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Dr. Edward Nelson - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Dr. Edward Nelson Dr. Edward Nelson

Chief of Hematology/Oncology | UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center


Dr. Nelson is a physician-scientist and tumor immunologist who conducts both laboratory and clinical studies.





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Dr. Edward L. Nelson, Interim Chief, Division of Hematology Oncology, UC Irvine School of Medicine



Dr. Nelson is a translational Physician/Scientist, tumor immunologist who conducts both laboratory and clinical studies with a focus of improving the ability of the immune system to fight patient’s cancer. He is Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, a member of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cancer Research Institute, Institute for Immunology. He has been leader of the ad hoc UCI Breast Cancer Research Group and co-investigator in the NSF funded LifeChips IGERT program. His work incorporates cutting edge technologies to improve patient care and outcomes.

Dr Nelson collaborates with Dr. Lari Wenzel in a multi-disciplinary team that conducts biobehavioral clinical studies in cervical cancer patients, who are typically low socioeconomic class, underserved ,and often minority patients. Our work is the first to demonstrate, in human clinical trials, an association between the psychological response to chronic psychological stress and the stance or balance of the immune system. We were also the first to demonstrate that telomere length of peripheral blood leukocytes could be affected by changes in the chronic stress response. Together, these groundbreaking studies have adding significantly to the growing understanding of the PNI axis.

Dr. Nelson also conducts laboratory research into mechanisms for eliciting antigen specific, anti-tumor immune responses and methods for translation into clinical trials. Specifically, he is developing strategies for anti-tumor immunotherapy that take advantage of immune system dendritic cell biology. We were the first to demonstrate a significant level of plasticity in the major human DC subset. We have evaluated the Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus derived vector for use in anti-tumor immunotherapy, which has intrinsic tropism for a subset of DCs, which we initially identified. We collaborate with investigators from the Institute for Molecular Medicine in preclinical antigen specific immunotherapies targeting the cancer testes antigen BORIS, and with our material scientists in targeting antigens to DCs.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Immunomodulation & Immunotherapeutics

Cancer Stem Cell Biology


Tumor Immunology

Psychoneuroimmune Axis

Accomplishments (3)

American College of Physicians (professional)

2010 Elected as Fellow

OCMA Physician of Excellence (professional)

2007, 2008, 2009

ASCO Merit Award (professional)


Education (1)

Oregon Health Sciences University: MD

Affiliations (11)

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • American Society for Clinical Oncology
  • Clinical Immunology Society
  • International Society for Biological Therapy
  • American College of Physicians/American Society for Internal Medicine
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Federation for Clinical Research
  • Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
  • Medical Oncology Association of Southern California (MOASC)

Patents (3)

A vector for polynucleotide vaccines



The present invention relates generally to polynucleotide vaccines and a novel vector useful for same. The present invention relates more specifically to a humanized polynucleotide vector vaccine which is useful in generating an immune response to a selected target antigen, in particular, to a tumor antigen.

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Methods and compositions for making dendritic cells from expanded populations of monocytes and for activating T cells



Methods of generating IL-3 expanded populations of monocytes and differentiating the cells into dendritic cells are provided. The methods include use of the dendritic cells to activate T-cells, in vitro and in vivo, and for ex vivo and other therapeutic methods.

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Her2/neu target antigen and use of same to stimulate an immune response



A recombinant polynucleotide encoding a Her2/neu target antigen is provided, as is a recombinant Her2/neu target antigen polypeptide. Also provided are methods of using such a recombinant polynucleotide to express a Her2/neu target antigen in a cell. In addition, methods are provided for using the recombinant polynucleotide or the recombinant polypeptide to stimulate an immune response in a subject against cancer that expresses Her2/neu. Methods of making a target antigen also are provided.

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Articles (5)

Validation of PROMIS emotional distress short form scales for cervical cancer

Gynecologic Oncology

Justin Wilford, Kathryn Osann, Susie Hsieh, Bradley Monk, Edward Nelson, Lari Wenzel

2018 Cervical cancer patients are at high risk for emotional distress. In this study we evaluate the PROMIS emotional distress-Depression and -Anxiety Short Forms for assessing depression and anxiety in a cervical cancer population.

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Microfluidic filter device with nylon mesh membranes efficiently dissociates cell aggregates and digested tissue into single cells

Lab on a Chip

Xiaolong Qiu, Jeremy A. Lombardo, Trisha M. Westerhof, Marissa Pennell, Anita Ng, Hamad Alshetaiwi, Brian M. Luna, Edward L. Nelson, Kai Kessenbrock, Elliot E. Hui and Jered B. Haun

2018 Tissues are increasingly being analyzed at the single cell level in order to characterize cellular diversity and identify rare cell types. Single cell analysis efforts are greatly limited, however, by the need to first break down tissues into single cell suspensions. Current dissociation methods are inefficient, leaving a significant portion of the tissue as aggregates that are filtered away or left to confound results.

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Anticancer Mechanisms in Two Murine Bone Marrow–Derived Dendritic Cell Subsets Activated with TLR4 Agonists

The Journal of Immunology

Alexander Bagaev, Aleksey Pichugin, Edward L. Nelson, Michael G. Agadjanyan, Anahit Ghochikyan and Ravshan I. Ataullakhanov

2018 Dendritic cells (DCs) are well-known for their functions in orchestrating the innate and adaptive arms of immune defense. However, under certain conditions, DCs can exert tumoricidal activity. We have elucidated the mechanism of tumor suppression by TLR4-activated bone marrow–derived DCs (BMDCs) isolated from BALB/c mice. We identified that two distinct subsets of BMDCs (CD11b+CD11c+I-A/Eint and CD11b+CD11c+I-A/Ehigh) have different cytotoxic mechanisms of action.

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Whole-blood sorting, enrichment and in situ immunolabeling of cellular subsets using acoustic microstreaming

Microsystems & Nanoengineering

Neha Garg, Trisha M. Westerhof, Vick Liu, Robin Liu, Edward L. Nelson & Abraham P. Lee

2018 Analyzing undiluted whole human blood is a challenge due to its complex composition of hematopoietic cellular populations, nucleic acids, metabolites, and proteins. We present a novel multi-functional microfluidic acoustic streaming platform that enables sorting, enrichment and in situ identification of cellular subsets from whole blood.

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Microfluidic channel optimization to improve hydrodynamic dissociation of cell aggregates and tissue

Scientific Reports

2018 Maximizing the speed and efficiency at which single cells can be liberated from tissues would dramatically advance cell-based diagnostics and therapies. Conventional methods involve numerous manual processing steps and long enzymatic digestion times, yet are still inefficient. In previous work, we developed a microfluidic device with a network of branching channels to improve the dissociation of cell aggregates into single cells.

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