Areas of Research
- Lung Cancer Research
The human lung is a complex three-dimensional tubular network consisting of more than 20 generations of conducting airways and 300 million alveoli for gas exchange. The entire lung arises from a group of embryonic progenitor cells via exquisitely orchestrated processes that include branching morphogenesis to build a tree-like structure and cellular differentiation to generate diverse cell types. Although much is known about each process individually, a key knowledge gap and hence the focus of the Chen Laboratory is how different processes are coordinated and deployed at the correct time and location.
My lab is interested in the normal developmental processes that build the lung and how such processes go awry during lung malformations, injury and tumorigenesis. What is unique about my lab is our effort to develop a series of three-dimensional labeling and imaging methods such as optical projection tomography. We develop these novel methods to address a major challenge in studying the lung – its complex three-dimensional architecture including the tree-like airways and honeycomb-like alveoli, making it difficult to compare structures on conventional two-dimensional sections.