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Paul Nghiem

Paul Nghiem MD, PhD

George F. Odland Endowed Chair and Head, Division of Dermatology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Dr. Paul Nghiem (pronounced KNEE-em) is the George F. Odland Endowed Chair and Head of the Division of Dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He sees patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and is an affiliate investigator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

He grew up in Olympia, Washington, attended Harvard College and then obtained MD and PhD degrees at Stanford University where he studied Cancer Biology and Immunology.

He did his medicine internship at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed by Dermatology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. He worked on UV-DNA damage responses as a Howard Hughes Post-Doctoral Fellow with Stuart Schreiber in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

In 2003, he started his own lab at the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 2006, together with their two young boys, he and his wife moved 'home' to Seattle. He has published over 150 papers that in aggregate have been cited over 11,990 times.

In 1996, as a dermatology resident, Dr. Nghiem saw a man with a firm lesion on the lip that turned out to be his first case of Merkel cell carcinoma. He was later encouraged by his professors to write a book chapter on this rare disease. Surprisingly, MCC patients began coming regularly to his clinic for help with this complicated cancer. 

Today, he leads a multi-disciplinary team focused on improving management of MCC. Studies led by his team resulted in the first two approved therapies for MCC, as well as a blood test that is routinely used to detect recurrent MCC earlier and more reliably than scans.

He has several grants from the NIH, including a Program Project Grant that brings together diverse scientists to study the immune response to MCC and the Merkel polyomavirus that typically causes this cancer.

Given his long-term interest in cancer biology and immunology, Dr. Nghiem feels very fortunate to study a disease in which cancer immunology can improve the lives of patients.


Dr. Nghiem is a paid consultant for EMD Serono & Merck.