Richard Edelson

Dr. Edelson graduated from the Yale Medical School (YMS), trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, Dermatology at Harvard and Immunology at the National Institutes of Health. After a decade on the faculty of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he served as Deputy Director of that institution’s General Clinical Research Center and as Leader of the Immunology Program of its Cancer Center, he returned to Yale University, as Professor and Chairman of its Department of Dermatology, a position he has held continuously from 1986 to present. From 2000-2003, he also served as YMS Deputy Dean for Clinical Affairs, and from 2003 to 2009, he was also the Director of the YMS Cancer Center. He has recently been honored with several awards, including Castle Connolly “National Physician of the Year”, the Dermatology Foundation “National Discovery Award” and the American Skin Foundation “National Mentor of the Year”. 

His career links five synergistic clinical and research themes. First, he has focused on the development and implementation of cellular immunotherapy for a lymphoma, cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL), which he originally discovered, named and scientifically elucidated. Second, he was the originator of extracorporeal photochemotherapy (ECP), the first FDA-approved cellular immunotherapy for any cancer. That therapy has to date been administered more than three million times in over 500 university medical centers worldwide, in the care for more than 60 thousand patients as treatment for CTCL and transplant recipients. Third, his team determined that the scientific basis of ECP’s efficacy is its physiologic generation of monocyte conversion to dendritic antigen presenting cells, the master-switches of the immune system. Fourth, that discovery restructuring ECP for broader clinical application. With that new scientific understanding, ECP can now potentially be tailored to the individual patient’s clinical need to potentially treat virtually any immunogenic cancer, autoimmune disease, transplant or serious allergic reaction. Essentially, ECP enables a dynamic partnership between the clinician and the physiologic immune system, by marshaling the pinpoint specificity of a patient’s T cells. Because of the enormous scope of those opportunities, for which he has long aimed, he considers the current phase of his career its wonderfully challenging culmination. Fifth, due mainly to their own efforts and abilities, he is proud of the accomplishments of the prominence the faculty and trainees of the Yale Dermatology Department, during his three decades of continuing leadership.

During his third student year at Yale Medical School, Dr. Edelson married Ruth Cheris, who was at that time a master’s degree candidate in the Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health. Mrs. Edelson then received her law degree from Northwestern University, prior to becoming a senior regulatory attorney, Director of Special Projects and Board member at Johnson & Johnson, over her twenty years with that company. She is now enjoying her second career as a jewelry designer. Together, they raised two sons, Andrew (Hamilton College grad), a US government consultant employed at Deloitte and Ari (Yale College grad), a theatrical director. Each son is now married, with two young sons of their own.