Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD

Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD

Affiliate Investigator
Clinical Research Division
Director, Skin Oncology Clinical Program
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
George F. Odland Endowed Chair in Dermatology
University of Washington
Head of Dermatology
University of Washington
Professor of Dermatology/Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Oral Health Sciences and Pathology
University of Washington


Ph.D. and M.D., Stanford University, 1994


  • Dr. Nghiem is discovering new ways to prevent and treat skin cancers
    by studying the systems that control cell division. These systems help
    prevent cells with damaged DNA from reproducing and, when they
    malfunction, can affect cells’ chances of becoming cancerous.
  • One part of such systems is an enzyme called ATR. Dr. Nghiem
    demonstrated that caffeine can protect against the cancer-causing
    effects of ultraviolet light by interfering with ATR and leading damaged
    cells to self-destruct. He is now investigating the mechanisms behind
    this effect, with the goal of gaining insights into ways to harness these
    mechanisms to better prevent skin cancer.
  • Dr. Nghiem is one of the world’s foremost experts on a rare, deadly
    and difficult-to-treat skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma. His
    research has identified genetic mutations that may drive MCC and
    shed light on how a specific virus may trigger tumor development.
  • As a pioneer of immunotherapy for MCC, his team leads an earlyphase
    clinical trial that uses MCC patients’ own immune cells to target
    the cancer. Another ongoing trial explores the use of a molecule
    designed to stimulate patients’ immune systems. Encouraging initial
    results suggest that immunotherapies may be potent strategies for
    treating this disease.
  • Dr. Nghiem has studied methods to differentiate and treat different
    types of skin inflammation, including graft-vs.-host disease (when
    transplanted tissues attack the body) and eczema.
  • As a practicing physician, Dr. Nghiem treats patients with melanoma,
    MCC and other skin cancers at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Honors / Awards

Elected in 2014 to the American Society for Clinical Investigation
American Cancer Society Legacy & Leadership Award: Find Cures Award in 2012
George F. Odland Endowed Chair in Dermatology at UW, 2015

Dr. Paul Nghiem explains how his team uses immunotherapy to combat a rare, often misdiagnosed form of skin cancer. Nghiem is affiliate investigator in Fred Hutch’s Clinical Research Division, head of dermatology at the University of Washington and director of the Skin Oncology Clinical Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. To arrange an interview with Dr. Nghiem, please contact media relations at (206) 667-2210 or email

Related News

Additional Links & Information

Related Labs & Projects

View all labs & projects >
Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD

Contact Information

(206) 221-2632
(206) 221-4364