Chris Kepley

Professor of Immunology


  • PhD, Microbiology and Immunology, Medical College of Virginia, 1995
  • MBA, College of William and Mary, 2006
  • BS, Biology, James Madison University, 1987

Courses Taught

  • Biomedical Foundations
  • Research Electives in Immunology-focused areas

Professional Memberships

  • Fellow, American Academy Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)
  • American Association of Immunology (AAI)
  • Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SIC)


Christopher Kepley, PhD, is an immunologist and cancer immunotherapy researcher. His research focuses on a new strategy for adoptive cell transfer targeting to target and destroy tumor antigens. He is also researching the role of human mast cells in the pathology of alpha-gal (meat) allergy. Much of his work has involved understanding the cellular signaling pathways of human mast cells and basophils, the effects of nanomaterials on the immune system, and translating academic inspired ideas into useful products.

Dr. Kepley is a leading expert in human mast cell biology and has a new technology to harness the allergic response for cancer immunotherapy. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, several issued and pending patents, and serves on the editorial board for several journals.  His research was recognized internationally as the recipient of the Phadia Allergy Research Forum Award, the most prestigious international award in allergy research; and the Henning Løwenstein International Research Award for excellence in allergy research.  His teaching was recognized as the 2022 All Southern Conference Faculty Teaching award. Dr. Kepley is also the co-Founder of Kepley Biosystems Inc. that provides solutions for ocean sustainability.

Honors and Awards

  • Member of the National Faculty the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), in the Clinical Department of Foundational Biomedical Sciences – Microbiology/Immunology Division
  • Southern Conference Faculty Award for Teaching
  • Nominated for the Piedmont Triad Biotechnology Excellence Awards, Academic Development Excellence Award, N.C. Biotechnology Center
  • Winner of the Phadia Allergy Research Forum Award, European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, London, UK
  • Research Recognition Award, VCU School of Medicine
  • Recipient of the Henning Løwenstein International Research Award for excellence in allergy research, London, UK
  • First to be awarded the AAAAI Award for Outstanding Research Published in the J Allergy and Clinical Immunology
  • Pharmacia International Allergy Research Foundation Fellowship


