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Edward L. Nelson

Medicine, Medicine, Division of Hematolo


Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology
School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine

Associate Professor Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
School of Biological Sciences 

M.D., Oregon Health Sciences University

Phone: (949) 824-2860
Fax: (949) 824-2305

University of California, Irvine
Sprague Hall, Room 136
Irvine, CA 92697

Tumor immunology, Cancer stem cell biology, Psychoneuroimmune axis, Immunomodulation & Immunotherapeutics, Dendritic cell biology,
URLs Clinical Web Site
Elected as Fellow of the American College of Physicians - 2010: OCMA Physician of Excellence – 2007, 2008, 2009; ASCO Merit Award - 1994; Pfizer Immunology Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - 1992; Dean's List - 1986; Merck Award for Scholastic Achievement - 1986; Sneeden Award for Excellence in Pathology - 1986; Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society - 1985; Tartar Research Fellowship - 1982
Appointments 1992-95 Stanford University-Pfizer Postdoctoral Immunology Research Fellowship
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.

Dr. Nelson was a co-investigator and faculty member in the NSF funded IGERT LifeChips program. Together with nanotechnology engineers and experts in advanced optics at the Beckman Laser Institute, Dr Nelson is refining a novel pallet array technology to be able to examine the cellular profile of individual patients’ tumors. We are applying this platform to study tumor cellular subsets at the single cell level, inclusive of putative cancer stem cells. This functionality of the platform has the potential to lead to the rational design of individualized treatment strategies. 

Dr. Nelson is the principle investigator on several clinical trials examining both therapeutic agents, biomarkers, and immunomodulatory interventions. Dr. Nelson's clinical interests are focused on lymphomas. He is active in quality improvement measures, in cancer survivorship, and in maximizing patient quality of life.

Dr. Nelson holds a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences.


US Application No. 09/242,202 and European Patent 0920522 (issued 10/03)
“Novel Vector for Polynucleotide Vaccines.” Edward L. Nelson, Peter J. Nelson

U.S. Patent No. 6,479,286 B1 (Issued Nov 12, 2002)
"Methods and Compositions for Making Dendritic Cells from Expanded Populations of Monocytes for Activating Cells." Edward L. Nelson, Susan L. Strobl; 

U.S. Patent No. 7,446,185, (Issued November 4, 2008)
“HER 2/neu Target Antigen and Use of Same to Stimulate an Immune Response.” Edward L. Nelson

