Welcome to the Chen Lab »

Our independent research group is based in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. We are also a member of the Wayne State University Perinatal Research Initiative, in collaboration with the Perinatology Research Branch (PRB) of Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Mucosal Immunology Studies Team (MIST) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. Immunological concepts and technologies are integral to our work. Our collaborators include leading scientists and clinicians in the academia and the industry in the US, Europe and Asia.

First, we study the immune regulation of reproduction and mucosal immunity of the reproductive tract. A large number of common reproductive disorders have an immunological basis. Leveraging our immunological expertise, novel and original diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies are being developed to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes and the associated infant mortality and disability.

Mucosal immunity in the female reproductive tract
The female reproductive mucosal immune system protects the host against infections and adapts to a spectrum of physiological events, such as menstruation and pregnancy. Dysregulation of reproductive mucosal immune responses are associated with a variety of pregnancy complications and failure. We are analyzing how mechanisms regulating the normal behaviors of immune cells break down in pathological pregnancy, and whether the restoration of these mechanisms can alleviate or prevent diseases.

Development of new maternal vaccines
Maternal vaccination, a form of vaccination given to women of child-bearing age aimed at protecting the mother and the infant against infections, has achieved much progress in the past decade, with several vaccines recommended to all pregnant women. However, there are still many pathogens against which no vaccines are available for pregnant women. We are studying the immune protection mechanisms against these pathogens and developing maternal vaccines with better efficacy and safety.

Second, we study the defects of antibody production in immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases. We apply a diverse array of cellular, histological and molecular techniques to elucidate mechanisms of antibody maturation and production by B lymphocytes, including heavy chain class switching and somatic hypermutation. These processes are critical for the diversification of the antibody repertoire to generate effective immune protection and avoid autoimmune diseases.

Third, we study the pathogenesis of gynecologic malignancies with the goals of understanding cancer pathogenesis, identifying biomarkers for early diagnosis and accurate prognosis and individualized molecular targets for treatment. We employ cell culture-, patient specimen- and mouse model-based conventional and high-throughput strategies to elucidate the cellular and molecular pathways important for the growth, metastasis and immune evasion of ovarian cancer. Our current focuses are the identification of novel biomarkers of ovarian cancer prognosis and the regulation of the ovarian cancer immune microenvironment.

We are a team that is diverse, collaborative and energetic. Our current and former members have won prestigious national and local awards and moved to take up independent and key positions in the academia or the industry.

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