Top Stem Cell Transplant Centers of 2023: Guide to the Best Clinics and Hospitals

Stem cell transplantation is a complex and potentially risky medical procedure that should only be performed at a medical center with experience and expertise in this area. The best stem cell transplant hospitals are typically those that are part of a larger academic medical center or cancer center, as these institutions tend to have the most advanced technologies and highly trained specialists. Some examples of top stem cell transplant hospitals in the United States include the Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment options and facilities for your specific needs.

best stem cell centers in US

1. Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic's bone marrow (stem cell) transplant team is recognized internationally for its expertise in comprehensive specialty treatment for people with blood and bone marrow diseases. Mayo Clinic is one of the largest providers of bone marrow transplants in the United States. It has performed more than 10,000 stem cell transplants at its campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

Contact and Address
Arizona - Mayo Clinic Bone Marrow Transplant Program
5777 E. Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85054
Phone: 480-342-4800
Florida - Mayo Clinic Bone Marrow Transplant Program
4500 San Pablo Road
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Phone: 904-953-7223
Minnesota - Mayo Clinic Bone Marrow Transplant Program
200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905Phone: 507-284-5253
    Mayo Clinic experts have extensive experience using bone marrow transplants to treat a variety of conditions, including cancers. Mayo Clinic offers bone marrow transplants for adults and children using their own cells (autologous transplant), cells from a donor (allogeneic transplant) or cells from an umbilical cord (cord blood transplant).
People who choose Mayo Clinic for their care receive comprehensive, compassionate and personalized attention from health care providers and staff who are committed to providing exactly the care they need. In addition, several support groups are offered at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

At Mayo Clinic, health care providers who specialize in blood diseases (hematologists) form a multidisciplinary team with other experts to provide personalized, whole-person care to adults and children undergoing bone marrow transplants.
Your transplant team may include hematologists, cancer specialists (oncologists), mental health specialists (psychologists and psychiatrists), a bone marrow transplant scheduling coordinator, transfusion medicine nurses, trained and specialized nurses, physician assistants, social workers, a nurse coordinator, a clinical nurse specialist, a dietitian, pharmacists, a chaplain and a child life specialist for children undergoing bone marrow transplant.

Children and adolescents undergoing bone marrow transplants receive care at the Children's Center at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota. At Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona, pediatric experts collaborate with the Phoenix Children's Hospital to provide care to young patients. Together the two oversee a single bone marrow transplant program for children. Pediatric patients receive care from Mayo Clinic specialists in Florida through a partnership with Nemours Children's Specialty Care and Wolfson Children's Hospital.


Mayo Clinic specialists have extensive experience performing bone marrow transplants for adults and children with a variety of cancerous and noncancerous diseases. Each year, around 850 people undergo bone marrow transplants at Mayo Clinic.

The first bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic occurred in 1963. Bone marrow transplant procedures are performed by Mayo Clinic specialists in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

The long history of bone marrow transplants performed at Mayo Clinic means that health care providers are prepared with the knowledge and resources to provide you with expert, personalized care.

Bringing research advances to patient care

Mayo Clinic scientists are involved in cutting-edge research that allows them to apply the latest advances to patient care.

Innovations include:
  • Haploidentical transplant. This type of transplant uses stem cells from donors who aren't perfect matches. Research is helping to bring understanding about how to reduce the risk of complications and improve recovery for people whose stem cell donors aren't perfect matches.
  • Reduced-intensity conditioning. Using lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation before a transplant may allow older people and those who aren't healthy enough for conditioning to undergo bone marrow transplants.
  • Cord blood transplant. This type of transplant is done using stored and frozen umbilical cord blood. There are fewer stem cells in cord blood, but those stem cells can grow more blood cells than can those collected from bone marrow. Using cells from cord blood reduces the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Researchers are identifying the best ways to use cord blood for bone marrow transplants and finding new ways to track these cells after transplant.
  • Expanding indications for bone marrow transplant. Researchers are studying ways to use this treatment for a wider variety of conditions, including complicated and rare diseases.
  • New medication options. Mayo Clinic researchers study medications and treatments for people who have had bone marrow transplants, including new medications to help people stay healthy after a bone marrow transplant.
  • Reduced time in the hospital. At Mayo Clinic, some bone marrow transplants are performed as hospital-based outpatient procedures, which reduces the amount of time spent in the hospital.
Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic bone marrow transplant specialists are respected for their knowledge, experience and expertise.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, is ranked highly performing for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Expertise and rankings

Each year, Mayo Clinic specialists diagnose and treat thousands of people who have blood or bone marrow disease, many of whom benefit from bone marrow transplant. Mayo Clinic's Bone Marrow Transplant Program is among the largest in the country.