Available Technologies
Publications Westerhof, T.M., Williams, G., Guan Z., Bachman, M., Li, G-P., Nelson, E.L. Multicolor Immunofluorescent Cell Surface Marker Detection of Single Adherent Cells: Functionalizing the Micropallet Array Towards the Analysis of Human Primary Tumor Cell Subsets. Adv Healthc Mater. 2016 Apr 6;5(7):767-71. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201500859, Epub 2016 Feb 29. PMID: 26924570
  Iyer N.S., Osann K., Hsieh S., Tucker J. A., Nelson E.L., Wenzel L Health Behaviors in Cervical Cancer Survivors and Associations with Quality of Life. Clinical Therapeutics 2016 38(3):467-75. DOI: PMID: 26926320
  Molino N.M., Neek M., Tucker J.A., Nelson E.L., Wang S.W. Viral-Mimicking Protein Nanoparticles For Inducing Tumor Antigen-Specific Cd8+ T Cell Responses. Biomaterials 2016 86:83-91. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2016.01.056 PMID: 26894870
  Cox-Muranami W, Nelson E.L, Li GP, Bachman M. Large Area Magnetic Micropallet Arrays for Cell Colony Sorting. Lab Chip. 2015 Dec 15;16(1):172-81. doi: 10.1039/c5lc01131k. PMID: 26606460
  Wenzel L., Osann K, Hsieh S, Monk, B.J., Nelson E.L. Psychosocial Telephone Counseling for Cervical Cancer Survivors: Results of a Randomized Biobehavioral Trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, J Clin Oncol. 2015 Apr 1;33(10):1171-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.4079. Epub 2015 Feb 23. PMID: 25713429
  Ghochikyan, A., Pichugin, A., Bagaev, A., Davtyan, A., Hovakimyan A., Tukhvatulin, A., Davtyan, H., Shcheblyakov, D., Logunov, D., Chulkina, M., Savilova, A., Trofimov, D., Nelson, E.L., Agadjanyan, M.G., Ataullakhanov, R.I. Anti-tumor activity of a pharmaceutical grade, plant-derived TLR-4-agonist in the 4T1 post-resection metastatic breast cancer model. J Transl Med. 2014 Nov 29;12(1):322. doi: 10.1186/s12967-014-0322-y. PMID 25432242
  Osann K, Hsieh S, Nelson E L, Wenzel L. Factors Associated with Poor Quality of Life among Cervical Cancer Survivors: Implications for Clinical Care. Gynecol Oncol. 2014 Nov;135(2):266-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.08.036. Epub 2014 Sep 3. PMID: 25192629
  Nelson E.L. HER2/neu: an increasingly important therapeutic target. Part 3: clinical applications and investigations. Clinical Investigation (2014), 4(9), 791–823. doi:10.4155/cli.14.63
  Nelson E.L. HER2/neu: an increasingly important therapeutic target. Part 2: Distribution of HER2/neu overexpression and gene amplification by organ, tumor site and histology. Clinical Investigation (2014), 4(8), 705–728. doi:10.4155/cli.14.62
  Nelson E.L. HER2/neu: An increasingly important therapeutic target: Part 1 Basic Biology & Therapeutic Armamentarium. Clin. Invest. (2014) 4(7),649–671
  Luo J., Nelson, E.L., Li, G-P., Bachman, M. Microfluidic Dielectrophoretic Sorter Using Gel Vertical Electrodes. Biomicrofluidics. 2014 May 23;8(3):034105. doi: 10.1063/1.4880244. PMID: 24926390
  Ghochikyan A, Davtyan A, Hovakimyan A, Davtyan H, Poghosyan A, Bagaev A, Ataullakhanov RI, Nelson EL, Agadjanyan MG. Primary 4T1 tumor resection provides critical "window of opportunity" for immunotherapy. Clin Exp Metastasis. 2014 Feb;31(2):185-98. doi: 10.1007/s10585-013-9619-0. PMID: 24096737 PMCID: PMC3946940
  Molino N.M., Anderson, A.K.L., Nelson E.L.,Wang, S.W. Biomimetic Protein Nanoparticles Facilitate Enhanced Dendritic Cell Activation and Cross-Presentation. ACS Nano. 2013 Nov 26;7(11):9743-52. doi: 10.1021/nn403085w. PMID: 24090491
  Biegler K.A., Anderson A.K.L., Wenzel L.B., Osann K., Nelson E.L, Longitudinal Change in Telomere Length and the Chronic Stress Response in a Randomized Pilot Biobehavioral Clinical Study: Implications for Cancer Prevention. Cancer Prev Res Oct;5(10):1173-82. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0008 [Epub ahead of print Jul 24 2012] PMID: 22827974
  Mkrtichyan M., Ghochikyan A., Davtyan H., Movsesyan N., Loukinov D., Lobanenkov V., Cribbs D.H., Laust A.K., Nelson E.L. and Agadjanyan M.G. Cancer-testis antigen, BORIS based vaccine delivered by dendritic cells is extremely effective against a very aggressive and highly metastatic mouse mammary carcinoma. Cell Immunol. 2011 May 12. PMID: 21641588
  Casey S.C., Nelson E.L., Turco G., Janes M.R., Fruman D.A., and Blumberg B. B-1 Cell Lymphoma in Mice Lacking the Steroid and Xenobiotic Receptor, SXR. Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Jun;25(6):933-43. Epub 2011 Mar 24. PMID: 21436254
  Gunn NM, Chang R, Westerhof T, Li G.P., Bachman M., Nelson E.L. Ferromagnetic Micropallets for Magnetic Capture of Single Adherent Cells. Langmuir 10/2010 doi: 10.1021/la101960v. PMID: 20968293
  Nawarathna, D., Chang R., Nelson E. and Kumar Wickramasinghe H. Targeted messenger RNA Profiling of Transfected Breast Cancer Gene in a Living Cell. Anal Biochem. 2011 Aug 17. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2010.08.014 PMID: 20723536
  Gunn N.M., Bachman M., Li G.P., Nelson E.L. Fabrication and biological evaluation of uniform extracellular matrix coatings on discontinuous photolithography generated micropallet arrays. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2010 Nov;95(2):401-12. PMID: 20648537
  Nishimoto K.P., Laust A.K., Nelson E.L. A Human Dendritic Cell Subset Receptive to the Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus-Derived Replicon Particle Constitutively Expresses IL-32. Journal of Immunology, Sept 15 2008, 181: 4010–4018.
  Gunn N. M., Li G. P., Nelson E.L., Bachman M. Micropallet Technology for Investigating Tumor Cellular Profiles and Analysis of Rare Cell Subsets. Proceedings of BioMed2008, 3rd Frontiers in Biomedical Devices Conference, June 18-20, 2008, Irvine, California, USA.
  Nelson E.L, Wenzel LB, Osann K, Dogan Ates A, Chantana N, Reina-Patton A, Laust AK, Nishimoto KP, Chicz-DeMet A, du Pont N, Monk BJ. Stress, Immunity, and Cervical Cancer: Biobehavioral Outcomes of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Clin Cancer Res. April 1, 2008;14(7):2111-18.
  Nishimoto K.P., Newkirk D, Hou S, Fruehauf J, Nelson E.L. Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) Using RNALater to Minimize RNA Degradation and Perturbation of mRNA Expression from Cells Involved in Initial Host Microbe Interactions. Journal of Microbiological Methods Ap 2007, doi:10.1016/j.mimet.2007.03.022.
  Laust A.K., Wang K., Sur B.W.R., Hubby B., Smith J.F., Nelson E.L. VRP immunotherapy targeting neu: treatment efficacy and evidence for immunoediting in a stringent rat mammary tumor model. Breast Cancer Res Treat, Mar 10, 2007, DOI 10.1007/s10549-007-9517-8, Dec 2007, 106 (3):371-82.
  Nishimoto K.P., Laust A, Wang K, Van C., Kamrud K.I., Fralish B., Smith J.F., Nelson E.L. Restricted and selective tropism of a Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus-derived replicon vector for human dendritic cells. 2007 Viral Immunol 20, 88-104.
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
Other Experience  
Graduate Programs Cellular and Molecular Biosciences
Research Centers Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center,
  Institute for Immunology,
  NSF-IGERT LifeChips Program
  Cancer Research Institute
  Head, Breast Cancer Research Group