David G. Nathan, MD

President Emeritus, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Office Phone: 617-632-2155
Appointment Phone: 617-355-8246, ext. 1
Fax: 617-632-2161
Preferred Contact Method: appointment phone


Treatment Centers
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Clinical Interests
Aplastic anemia, Sickle cell disease, Thalassemia


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA  02215


Board Certifications
Internal Medicine
National Cancer Institute, 1958
Brigham and Women's Hospital, 1959
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Medical School
Harvard Medical School, 1955
Dr. Nathan received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1955, and was senior resident in medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute. Between 1967 and 1984, he was chief of hematology at Children's Hospital Boston (CHB), and then chief of hematology and oncology at CHB and DFCI. He chaired the Department of Pediatrics from 1985 to 1995, and served as president of DFCI until 2000.
Treatment of Sickle Cell Crisis with Inhibitors of NKT cell activation RC2HL101367 2010-2012

This is a consortium grant of which I am clinical co-PI and my colleague Joel Linden of the LaJolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology is the basic science co-PI. Linden has studied sickle cell disease mice and found that inhibition of iNKT cells with either antibodies or adenosine analogues markedly improves pulmonary disease in these animals. Therefore Linden and I together with colleagues at Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Washington University in St Louis have established a program in which we intend to determine whether Lexiscan, an FDA approved adenosine analogue, can be administered safely in doses capable of inhibiting iNKT cells in sickle cell anemia patients. After a satisfactory dose is determined, we will treat such patients with Lexiscan with the hope that the drug will reduce the impact of both painful vaso-occlusive crises and acute chest syndrome. We now have FDA and local IRB approval. Patient accrual should begin in March of 2010. The first experiments will be dose finding efforts. Meanwhile Linden and co-workers are searching in the laboratory for better drugs and antibodies that may be more effective than Lexiscan in blunting of the adenosine A2a receptors that richly decorate INKT cells without activating other classes of adenosine receptors on the vascular endothelial cells.

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Harvard Medical Affiliate

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As a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, our physicians are passing on their expertise to the next generation of pediatric hematologists and oncologists.