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Jun Chen, MD

Headshot of Jun Chen, MD

Specialized Areas of Interest

Neuronal cell death; cerebral ischemia; Parkinson's disease.


Dr. Chen's laboratory is interested in molecular mechanisms of neuronal cell death associated with cerebral ischemia and Parkinson's disease. the work focuses on determining the role of programmed cell death and mitochondrial dysfunction using various in vivo and in vitro disease models. The main theme of this research is that elucidation of the signaling mechanisms underlying the pathologic neurodegenerative processes in the brain may explore new targets for therapeutic intervention of the disease. The lab is currently investigating the specific signaling molecules and pathways that trigger mitochondrial apoptosis and the downstream cell death-execution cascades in neurons.

A recent major finding from this laboratory is the elucidation of the mechanism by which apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is activated in neurons after ischemia or Parkinson's disease-relevant insults. AIF is a mitochondrial protein that, upon release, translocates into the nucleus and degrades the genomic DNA, leading to cell demises. Using siRNA-mediated gene knockdown approaches, it has been found that AIF is an important mediator for neuronal apoptosis in brain ischemia and in cell models of Parkinson's disease. New data have now suggested that calpain I activation plays a critical role in triggering AIF release from mitochondrial under many pathological conditions.

Another main area of interest of Dr. Chen's laboratory is to investigate the role of oxidative DNA damage and repair in ischemic brain injury, focusing on the base-excision repair (BER) pathway. This research is based on the belief that manipulation of cellular BER activity may impact the vulnerability of neurons to ischemic challenges. Current projects are ongoing to test the hypothesis that enhanced BER activity in neurons protects against ischemic neuronal injury.

Dr. Chen has actively participated in teaching graduate students. He is a training faculty member of the CNUP and MD/PhD programs, and has given lectures to three different graduate study courses (Cell and Molecular Neurobiology MSNBIO 2100, Neuropharmacology MSMPHL 3375, and Gene Delivery MSBMG & MSMVM 3465). Dr. Chen has continued to serve at both national and international levels including NIH and AHA study sections.

In the new academic year, Dr. Chen will continue both research and teaching duties.

Dr. Chen's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.