Yin Chen, PhD. Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy at UA was recruited from the Hamner Institute for Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, NC, in February 2009. Currently, mentored by SWEHSC member Dr. Monks, Dr. Chen has transitioned successfully into an independent academic researcher.
Dr. Chen’s research focus is on epithelial biology, having established the following research programs: (a) understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying airway mucous cell development and mucous cell metaplasia in chronic diseases including cancer, COPD and asthma; (b) identification of the defects in innate anti-viral defense that cause asthma exacerbation; (c) identification of the airway anti-fungal signaling pathway that contributes to the development of childhood asthma.
SWEHSC membership has provided substantial support for Dr. Chen’s research program including (i) access to state-of-the-art core services, including genome-wide screening of the airway response to environmental fungal infections, and confocal imaging of the differentiated primary airway epithelial cells; (ii) enabling mentor-mentee-type relationships between Dr. Chen and other senior SWEHSC members including Dr, Monks, Dr. Lau and Dr. Lantz; (iii) provision of a collaborative environment facilitating the exchange of original ideas and collaborations of joint interests, already resulting in three joint grant submissions: (i) In collaboration with SWEHSC members Drs. Fernando Martinez, Scott Boitano, Donata Vercelli, and other members of the Arizona Respiratory Center, the group submitted a formative center grant (P20) titled “Arizona Children’s Center for Research on Environmental Health and Disease” sponsored jointly by EPA and NIEHS to investigate the effect of environmental exposure to Alternaria alternate on asthma pathogenesis.
Dr. Chen serves as the PI of Pilot Project #1 and the Co-I of Project #1. The grant received an outstanding score of 25, and is awaiting a funding decision. (ii) In collaboration with SWEHSC members Drs. Fernando Martinez, Scott Boitano and Michael Daines, a R01 grant titled "Role for PAR-2 activation in airway epithelial innate immunity” has been submitted to NIH for review. Dr. Chen serves as Co-PI on the grant. (iii) In collaboration with SWEHSC members Drs. Fernando Martinez and Scott Boitano, Dr. Chen is investigating the function and polymorphism of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 in the pathogenesis of asthma. Data from this study will be submitted as a R01 grant to NIH in the June cycle of 2010, with Dr. Yin Chen as the PI of the grant.