Gregory Vercellotti, MD, FACP

Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation

Gregory Vercellotti

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-3757

Mailing Address:
Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation
420 Delaware Street SE
MMC 480
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Administrative Assistant Name
Barbara Porwit

Administrative Phone

Administrative Email

Administrative Fax Number

Medical School, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

Internal Medicine Residency, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Hematology / Oncology Fellowship, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN


For over 40 years at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Vercellotti has focused on studies of inflammation, oxidative stress, vascular biology, atherosclerosis, and sickle cell disease (SCD). His laboratory pioneered investigations of how the vasculature can adapt to oxidative stress and hemoglobin/heme by inducing cellular cytoprotectants including heme oxygenase-1, carbon monoxide, and ferritin. Using transgenic sickle mice, innovative models to study vaso-occlusion, and novel gene therapy techniques, our laboratory defined the pathologic role of hemolysis in vaso-occulsion and established the paramount importance of dealing with hemolysis by detoxifying heme with heme oxygenase and the anti-inflammatory properties of carbon monoxide. His lab has developed a robust and reproducible dorsal skin-fold chamber method that measures vaso-occlusion in sickle mice and allows the in vivo testing of drugs affecting vaso-occlusion. We have previously used gene therapy with Sleeping Beauty transposons to overexpress heme oxygenase-1, the heme binding protein hemopexin and the iron binding protein heavy chain ferritin in the livers of SCD mice, and erythroid-specific expression of non-sickling adult ?-globin in primary CD34+ cells

Awards & Recognition

  • Fellowship, American College of Physicians
  • Mpls.St. Paul Magazine "Top Doctor" (2008-2019)
  • Clinical Excellence Award, Outstanding Clinician, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota (2014)
  • U.S. News & World Report 2012 Top Doctor
  • Alpha Omega Alpha
  • Fairview-University Outstanding Clinician of the Year (2009)
  • Golden Key International Honor Society
  • Minnesota Monthly "Best Doctors" (2014)
  • Clinical Excellence Award, Outstanding Clinician, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota (2014)

Professional Associations

  • Senior Associate Dean for Education, University of Minnesota (1997-2004)
  • Member, Biomedical Engineering Institute, University of Minnesota (2005-present)
  • Member, American Society of Hematology
  • Member, Minnesota Medical Society
  • Member, of American College of Physicians
  • American Engineering in Medicine
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • Counselor, Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research
  • NHLBI Sickle Cell Disease Advisory Committee, NIH
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Clinical and Climatological Association


Research Summary/Interests

Dr. Vercellotti’s research focuses on inflammation and endothelial cell biology, the role of inflammation in vaso-occlusion in sickle cell anemia, the role of infection in atherosclerosis and vascular disease, and oxidative stress and vascular disease. His clinical interests range from coagulation and bleeding disorders, platelet disorders, red cell disorders, porphyria, bone marrow transplant, leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma to immunologic deficiencies.

Dr. Vercellotti’s lab demonstrated that the abundant physiological iron contained in heme, is a powerful catalyst for LDL oxidation which could activate and damage endothelial cells. Heme readily enters cell membranes and the endothelium becomes hyper- susceptible to oxidant-mediated cytolysis. They demonstrated how the vasculature defends itself against heme mediated injury by the induction of the cellular cytoprotectants, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and ferritin, leading to resistance to oxidant-mediated injury. They showed in vivo relevance of this cytoprotection in a variety of models from rhabdomyolysis to sickle cell disease (SCD). His lab provided significant evidence for the important role of inflammation in vaso-occlusion in SCD. They demonstrated that decreasing inflammation or decreasing reactive oxygen species, inhibiting adhesion molecules, all decrease vaso-occlusion in murine models of sickle cell disease using a unique physiological model. Due to hemolysis, both human SCD and murine SCD model have increased HO-1. They demonstrated that HO-1, when overexpressed in sickle animals, prevents hypoxia induced vaso-occlusion. Furthermore, the products of HO-1, biliverdin and CO could also modulate vaso-occlusion.


