Dr. Chen co-discovered the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway and singularly established the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway as target for cancer therapy. He help initiated and organized the first-in-man clinical trial of anti-PD-1 antibody for treating human cancer and developed PD-L1 staining as a biomarker to predict treatment outcome. Dr. Chen’s discoveries have revolutionized cancer treatment and led to the development of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapy against broad spectrum of advanced human cancers (first approved by FDA in 2014).

Dr. Chen’s laboratory also discovered many costimulatory and coinhibitory pathways (4-1BB, ICOS/B7-H2, B7-H3, B7-H4, B7-H5/CD28H, PD-1H, LIGHT/HVEM, TROY, B7-H2/CD28/CTLA-4), their immunological functions and applications in human disease treatment. These discoveries have led to the development of therapeutic agents including agonist anti-4-1BB antibody (cancer), anti-B7-H3 antibody (cancer) anti-B7-H4 antibody (cancer) and B7-H4Ig fusion protein (autoimmune diseases) which are currently in clinical trials.

Dr. Chen has published more than 300 papers, review, book chapters and edited two books. His work in discovery of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in cancer therapy was cited as the #1 breakthrough of the years by Science magazine (2013). He has received several awards and professional recognitions including William B. Coley Award (2014) and AAI-Steinman Award (2016).

Education & Training

PhD Drexel University (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

  • William B. Coley AwardCancer Research Institute (2014)

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

  • Honorary Master of ArtsYale University (2012)

  • American Cancer Society Research ScholarAmerican Cancer Society (2000)

  • Clinical Investigator AwardCancer Research Institute (1998)

  • Presidential AwardBristol-Myers Squibb Co. (1996)

Edit this profile

Contact Info

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