Yun Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor

In the Lab of Mechanochemistry And Functional Imaging Applications (MAFIA) , we are currently working on two areas described below.

  1.  Study the effects of long-range and high forces generated by cancer cells on tumor microenvironment.
    Some types of cancer cells can generate higher forces compared to their normal counterparts. The high forces can be transmitted over distance at the order of hundreds of microns. There can be two possible effects: (a) activation of mechanosignaling pathways in cells that are not in the immediate proximity of the cancer cells; and (b) mechanical remodeling of the microenvironment as a result of reorganization of fibrillar ECM proteins  and subsequent changes in the diffusion rate of secreted substances such as cytokines, microRNAs and exosomes. We are looking into how these effects contribute to cancer pathology.
  1. Construct physiologically representative organoid systems by mimicking in vivobiophysical characteristics.

In order to have a better representation of physiological conditions,  we use  stereolithography-based 3D bio-printing to fabricate organoid systems that take into account the in vivo biophysical factors such as tension imposed by geometry, ECM organization, rigidity, viscosity of the interstitial fluid, and so on.  Hopefully the pharmaceutical test results derived from such organoid system can better predict the outcomes of clinical trials than the currently prevailing cell culture model systems do.

Yun Chen is interested in developing multi-scale, multi-modal imaging tools to study how mechanics integrates with other biophysical and biochemical factors to sustain normal physiology or to cause pathology.