Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.


B.A., Anthropology, Summa Cum Laude, University of Minnnesota, 1987-1991
Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota Graduate School, 1993-1997
M.D., University of Minnesota Medical School, 1991-1998
Internship and Residency, Cornell University Medical College, 1998-2001
Residency, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1998-2001
Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine, 2001-2011
Clinical Fellowship, Immunology, Cornell University Medical College, 2001-2002
Post-Graduate Clinical Training, Medical Oncology/Hematology, University of Louisville, 2003-2005

Curriculum Vitae

Current Positions:

Deputy Director
, J. Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville
Professor, Depts. of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Pharmacology/Toxicology
Director, J. Graham Brown Cancer Center Clinical Research Program and Biorepository
Chairman, Medical Oncology and Hematology Data and Safety Monitoring Committee

Contact Information:


Clinical Focus and Research:

Dr. Chesney's clinical focus is on multi-disciplinary approaches to the treatment of metastatic melanoma and multiple solid tumor types including lung, colon, breast and kidney cancers.  He works with with Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D. (Medical Oncology), Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D. (Surgical Oncology), and Craig Silverman, M.D., (Radiation Oncology) to ensure that their patients receive the most effective combination of treatment modalities and have access to the most innovative drugs for the treatment of melanoma and all types of cancer.

His group’s immunotherapeutic clinical trials program is focused on testing novel approaches to cause durable remissions through induction of tumor immunity in advanced solid malignancies. They were the first to demonstrate that denileukin diftitox, an FDA-approved agent for a rare sub-type of lymphoma, can deplete T regulatory cells that normally suppress immunity against cancers, causing objective clinical responses in stage IV melanoma patients (1).  Based on the success of the denileukin diftitox trial, Dr. Chesney became interested in blocking other immune checkpoints such as CTLA4 that prevent immune responses against cancers. He served as the institutional Principal Investigator on a randomized Phase II dose-ranging study of a novel anti-CTLA4 antibody (ipilimumab) (2) and a Phase I single arm study to establish the safety of administering another anti-CTLA4 antibody (tremelimumab) (3).  The positive results of these two sponsored trials has resulted in the development of several trials that rationally combine anti-CTLA4 antibodies with other immunotherapies including GM-CSF (clinicaltrials.gov NCT02009397), IL-21 (NCT01489059), denileukin diftitox (NCT02009384), the oncolytic virus, T-VEC  (NCT01740297, NCT02014441, NCT02211131, NCT02297529, NCT00769704) (4), and the anti-PD1, nivolumab (NCT01927419) (5). Importantly, the Dr. Chesney's clinical research team at the J. Graham Brown Cancer Center and his colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center were the top two accruing centers worldwide to find that the combination of two immune checkpoint inhibitors, ipilimumab and nivolumab, resulted in the highest objective response rate ever observed after treatment with an immunotherapy (5). Dr. Chesney's research laboratory also is focused on the pre-clinical development of novel experimental therapeutics and, working with Dr. John Trent and Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, they have discovered a drug called PFK158 that blocks cancer sugar metabolism and that is currently undergoing evaluation by Dr. Rebecca Redman in a phase I trial (Phase 1 Safety Study of ACT-PFK-158, 2HCl in Patients With Advanced Solid Malignancies, clinicaltrials.gov #NCT02044861).

Dr. Chesney is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program and the National Center for Research Resources as well as multiple pharmaceutical sponsors.  He serves as a reviewer on multiple National Cancer Institute subcommittees to evaluate Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs), Tumor Cell Biology and P30-Designated Cancer Center grants. He has been named a Top Doctor by U.S. News and World Report for Solid Tumors and Clinical Trials and is the recipient of the Kentucky Derby Julep Scientist of the Year Award.

Learn more about Dr. Chesney's basic research on cancer metabolism and experimental therapeutics.


Literature Cited:

  1. Telang, S. Rasku, M. A., Clem, A. L., Carter, K., Klarer, A. C., Badger, W. R.,  Milam, R. A., Rai, S. N., Pan, J., Gragg, H., Clem, B. F., McMasters, K. M., Miller, D. M. and Chesney J.  Phase II trial of the regulatory T cell-depleting agent, denileukin diftitox, in patients with unresectable stage iv melanoma. BMC Cancer, 11(1):515-523, 2011.  PMID: 22165955.
  2. Wolchok JD, Neyns B, Linette G, Negrier S, Lutzky J, Thomas L, Waterfield W, Schadendorf D, Smylie M, Guthrie T Jr, Grob JJ, Chesney J, Chin K, Chen K, Hoos A, O'Day SJ, Lebbé C. Ipilimumab monotherapy in patients with pretreated advanced melanoma: a randomised, double-blind, multicentre, phase 2, dose-ranging study. Lancet Oncology 11(2):155-164. 2010.  PMID: 20004617
  3. Ribas, A., Chesney, J., Gordon, M.S., Aberneth, A. P., Logan, T. F., Lawson, D. H., Chmielowksi, B., Huang, B., Wang, E., Poe-Hirr, H., Gomez-Navarro, J., Gerhardt, D., Marshall, M. A., and Gonzalez, R. C. Safety profile and pharmacokinetic analysis of the anti-CTLA4 antibody tremelimumab administered as a one hour infusion. Journal of Translational Medicine, 10(1):236, 2012.  PMID: 23171508.
  4. Andtbacka, R., Kaufman, H., Collichio, F., Amatruda, T., Senzer, N., Chesney, J., Delman, K.A., Spitler, L.E., Puzanov, I., Agarwala, S.S., Milhem, M., Cranmer, L., Curti, B., Lewis, K., Ross, M., Guthrie, T., Linette, G.P., Daniels, G.A., Harrington, K., Middleton, M.R., Miller, W.H., Zager, J.S., Ye, Y., Yao, B., Li, A., Doleman, S.,  VanderWalde, A., Gansert, J. and Coffin, R.  Talimogene Laherparepvec Improves Durable Response Rate in Patients with Advanced Melanoma.  J Clin Oncol. 2015 Sep 1;33(25):2780-8  
  5. Postow, M.A., Chesney, J., Pavlick, A.C., Rober, C., Grossmann, K., McDermott, D., Linette, G., Meyer, N., Giguere, J. K., Agarwala, S., Shaheen, M., Ernstoff, M.S., Minor, D., Salama, A.K., Taylor, M., Ott, P.A., Rollin, L.M., Horak, C., Gagnier, P., Wolchok, J., Hodi, F. S.  Nivolumab and Ipilimumab versus Ipilimumab in Untreated Melanoma.New England Journal of Medicine 2015 May 21;372(21):2006-17.  
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