Areas of Research
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Single-Cell Genomics
- Tumor Microenvironment
- Cancer Biology
The Chen Laboratory integrates computational biology (utilizing single-cell sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, and other multi-omics analyses) with experimental biology (utilizing novel transgenic mouse models of cancers and in vitro mechanistic validation), in conjunction with the analysis of cancer patient datasets. Such multi-disciplinary research system allows the systemic identification and evaluation of novel therapeutic targets and diagnostic biomarkers in pancreatic cancer and other diseases.
About Dr. Chen
Yang Chen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Jilin University in 2008 and his Ph.D. degree at Tsinghua University in 2014. He received his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Raghu Kalluri at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Chen’s postdoctoral training in the research field of cancer biology and tumor microenvironment was very productive, leading to the publication of six first-author papers and one co-first-author paper in impactful journals (Chen et al., Cancer Cell 2022; Chen et al., Cancer Cell 2021; McAndrews, Chen, Darpolor et al., Cancer Discovery 2022; Chen et al., Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology 2021; Chen et al., Nature Communications 2021; Chen et al., EMBO Mol Med 2018; Chen et al., PLoS Biology 2018).
Dr. Chen’s studies established a variety of novel transgenic mouse models that allow the genetic knockout of important proteins in specific cell populations. These novel mouse models, in combination with single-cell sequencing and other multi-omics analyses, discovered the functional roles and heterogeneity of important proteins and cell types. These studies identified the interactions between cancer cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts, immune cells, stromal components, and tumor microbiome, which provided new insights into the development of new biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.
Dr. Chen’s prior studies also provided the solid foundation for his independent research projects. The Chen Laboratory further integrates computational biology (utilizing single-cell sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, and other multi-omics analyses) with experimental biology (utilizing novel transgenic mouse models of cancers and in vitro mechanistic validation), to identify novel therapeutic targets and diagnostic biomarkers in pancreatic cancer and other diseases.
News & Media
Finding Joy: Yang Chen creates Legos artwork for new lab
When starting a lab, new research faculty have a long list of work that needs to be done, from assembling equipment to hiring a team. But there can be room to play, too. Often researchers take the time to decorate their labs showing off their work and their personality.
When Yang Chen, Ph.D., made the transition from a postdoctoral fellow in the Kalluri Lab to an assistant professor, Translational Molecular Pathology, he decided to build a mosaic replica of an immunofluorescence staining image that was featured in the scientific journal Cancer Cell along with a study that Yang served as first author on while working with the Kalluri Lab. The study was a critical one, unraveling the fundamental role of a specific type of collagen deletion in both tumor immunity and growth. The image illustrated how immunofluorescence could make the collagen visible in a picture of a pancreatic tumor in a mouse model.
Chen decided to build the mosaic using Legos. He loved building with Legos as a child and rediscovered the blocks when his son, now age 5, began playing with them a few years ago. Chen was excited to create something that would interest his son and represent his lab. Plus Legos seemed like the perfect medium for his project for another reason. The way the blocks came together to make an image and the way in which one single block could be deleted mirrored the work he did with DNA sequencing in the lab.
“The mosaic is a symbol of both the end of my trainee period at MD Anderson and the beginning of my independent journey at MD Anderson,” Chen says. “It reflects what I have achieved as a trainee here, which now serves as the foundation for what I hope to build as a new faculty in my own lab.”