James Lee, MD

Clinical Fellow
Radiation Oncology

I am a physician-scientist with clinical expertise in cancer immunotherapy and melanoma. As a cancer immunology researcher, I have trained in the labs of immunotherapy pioneers Drs. Michel Sadelain, Renier Brentjens, Jedd Wolchok, and Jeff Bluestone. I now lead a lab with a research focus on improving checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive T cell therapy using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to cure metastatic solid tumors. My research expertise is in the design of the next generation of CARs and combination checkpoint immunotherapy using immunocompetent mouse models that best mimic the clinic, in the setting of a tolerant/suppressive tumor microenvironment in solid malignancies and cancer metastasis.

Translating recent advancements in cellular cancer immunotherapy to metastatic solid tumors has been especially challenging, and this is highlighted by the lack of clinical response outside of the CD19 ideal antigen as the target. Current forms of therapy are likely insufficient to overcome the naturally tolerogenic microenvironment evolved to protect against autoimmunity across organ sites. Using the liver as a model organ of immune tolerance, we discovered the putative mechanisms of tumor escape to checkpoint inhibitor therapy in the setting of liver metastases and are now working on developing strategies to overcome them.

I hope to see cancer immunotherapeutics become a mainstream form of treatment that is capable of providing durable and curative responses for stage IV cancers.

Past Professional Experience:

Clinical Instructor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY. July 2012-July 2013

Clinical Instructor, University of California, San Francisco, CA. July 2013-July 2014


Medical School: Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. September 2003-May 2009

Research Fellowship: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY. 2006-2009.

Residency: Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY. July 2009-June 2012

ABIM Board Certifications:

Internal Medicine. 2012

Medical Oncology. 2021


ATF7ip Targets Transposable Elements for H3K9me3 Deposition to Modify CD8+ T Cell Effector and Memory Responses.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Sin JH, Kashyap S, Acenas D, Cortez JT, Lee J, Marson A, Matloubian M, Waterfield MR

Tissue-specific Tregs in cancer metastasis: opportunities for precision immunotherapy.

Cellular & molecular immunology

Huppert LA, Green MD, Kim L, Chow C, Leyfman Y, Daud AI, Lee JC

The Liver-Immunity Nexus and Cancer Immunotherapy.

Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Lee JC, Green MD, Huppert LA, Chow C, Pierce RH, Daud AI

XYZeq: Spatially resolved single-cell RNA sequencing reveals expression heterogeneity in the tumor microenvironment.

Science advances

Lee Y, Bogdanoff D, Wang Y, Hartoularos GC, Woo JM, Mowery CT, Nisonoff HM, Lee DS, Sun Y, Lee J, Mehdizadeh S, Cantlon J, Shifrut E, Ngyuen DN, Roth TL, Song YS, Marson A, Chow ED, Ye CJ

Regulatory T cell control of systemic immunity and immunotherapy response in liver metastasis.

Science immunology

Lee JC, Mehdizadeh S, Smith J, Young A, Mufazalov IA, Mowery CT, Daud A, Bluestone JA

Tumor Immune Profiling-Based Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy for Locally Advanced Melanoma.

Annals of surgical oncology

Levine LS, Mahuron KM, Tsai KK, Wu C, Mattis DM, Pauli ML, Oglesby A, Lee JC, Spitzer MH, Krummel MF, Algazi AP, Rosenblum MD, Alvarado M, Daud AI

Novel circulating tumor cell-based blood test for the assessment of PD-L1 protein expression in treatment-naïve, newly diagnosed patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII

Chen YL, Huang WC, Lin FM, Hsieh HB, Hsieh CH, Hsieh RK, Chen KW, Yen MH, Lee J, Su S, Marfatia T, Chang SE, Sundar P, Patterson B, Watson D, Mei R, Javey M

Cytokines, Chemokines, and Other Biomarkers of Response for Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy in Skin Cancer.

Frontiers in medicine

Bridge JA, Lee JC, Daud A, Wells JW, Bluestone JA

Collateral Damage: Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Induced With Checkpoint Inhibitors.


Stamatouli AM, Quandt Z, Perdigoto AL, Clark PL, Kluger H, Weiss SA, Gettinger S, Sznol M, Young A, Rushakoff R, Lee J, Bluestone JA, Anderson M, Herold KC

Partially exhausted tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes predict response to combination immunotherapy.

JCI insight

Loo K, Tsai KK, Mahuron K, Liu J, Pauli ML, Sandoval PM, Nosrati A, Lee J, Chen L, Hwang J, Levine LS, Krummel MF, Algazi AP, Pampaloni M, Alvarado MD, Rosenblum MD, Daud AI

Maintenance of macrophage transcriptional programs and intestinal homeostasis by epigenetic reader SP140.

Science immunology

Mehta S, Cronkite DA, Basavappa M, Saunders TL, Adiliaghdam F, Amatullah H, Morrison SA, Pagan JD, Anthony RM, Tonnerre P, Lauer GM, Lee JC, Digumarthi S, Pantano L, Ho Sui SJ, Ji F, Sadreyev R, Zhou C, Mullen AC, Kumar V, Li Y, Wijmenga C, Xavier RJ, Means TK, Jeffrey KL

Shifting the Evolving CAR T Cell Platform into Higher Gear.

Cancer cell

Holohan DR, Lee JC, Bluestone JA

Tumor-targeted T cells modified to secrete IL-12 eradicate systemic tumors without need for prior conditioning


Lee JC*, Pegram HJ*, Hayman EG, Imperato GH, Tedder TF, Sadelain M, Brentjens RJ

Sensitive in vivo imaging of T cells using a membrane-bound Gaussia princeps luciferase.

Nature medicine

Santos EB, Yeh R, Lee J, Nikhamin Y, Punzalan B, Punzalan B, La Perle K, Larson SM, Sadelain M, Brentjens RJ

Inventing New CARs: Analysis of Chimeric Antigen Receptor Gene-Targeted T cells Modified to Overcome Regulatory T cell Suppression in the Tumor Microenvironment. Yale University MD Thesis. 2009

Inventing New CARs: Analysis of Chimeric Antigen Receptor Gene-Targeted T cells Modified to Overcome Regulatory T cell Suppression in the Tumor Microenvironment. Yale University MD Thesis. 2009.

Retroviral transduction of murine primary T lymphocytes.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)

Lee J, Sadelain M, Brentjens R