Dr. Chen is a clinically practicing neurosurgeon with sub-specialty training in stereotactic/functional neurosurgery, which utilizes techniques to precisely target specific areas in the brain. His overarching goal is to use his clinical experience to inform his research, and in turn, bring discoveries from the laboratory to patients in the form of new and innovative therapies.
Stem cells are a particular focus of Dr. Chen's research, specifically induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These cells are created from tissue that is easily obtainable from patients, for example, skin cells, and quickly grown in a culture dish. By genetically reprogramming these cells, they revert back to a “stem cell” state and can then be formed into nerve cells to form new brain connections. Dr. Chen is studying how these connections may impact ALS, Alzheimer's, and other dementias. The ability to regulate nerve activity with new nerve connections could eventually also be applied to other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as other conditions, such as epilepsy, stroke, chronic pain, and psychiatric diseases.