Leading Tissue Engineering Researcher Chen Joins BME Faculty

By Mark Dwortzan

Professor Christopher Chen (BME)
Professor Christopher Chen (BME)

Christopher Chen, one of the world’s leading tissue engineering researchers, has joined the Boston University Biomedical Engineering Department faculty. Chen, who was appointed a professor in BME, comes to BU from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in Bioengineering and founding director of the Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration.

Chen is widely recognized as a world leader in tissue engineering and mechanobiology—the study of how physical forces and changes in cell or tissue mechanics contribute to development, physiology and disease.

“Dr. Chen is a pioneer and at the forefront of these fields and will be instrumental in significantly expanding our research portfolio as well as our course offerings available in these areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Professor Sol Eisenberg, who chairs the BME Department. “He is a very deep thinker, an excellent communicator and a highly creative and collaborative individual.”

“I am excited to be joining the College of Engineering,” said Chen. “In this energetic environment, I expect to continue our work in identifying the fundamental rules that govern how cells assemble to form tissues and organs, and use those insights in regenerative medicine. Boston University has been leading the way in integrating traditional disciplines to address the scientific challenges of tomorrow, and I look forward to accelerating our efforts in this uniquely rich and innovative community.”

Understanding the interactions between cells and their surroundings is at the core of biology and tissue engineering, but few experimental models exist to control these interactions at the cellular scale. Combining microsystems technologies with traditional molecular tools, Chen has developed such models to interact with, probe and manipulate cells, and thereby shed light on a wide range of  physiological processes and diseases, engineer artificial tissues, and build hybrid biological/artificial devices for medical and other applications.

Applying microfabrication and nanotechnology techniques to cell and tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine, he has been instrumental in the development of engineered cellular microenvironments used to engineer cell function and guide cell and tissue growth. Through this research, he has sought to identify underlying mechanisms by which cells interact with materials and other cells to build tissues, and to apply this knowledge to better understand the biology of stem cells, tissue vascularization and cancer.

Holding an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, a PhD in medical engineering and medical physics from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program, and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, Chen has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Mary Hulman George Award for Biomedical Research, the Herbert W. Dickerman Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science, and several other honors. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and editor of the Journal of Cell Science.

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