Nai-Kong V. Cheung, MD, PhD

About Me

I am a pediatric oncologist who specializes in immunologic approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancers. My main focus is the treatment of neuroblastoma, a tumor that arises from primitive cells of the sympathetic nervous system and that primarily affects young children.

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My colleagues and I have developed multi-modality therapies, which include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, isotretinoin (a vitamin A derivative), and more importantly, targeted therapy with monoclonal antibodies. These treatment strategies have dramatically improved the survival for our patients with metastatic neuroblastoma. Today, more than 50 percent of these patients treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering survive the disease, compared to fewer than 5 percent in the 1980s. In fact, immunotherapy has now become the standard of care for patients with metastatic neuroblastoma. Moreover, localized neuroblastoma is curable today, and many patients with can be treated effectively with surgery alone.

We are also actively involved in early clinical trials of novel therapies, including biologic agents and vaccines, natural killer cells, and combinations of these novel therapies with conventional treatments. We hope that effective strategies for neuroblastoma will provide a paradigm for other metastatic solid tumors affecting children and adolescents.

In the laboratory we are evaluating markers of minimal residual disease, which may predict early metastasis and recurrence; discovering novel tumor targets; and engineering next-generation antibodies to make them more potent and “human-like,” as well as arming these antibodies with either T lymphocytes or powerful radioactive isotopes for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroblastoma. We believe many of these novel antibodies have potential applications for other solid tumors in adolescents and even in adults.

We are screening new drugs that can overcome the resistance that neuroblastoma often develops after prolonged treatment with chemotherapy. We are also trying to unmask the genetic and biochemical makeup of neuroblastoma tumors to determine if the tumor profile at the time of diagnosis, metastasis, or relapse can tell us how aggressive a tumor may be, and what kind of therapy may be most effective. Our major thrust continues to be the translation of novel therapies to help our patients.

The team of experts at Memorial Sloan Kettering treats more patients with neuroblastoma than at any other institution in the world. With evidence-based treatment approaches, our expertise translates to better patient outcomes. Families who come to us benefit from the dedication and compassion of individuals from various disciplines who share the vision and the desire to eradicate this devastating disease.

  • Clinical Expertise: Pediatric Oncology; Neuroblastoma and Developmental Tumors of Childhood; Immunotherapy; Autologous Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, Harvard Medical School; PhD, Harvard Medical School
  • Residencies: Pediatrics - Stanford University
  • Fellowships: Pediatric Hematology/Oncology - Stanford University
  • Board Certifications: Pediatrics; Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

My Research

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See Nai-Kong V. Cheung’s laboratory
research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

See My Colleagues


Cheung NK, Zhang J, Lu C, Parker M, Bahrami A, Tickoo SK, Heguy A, Pappo AS, Federico S, Dalton J, Cheung IY, Ding L, Fulton B, Wang J, Chen X, Becksfort J, Wu J,. Billups CA, Ellison D, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing JR, Dyer MA. Association of age at diagnosis and genetic mutations in patients with neuroblastoma. JAMA.  307:1062-1071.

Cheung IY, Katharine Hsu, Cheung NKV.  Activation of Peripheral-Blood Granulocytes Is Strongly Correlated With Patient Outcome After Immunotherapy With Anti-GD2 Monoclonal Antibody and Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor.  Journal of Clinical Oncology. 30:426-432, 2012.

Tassev DV, Cheng M, Cheung NKV. Retargeting NK92 cells using an HLA-A2-restricted, EBNA3C-specific chimeric antigen receptor.   Cancer Gene Therapy. 19:84-100, 2012.

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Kushner BH, Kramer K, Modak S, Cheung NKV.  Successful Multifold Dose Escalation of Anti-GD2 Monoclonal Antibody 3F8 in Patients With Neuroblastoma: A Phase I Study.  Journal of Clinical Oncology, 29:1168-1174, 2011.

Xu H, Cheung IY, Wei XX, Tran H, Gao X, Cheung NKC.  Checkpoint kinase inhibitor synergizes with DNA-damaging agents in G(1) checkpoint-defective neuroblastoma.  International Journal of Cancer, 129:1953-1962, 2011.

He P, Kramer K, Smith-Jones P, Zanzonico P, Humm J, Larson SM, Cheung NKV.  Two-compartment model of radioimmunotherapy delivered through cerebrospinal   European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 38:334-342, 2010 .

Kramer K, Kushner BH, Modak S, Pandit-Taskar N, Smith-Jones P, Zanzonico P, Humm JL, Xu H, Wolden SL, Souweidane MM, Larson SM, Cheung NK.  Compartmental intrathecal radioimmunotherapy: results for treatment for metastatic CNS neuroblastoma.  Journal of Neurooncology, 97:409-418, 2010.

Hu J, Huang XD, Ling CC, Bundle, Cheung NKV.  Reducing epitope spread during affinity maturation of an anti-ganglioside GD2 antibody.  Journal of Immunology 183:5748-5755, 2009.

Xu H, Cheung IY, Guo HF, Cheung NK.  MicroRNA miR-29 Modulates Expression of Immunoinhibitory Molecule B7-H3: Potential Implications for Immune Based Therapy of Human Solid Tumors.  Cancer Research 69:6275-6281, 2009.

Cheung IY, Feng Y, Gerald W, Cheung NK.  Exploiting gene expression profiling to identify novel minimal residual disease markers of neuroblastoma.  Clinical Cancer Research, 14:7020-7027, 2008.

Tassev DV and Cheung NKV.  Monoclonal antibody therapies for solid tumors.  Expert Opinion On Biological Therapy (Informa Healthcare) 9:341-353, 2009.

Hu J, Cheung NK.  Methionine depletion with recombinant methioninase: In vitro and in vivo efficacy against neuroblastoma and its synergism with chemotherapeutic drugs.  International J. of Cancer 124:1700-1706, 2009.

Kushner BH, Cheung NK.  Neuroblastoma: Linking a Common Allele to a Rare Disease.   New England Journal of Medicine 358:2585-2593, 2008.

Modak S, Kushner BH, Laquaglia MP, Kramer K, Cheung NK.  Management and outcome of INSS stage 3 neuroblastoma.  European Journal of Cancer, 45:90-98, 2008.

Kushner BH, Kramer K, Modak S, and Cheung NKV.  Sensitivity of Surveillance Studies for Detecting Asymptomatic and Unsuspected Relapse of High-Risk Neuroblastoma. J. Clinical Oncology 27:1041-1046, 2008.

Cheung NK. Chapter 34. Therapeutic antibodies and immunologic conjugates. In Clinical Oncology 4th ed. Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG (ed). Elsevier, Churchill, Livingstone. 2008.

Luther N, Cheung NK, Dunkel IJ, Fraser JF, Edgar MA, Gutin PH, Souweidane MM.  Intraparenchymal and intratumoral interstitial infusion of anti-glioma monoclonal antibody 8H9. Neurosurgery, 63:1166-1174, 2008.

Kushner BH, Cheung NK.  Neuroblastoma—from genetic profiles to clinical challenge.  New England Journal of Medicine 353: 2215-2217, 2005.


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Nai-Kong V. Cheung’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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