Lieping Chen studies cell membrane proteins which control lymphocyte functions and translates his laboratory findings for the treatment of human diseases including cancer. Dr. Chen did the first proof-of-concept study in 1992 showing that the B7-CD28 family molecules could be the targets for cancer immunotherapy by introducing B7-1 into tumor cells to enhance therapeutic immunity. This study inspires subsequent studies targeting the B7-CD28/CTLA-4 family molecules for the treatment of cancer. Dr. Chen discovered B7-H1 (also called PD-L1) molecule in 1999 and demonstrated the role of PD-L1 in the evasion of immunity in tumor microenvironment. He singularly established the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway as the target for cancer immunotherapy in 1999-2002. He also initiated and help organized the first-in-man clinical trial of anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody for treating human cancer in 2006 and developed PD-L1 staining as a biomarker to predict treatment outcome. His discoveries directly led to the development of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapy against broad spectrum of human cancers (first approved in 2014 and five anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies approved by US FDA since then). Dr. Chen’s discoveries have revolutionized current oncology practice and cancer treatment.
Dr. Chen’s laboratory also discovered various molecular pathways with immune modulatory functions and their applications in human disease treatment. These discoveries led to the development of therapeutic agents in various stages of clinical trials for the treatment of human diseases including cancer and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Chen has published more than 350 peer reviewed articles and is an inventor of more than 40 US patents. He has received several awards and professional recognitions including William B. Coley Award (2014), Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (2017) and Giants of Cancer Care (2018).