Mayo Clinic is recognized for excellence in bone marrow transplant by national and international groups:

2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of the largest centers for stem cell and bone marrow transplants in the country. In 1973, our doctors did the world’s first successful transplant between a patient and an unrelated donor.

Since then, MSK has been a leader in stem cell transplantation. We developed many of the transplant methods widely used today. MSK has done more than 10,000 transplants.

MSK doctors and care teams never stop improving the care we deliver. Researchers who specialize in stem cell transplantation always work to reduce the complications of transplants. We’re also working to make stem cell transplants available to more people.

We give each person who needs a transplant the best care possible. Our highly skilled transplant doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners work with many other experts. They include immunologists, gastroenterologists, kidney specialists, radiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation doctors, and social workers.

We understand you may be overwhelmed by the idea of having a stem cell transplant. You may also be worried about the complications of other diseases you may have. For those reasons, MSK offers many resources and supportive care services. They’re available before, during, and after the procedure. They can help you and your caregivers with the challenges you face, and improve your quality of life. In addition, our comprehensive Adult Survivorship Program can help you adjust during and after cancer treatment. Watch a video to learn more about MSK’s Adult Survivorship Program.

Transplantation is performed in the hospital or in an outpatient (ambulatory) setting. We’re now doing more transplants in an outpatient setting. Your care team will help decide what is best for you.

For more information or to make an appointment with a Memorial Sloan Kettering doctor in the Bone Marrow Transplant Service, please call our consultation line at 877-836-ABMT (2268).

3. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Umbilical cord blood transplant linked to lower relapse in high-risk leukemia patients

Crystal Day was 26 when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. With increasing fatigue and near-daily nose bleeds, Day had looked up her symptoms on WebMD and at first thought she just needed more iron. But it didn’t help.

One day, she could barely walk to the front door of her home in North Carolina. She went to urgent care that day, and a blood test soon revealed the cancer overtaking her blood cells.

Her first chemotherapy treatment put the cancer in remission, but her doctor at the time described her situation somewhat ominously: “One way the doctor explained it to me was that the chemo is just killing the tip of the iceberg of your leukemia cells,” said Day, now 31. “There’s no way to actually tell how deep the leukemia cells are in your marrow.”

After she finished treatment, Day and her fiancé moved to Seattle, where she had grown up, and settled into their new lives. But three and a half years after her diagnosis, the cancer came back.

This time, her oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch’s clinical care partner, told Day her only option for a cure was a stem cell transplant. For those like Day, patients with leukemia and other blood cancers, blood stem cell transplants often offer the best hope of a cure. But even with this lifesaving procedure, some patients can relapse — especially if doctors aren’t able to put the cancer into complete remission prior to transplant.

Lacking a matched donor in her family or the national bone marrow registry, Day received a transplant two years ago using cells from umbilical cord blood, and it worked — she’s been cancer-free ever since.
Now, a new study from researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine describes results from Day and others like her — patients who have received stem cell transplants from cord blood or from unrelated adult donors at Fred Hutch. The researchers reviewed outcomes for 582 patients who’d received stem cell transplants at the Hutch from 2006, when the institute’s Cord Blood Program launched, to 2014. Including Day, 140 of those patients received cord blood transplants.

Benefits beyond being an alternative source of stem cells

The study found that such transplants may have advantages beyond offering an alternative stem cell source for patients without a traditional donor match — they seem to perform better against leukemia and the related bone marrow disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome, in patients at high risk of relapse after transplant.

These patients, who make up about a third of those facing a stem cell transplant, have what is known as “minimal residual disease” — the chemo required before transplant isn’t completely successful at putting their cancer into remission, and small amounts of the disease remain. Only about a third of patients with detectable cancer in their blood at the time of transplant will still be alive three years later, a 2013 Hutch study found, as compared to nearly three-quarters of those without such residual disease.

