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Faculty Profile: Peiwen Chen, PhD, assistant professor of Neurological Surgery

Peiwen Chen, PhD, is an assistant professor of Neurosurgery and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. His laboratory focuses on characterizing the mechanisms the drive heterotypic interactions across different cell types in brain tumors. Chen’s ultimate aim is to improve the understanding of how this heterotypic signaling gives rise to a tumor-promoting ecosystem, which may aid in the development of novel targeted therapeutic strategies.

What are your research interests? 

Our first research interest is to characterize the mechanisms that underlie heterotypic interactions across diverse cell types (macrophages, cancer cells, endothelial cells and T cells) in brain malignancies, including primary and metastatic brain cancers. The second research interest of my laboratory is to reveal how such heterotypic signaling enables a tumor-promoting ecosystem and informs therapeutic strategies intercepting these co-dependencies in brain cancers.

What is the ultimate goal of your research?

The goal of our research is to uncover novel mechanisms governing the development of brain malignancies and offer new therapeutic strategies for patients with these diseases.

What types of collaborations are you engaged in across campus (and beyond)?

We are interested in collaboration with experts in different areas, including but not limited to cancer immunology and therapeutics, single cell sequencing, cancer genetics and nanomedicine.

How is your research funded?

Our research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K99/R00 Path to Independence Award, the Department of Defense Career Development Award-Scholar Option, the Cancer Research Foundation Young Investigator Award, the NIH Brain Cancer SPORE Career Enhancement Program Award and the and Lynn Sage Scholar Award, as well as startup funds from the Feinberg School of Medicine. 

Where have you recently published papers?

Our research has been published in journals such as Cancer CellCancer Discovery, Trends in Immunology and Cell Reports.

Who inspires you?

My postdoc and PhD mentors Ronald DePinho, MD, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Paolo Bonaldo, PhD, at the University of Padova in Padova, Italy.