Kellen Chen, PhD

Chen Kellen

Kellen Chen, PhD, is an assistant research professor in the Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine – Tucson. Dr. Chen recently completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University. He also previously received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia and earned his B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Chen co-directs the lab of Department of Surgery Chair Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, FACS. Together, they are currently studying therapies to improve outcomes after injury, skin grafting, chronic wound development, biomedical device implantation, and more. Among these many research avenues, Dr. Chen is particularly interested in the molecular and cellular drivers of fibrosis and regeneration across all organ systems, and he previously studied healing after myocardial infarction or Achilles tendon injuries. He is also currently working on obtaining FDA approval for a clinical trial to study pharmacological inhibition of mechanical signaling to accelerate healing of deep dermal injury

Dr. Chen has co-authored over 45 peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters, including first author publications in journals such as the Science Translational Medicine, Nature Communications, and PNAS. He has received a variety of awards, including the First Place Young Investigator’s Award from the Wound Healing Society and the Bernard G. Sarnat, MD, Excellence in Grant Writing Award from the Plastic Surgery Foundation. He is also a guest editor for journals such as Bioengineering and the Journal of Visualized Experiments. Dr. Chen is a member of the Wound Healing Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Cancer Focus

Some of Dr. Chen's cancer-focused work includes investigating the molecular drivers of cancer, such as breast cancer and Breast Implant-Associated Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), as well as liver cirrhosis samples. To do this, he collects human tissue cancer samples and analyzes them in the lab in order to identify the key factors that contribute to the development and progression of these conditions, which can help to guide the development of new treatments.

Dr. Chen has also developed a novel 3D, physiologic collagen scaffold system, which allows him to investigate the effects of mechanical strain on different cancer cells. This system provides a more accurate representation of the physical environment that cancer cells experience in the body, which can help to identify new targets for therapy.

In collaboration with Dr. Marlys Witte, Dr. Chen is investigating the role of a promising prognostic biomarker, FOXC2, in cancer metastasis. They are particularly interested in understanding how dysregulation of FOXC2 expression may promote defects in chronic malignancies. This research could have significant implications for the development of new therapies to prevent cancer metastasis.

Research Program Role
Clinical and Translational Oncology Program

Display Name
Kellen Chen, PhD