“Patients going into transplant with minimal residual disease, they have very dismal outcomes,” said Fred Hutch transplantation researcher Dr. Filippo Milano, lead author of the NEJM paper. But this study showed that such patients who received a cord blood transplant had better outcomes and a lower relapse rate than those who received stem cells from an adult unrelated donor, Milano said.

In fact, the patients in their study with minimal residual disease — about one-third of the 582 patients in the study — who were transplanted with cord blood cells were no more likely to relapse or die than patients without the detectable cancer cells who’d also received a cord blood transplant, the researchers found. Those who’d received a traditional transplant from an unrelated donor were on average more than three times as likely to relapse if they had minimal residual disease than those without detectable cancer cells in their blood, and they were more than twice as likely to die.

For the other two-thirds of the patients, those with no minimal residual disease, cord blood transplants and traditional transplants had very similar outcomes.

The researchers’ retrospective study — a look back at how patients already treated have fared, rather than a prospective study, which follows patients from the beginning of their treatment — was originally planned as a sort of internal review, Milano said. But the patients’ outcomes — especially the improved survival that cord blood transplant may offer for those at high risk of relapse — were so encouraging that the researchers decided to write up their findings to share with their colleagues outside the Hutch.

“The idea at the beginning was just to see where we are with the Cord Blood Program here,” he said. “Then we saw the results were very, very good.”

However, the researchers cautioned that it’s difficult to make black and white comparisons with a retrospective study — to definitively say a cord blood transplant is better than a traditional transplant for any group of patients, you really need a prospective study, Milano said. 

A transplant where everyone has a donor

Cord blood transplantation offers one known, big advantage over adult donor transplants for the general population, said Dr. Colleen Delaney, who started Fred Hutch’s Cord Blood Program in 2006 and is senior author on the study: “Everyone has a cord blood donor.”

Because stem cells in the umbilical cord are less developed than adult stem cells, they don’t have to be “matched” as stringently to a patient’s human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, type. HLA genes are part of each person’s unique genetic background that determines the likelihood of rejecting donor stem cells. Doctors typically look for a 10-out-of-10 match of HLA genes between patients and their donors, but, if such a perfect match doesn’t exist among relatives or unrelated donors, they’ll often go with an eight- or nine-out-of-10 match. Transplants from such “mismatched” donors may be better than no transplant at all, but as studies like Milano and Delaney’s show, cord blood transplants may be the best option for some patients.

“This brings home the point that cord blood shouldn’t be called an alternative donor. The outcomes are the same as a conventional donor,” Delaney said. “This paper shows that if you’ve got high-risk disease and are at high risk for relapse post-transplant, transplantation from a cord blood donor may be the best option.”

For Day, none of the traditional donor sources were an option for her transplant. There were no HLA matches or near matches in her family or in the national donor bank, Be The Match. Day is mixed-race; minority donors and those of mixed race are especially underrepresented in the national pool of donors — and patients often won’t match the HLA type of a donor of a different racial or ethnic background.

Day had heard of cord blood transplants but didn’t know much about them until it became clear that was her best option. When they found a match for her in the cord blood database, “that was a big relief,” Day said.

That period of waiting and testing was really tough, she said. It was a few months between when they’d started testing her family members and when they found her cord blood match. At one point, Day remembered, she asked her doctor what they would do if they couldn’t find a matched donor. He answered that she’d likely be OK for up to a year on maintenance chemotherapy, so they’d spend that time hoping for a new match to show up in the national bank.

“Not having a match was the scariest part,” Day said.

Where you are treated matters

As with many types of cancer, where leukemia patients are treated matters for their survival — this is especially true for those receiving cord blood transplants, Milano said. Patients who receive transplants through the Hutch’s Cord Blood Program have nearly a 70 percent overall survival rate, higher than the survival rates reported at other centers.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Milano said.

Delaney said she often hears of cases where patients are told they have no match among traditional donors and no other options. She hopes more patients and doctors will consider cord blood transplants — at a clinic with the right expertise and track record.

“Cord blood transplant is highly specialized and you want to be at an experienced center,” she said. “It is nuanced.”

The credit for the high survival rate is due not just to the research, Milano said, but to the nursing staff and other clinicians at the SCCA and the University of Washington Medical Center.

“They know how to take care of patients,” Milano said. “The institution makes a difference.”


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