  • Holtan S, Verneris MR, Schultz KR, Newell LF, Meyers G, He F, DeFor TE, Vercellotti GM, Slungaard A, MacMillan ML, Cooley SA, Blazar BR, Panoskaltsis-Mortari A, Weisdorf DJ. Circulating Angiogenic Factors Associated with Response and Survival in Patients with Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease., BBMT 2015 Mar 7. pii: S1083-8791(15)00125-1. PMID: 25759146 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
  • Belcher JD, Chen C, Holtan MS, Nguyen J, Okeley NM, Benjamin DR, Senter PD, and Vercellotti GM. The fucosylation inhibitor, 2-fluorofucose, inhibits vaso-occlusion, leukocyte-endothelium interactions and NF-?B activation in transgenic sickle mice. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 23;10(2):e0117772. eCollection 2015. PMID: 25706118. PMCID: PMC4338063.
  • Vercellotti GM. Look out heme, Mac is back in town. Blood. 2014 Aug 28;124(9):1388-9. PMID:2517011
  • Bejanyan N, Oran B, Shanley R, Warlick E, Ustun C, Vercellotti G, Verneris M,. Wagner J, Weisdorf D, and Brunstein C. Clinical outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia patients relapsing after matched related donor and umbilical cord blood transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2014 Aug;49(8):1029-35. PMID: 24887379.
  • Ustun C, Reiter A, Scott BL, Nakamura R, Damaj G, Kreil S, Shanley R, Hogan W, Perales MA, Shore T, Baurmann H, Stuart R, Gruhn B, Doubek M, Hsu JW, Thoulouli E, Gromke T, Godley LA, Pagano L, Gillman A, Wagner EM, Shwayder T, Bornhäuser M, Papadopoulos EB, Böhm B, Vercellotti G, Van Lint MT, Schmid C, Rabitsch W, Pullarkat V, Legrand F, Yakoub-agha I, Barrett J, Hermine O, Hagglund H, Sperr WR, Popat U, Devine S, Deeg HJ, Weisdorf D, Akin C, Valent P. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantaion is effective in advanced systemic mastocytosis. Journal Clinical Oncology. 2014 Oct 10;32(29):3264-74. PMID:25154823
  • Vercellotti GM, Belcher JD. Not simply misshapen red cells: multimolecular and cellular events in sickle vaso-occlusion. J Clin Invest. 2014 Apr 1;124(4):1462-5. PMID:24642460
  • Vercellotti GM, Khan F, Bechtel H, Nath KA, Nguyen J, Chen C, Bruzzone CM, Brown G, Steer CJ, Hebbel RP and Belcher JD. H-Ferritin ferroxidase induces cytoprotective pathways and inhibits microvascular stasis in transgenic sickle mice. Front. Pharmacol., 17 April 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2014.00079 PMID: 24860503
  • Belcher JD, Chen C, Nguyen J, Milbauer L, Abdullla F, Alyash AI, Smith A, Nath KA, Hebbel RP, and Vercellotti GM. Heme triggers TLR4 signaling leading to endothelial activation and vaso-occlusion in murine sickle cell disease. Blood 2014. Jan 16;123(3):377-90. PMID:24277079
  • Sjeklocha L, Belcher J, Vercellotti G, Wong P and Steer C. ?-globin Sleeping Beauty Transposon Reduces Red Blood Cell Sickling in a Patient-Derived CD34+-based in vitro Model . PLoS One. 2013 Nov 18;8(11):e80403. PMID:242603
  • Belcher JD, Nath KA and Vercellotti GM. Vasculotoxic and pro-inflammatory effects of plasma heme: Cell signaling and cytoprotective responses. ISRN Oxidative Medicine 2013;2013: Article ID 831596
  • Dalmasso AP, Goldish D, Tsai AK, Benson B,Wasiluk KR and Vercellotti GM IL-4 induces up-regulation of endothelial cell claudin-5 through activation of FOXO1: Role in protection from complement-mediated injury. J Biol Chem. 2014 Jan 10;289(2):838-47. PMID:24280217
  • Belcher JD, Young M, Chen C, Nguyen J, Burhop K, Tran P, Vercellotti GM. MP4CO, a pegylated hemoglobin saturated with carbon monoxide is a modulator of HO-1, inflammation and vaso-occlusion in transgenic sickle mice. Blood. 2013;122(15):2757-64. PMID: 23908468
  • Schaer DJ, Buelher PW, Alayash AI, Belcher JD and Vercellotti, GM. Hemolysis and Free Hemoglobin Revisited: Exploring hemoglobin and hemin scavengers as a novel class of therapeutic proteins. Blood 2013:121(8):1276-1284. PMID:23264591
  • Vercellotti GM, Moldow CF, Jacob HS. 2012. Complement, oxidants, and endothelial injury: how a bedside observation opened a door to vascular biology. Journal of Clinical Investigation, J Clin Invest. Sep 4;122(9):3044-5.
  • Beckman JD, Chen C, Nguyen J , Thayanithy V, Subramanian S, Steer CJ, and Vercellotti GM. 2011. Regulation of heme oxygenase-1 protein expression by miR-377 in combination with mir-217. J Biol Chem. Feb 4;286(5):3194-202
  • Sjeklocha LM, Park CW, Wong P Y-P, Roney MK, Belcher JD, Kaufman DS, Vercellotti GM, Hebbel RP, Steer CJ. 2011. Erythroid-specific expression of b-globin from Sleeping Beauty-transduced hematopoietic progenitors. PLoS One 6:e29110.
  • Belcher JD, Vineyard JV, Bruzzone CM, Chen C, Beckman JD, Nguyen J, Steer C, and Vercellotti GM. 2010. Heme Oxygenase-1 Gene Therapy in a Murine Model of Sickle Cell Disease. J Molecular Medicine. Jul;88(7):665-75.
  • Beckman JD, Belcher JD, Vineyard JV, Chen C,Nguyen J, Nwaneri MO, O’Sullivan MG, Gulbahce E, Hebbel RP, Vercellotti GM. 2009. Inhaled Carbon Monoxide Reduces Leukocytosis in a Murine Model of Sickle Cell Disease. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. Oct;297(4):H1243-53.