  1. Kepley, CL, Human Lung Mast Cells as a Possible Reservoir for Coronavirus; an Unrecognized Mechanism for Sars-Cov-2 Immune-Mediated Pathology, Medical Hypotheses, submitted, 2/2022.
  2. Elnaz Ahzini, Mohammad Ferydoini, and Kepley, CL, 05/2022, Identification and characterization of tunneling nanotubes involved in human mast cell FceRI-mediated apoptosis of cancer cells, J. Immunology, submitted.
  3. Fereydouni M, Ahani E, Desai P, Motaghed M, Dellinger A, Metcalfe DD, Yen Y, Lee SH, Kafri T, Bhatt AP, Dellinger K and Kepley CL (2022) Human Tumor Targeted Cytotoxic Mast Cells for Cancer Immunotherapy. Frontiers in Oncology. 12:871390, in press.
  4. Mohammad Fereydouni , Mona Motaghad , Elnaz Ahani, Tal Kafri, Kristen Dellinger, Dean D. Metcalfe, and Kepley, CL, (2022) Harnessing the anti-tumor mediators in mast cells as a new strategy for adoptive cell transfer for cancer, Frontiers in Oncology. March 30, 12:871390.
  5. Rachel Tinker-Kulberg, Anthony Dellinger, Lisa Gentit, Bryan Fluech, Cole Wilder, Ivy Spratling, Kepley, CL, Lee Robertson, Melinda Goddard, Terry Brady, Lance Töland, Kristen Dellinger. Evaluation of Indoor and Outdoor Aquaculture Systems as Alternatives to Harvesting Hemolymph from Random Wild Capture of Horseshoe Crabs, Frontiers in Marine Science, October 22, 2020.
  6. Onyinye Iweala, Mohammad Fereydouni, Mona Motaghed, Camille Kapita, Scott Commins, Kepley, CL, Alpha-gal Induced Mediator Release by Human Mast Cells, J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. Volume 145, issue 2, February 01, 2020.
  7. Rachel Tinker-Kulberg, Kristen Dellinger, Terry E Brady, Lee Robertson, Frank M LaDuca, Kepley, CL, Anthony Dellinger. Horseshoe Crab Aquaculture as a Sustainable Endotoxin Testing Source. Frontiers in Marine Science, section Marine Conservation and Sustainability, 01 April 2020.
  8. Jesse D. Plotkin, Michael Elias, Tracy R. Daniels-Wells, Anthony Dellinger, Manuel L. Penichet, Kepley, CL, Human Mast Cells from Adipose Tissue Target and Induce Apoptosis of Breast Cancer Cells, Frontiers in Immunology, February 8, 2019.
  9. Ke Zhang, Michael Elias, Hong Zhang, Jeffrey Liu, Kepley, CL, Yun Bai, Dean Metcalfe, Zachary Schille, Yang Wang, Andrew Saxon. Inhibition of allergic reactivity through targeting FceRI-bound IgE with humanized low affinity antibodies, J. Immunology, October 21, 2019.
  10. Jesse D. Plotkin, Michael G. Elias, Anthony L. Dellinger, and Kepley, CL, NF-κB Inhibitors that Prevent Foam Cell Formation and Atherosclerotic Plaque Accumulation, Nanomedicine, 2017 Aug;13(6):2037-2048.
  11. Dellinger AL, Cunin P, Lee D, Kung AL, Brooks DB, Zhou Z, Nigrovic PA, Kepley, CL. Inhibition of inflammatory arthritis using fullerene nanomaterials. PLOS One. 2015 Apr 16;10(4).
  12. Anthony Dellinger, Zhiguo Zhou, James Connor, A.B. Madhankumar, Sarala Pamujula, Christie M. Sayes, and Kepley, CL. Application of fullerenes in nanomedicine: an update. Nanomedicine, 2013 Jul;8(7):1191-208.
  13. Ryan JJ, Bateman HR, Stover A, Gomez G, Norton SK, Zhao W, Kepley, CL. Fullerene nanomaterials inhibit the allergic response. J Immunol 2007; 179:665-72.
  14. Allen LC, Kepley, CL, Saxon A, Zhang K. Modifications to an Fcgamma-Fcvarepsilon fusion protein alter its effectiveness in the inhibition of FceRI-mediated functions. J. Allergy Clin Immunol 2007; 120:462-8.
  15. *(Zhu D, Kepley, CL), Zhang K, Terada T, Yamada T, Saxon A. A chimeric human-cat fusion protein blocks cat-induced allergy. Nature Medicine, 2005; 11:446-9. *Both contributed equally
  16. Kepley, CL, Taghavi S, Mackay G, Zhu D, Morel PA, Zhang K, et al. Co-aggregation of FcεRI with FcγRII on human mast cells inhibits antigen-induced secretion and involves SHIP-Grb2-Dok complexes. J. Biol Chem 2004; 279:35139-49.
  17. *(Zhu D, Kepley, CL), Zhang M, Zhang K, Saxon A. A novel human immunoglobulin Fcε-Fcγ bifunctional fusion protein inhibits FcεRI-mediated degranulation. Nature Medicine, 2002; 8:518-21. *Both contributed equally.
  18. Kepley, CL, McFeeley PJ, Oliver JM, Lipscomb MF. Immunohistochemical detection of human basophils in postmortem cases of fatal asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med2001; 164:1053-8.
  19. Kepley, CL, Youssef L, Andrews RP, Wilson BS, Oliver JM. Multiple defects in FcεRI signaling in Syk-deficient nonreleaser basophils and IL-3-induced recovery of Syk expression and secretion. J. Immunol 2000; 165:5913-20.
  20. Kepley, CL, Cambier JC, Morel PA, Lujan D, Ortega E, Wilson BS, et al. Negative regulation of FcεRI signaling by FcγRII costimulation in human blood basophils. J. Allergy Clin Immunol 2000; 106:337-48 (Won first AAAAI Award for Outstanding Research).
  21. Kepley, CL, Janet MO, et al. Multiple Defects in FcεRI Signaling in Syk-Deficient Non-Releaser Basophils and IL-3-Induced Recovery of Syk Expression and Secretion. J. Immunol. 2000:165 (10) 5913-20.
  22. Kepley, CL, Youseff L, Andrews RP, Wilson BS, Oliver JM. Syk deficiency in non-releaser basophils. J. Allergy.Clin.Immunol. 1999; 104:279-84.
  23. Kepley, CL, Wilson BS, Oliver JM. Identification of the FcεRI-activated tyrosine kinases Lyn, Syk, and Zap-70 in human basophils. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1998; 102:304-15.
  24. Anne-Marie I, Candice H, Han-Zhang X, Kepley, CL, Ala N, El Desouki F, et al. Immunohistochemical detection of human basophils in late-phase skin reactions. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1998 Mar;101(3):354-62.
  25. Xia HZ, Kepley, CL, Sakai K, Chelliah J, Irani AM, Schwartz LB. Quantitation of tryptase, chymase, FcεRI alpha, and FcεRI gamma mRNAs in human mast cells and basophils by competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. J. Immunol1995; 154:5472-80.
  26. Smith CH, Kepley, CL, Schwartz LB, Lee TH. Mast cell number and phenotype in chronic idiopathic urticaria. J. Allergy Clin Immunol 1995; 96:360-4.
  27. Kepley, CL, Craig SS, Schwartz LB. Identification and partial characterization of a unique marker for human basophils. J. Immunol 1995; 154:6548-55.
  28. Schwartz LB, Kepley, CL. Development of markers for human basophils and mast cells. Allergy Clin Immunol 1994; 94:1231-40.
  29. Kepley, CL, Craig S, Schwartz L. Purification of human basophils by density and size alone. J. Immunol Methods 1994; 175:1-9.
  30. Irani AM, Bradford TR, Kepley, CL, Schechter NM, Schwartz LB. Detection of MCT and MCTC types of human mast cells by immunohistochemistry using new monoclonal anti-tryptase and anti-chymase antibodies. J. Histochem Cytochem 1989; 37:1509-15.

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