Hematologic Malignancies & Cellular Therapy

Program Leadership

Nelson Chao, MD, MBA
David Rizzieri, MD
Assoc. Director, Clinical Research
Yiping Yang, MD, PhD
Assoc. Director, Basic Science


The Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy (HMCT) Program is a multidisciplinary basic, translational and clinical research effort whose overall goal is to improve outcomes for patients with hematologic malignancies. The broad, long-term goal of the HMCT Program is to build on and extend the current knowledge in the fields of leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, hematopoietic cell transplantation, and immunotherapy, and to develop and implement novel strategies for improving therapeutic results in these patients through a collaborative and integrated approach involving all the investigators in the program.

Research Focus Areas

There are several areas of research. Broadly, these can be divided into: a) basic research into the tumor microenvironment, bone marrow niche, b) basic understanding of immunity, both inate and adaptive, c) genomics, including a genomics core, d) cellular therapies such as hematopoietic stem cells, adotive immunotherapy with selected T cells, NK cells, dendritic cell vaccines, gamma delta T cells, e) graft-versus-host disease and graft-versus-leukemia effects, and f) cell signaling pathways in normal and tumor cells.  

Specific Aims

  • To understand hematopoietic stem cell biology and optimize stem cell graft for allogeneic and autologous stem cell transplantation;
  • To understand the basic biology of graft versus tumor (GvT) and graft versus host disease (GvHD), and to improve GvT without significant GvHD;
  • To understand the biology of T, B and NK cells and develop novel immunotherapeutic strategies;
  • To develop genomic signatures for hematologic malignancies and understand mechanisms underlying leukemogenesis or lymphomagenesis;
  • To design and execute novel Phase I and Phase II clinical trials in hematologic malignancies based on novel laboratory discoveries within the Program

CAR T-Cell Therapy 

We are one of the few centers trained to administer a new class of treatments called CAR T-cell therapy (brand name: Yescarta). The gene therapy transforms a person’s own cells into cells that attack and destroy cancer cells. People with advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who have failed chemotherapy may be candidates for this one-time treatment. People who are interested in being evaluated for this therapy must have their physician provide a referral. Once an appointment is made, one of our navigators will work with you to determine if this is an appropriate therapy. For more information, please call 919.684.8964.

Clinical Trials

Duke Cancer Institute has a robust clinical trials office with over 100 active clinical trials specific to hematologic malignancies and transplantation. These range from phase I “first in humans” to randomized phase III studies. Search our clinical trials for the treatment of lymphomas,  leukemia and multiple myeloma, and for trials in bone marrow transplant and cellular therapies.

Additional Contacts

Gabriel Alcantara, MBA, Administrative Director
Phone: 919.668.2121

Julia Hoyle, Assistant Research Practice Manager
Phone: 919.668.1016

Make An Appointment

To make an appointment, please call 919.684.8964 for Hematologic Malignancies or CAR T-cell therapy, or call 919.668.1027 for Adult Bone Marrow Transplant.

For more information on blood cancer care at Duke Health, visit:

To find a doctor, visit Find A Specialist.