Teaching Areas

Dr. Vercellotti's entire career has been focused on education. Multiple undergraduate, graduate, and, postdoctoral students, as well as residents and fellows, have rotated in his laboratory and have become faculty members at prestigious medical centers around the world. His love of education and mentoring is reflected by his experiences in directing internal medicine clerkships, directing the 2nd year hematology blood course, developing objectives with colleagues of the American Society for Hematology for all medical schools for 2nd year medical school blood courses, and serving for 7 years as Senior Associate Dean for Education, overseeing all aspects of medical education, ranging from admissions, curriculum, MD/PhD program, Graduate Medical Education, Continuing Medical Education, Allied Health, and programs to advance diversity in our health care profession. He has overseen the T32 grant for training in Hematology since 2010, developed new curriculum for Responsible Conduct of Research, and Writing for Publication and Grantwriting skills for future scientists. The training grant in hematology for 40 years has trained national and international leaders in hematology. Today the program continues to successfully prepare physicians and scientists for research careers as evidenced by the high percentage of T32 trainees that are academic or industry scientists. He has been involved in the MSTP and PSTP programs since its inception. 


Board Certifications

  • Internal Medicine
  • Hematology

Clinical Interests

Sickle Cell Disease, Thalassesmia, Hemochromtosis, Iron related-disease, Prophyrioa Anemia, White Blood Cell Disorders, Mastocytosis