Jia Chen, ScD
- PROFESSOR | Environmental Medicine & Public Health
- PROFESSOR | Pediatrics
- PROFESSOR | Oncological Sciences
- PROFESSOR | Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Research Topics:Cancer, Cancer Genetics, Epigenetics, Gene Expressions, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Epidemiology, Tumorigenesis
Dr. Jia Chen is Professor in the Departments of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Pediatrics and Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is the Director of the Molecular Epidemiology Lab the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory where she leads a team of scientists examining the complex interactions between the environment and the genome/epigenome and how they contribute to human diseases. Dr. Chen is a member of the Mount Sinai Institute for Exposomic Research and the Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures, a P30 Core Center of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Her lab uses the latest molecular technologies to interrogate complex interactions between environment and epi/genome in relation to human health. The research strategy of her group is to develop and validate novel epi/genomic biomarkers to elucidate effects of environment and lifestyle (e.g. endocrine disruptors, metals, stress, and diet) on the epi/genome (e.g. transcriptome, methylome, metabolome, microRNA, genomic imprinting, and microbiome) and their ultimate impact on human diseases (e.g. cancer, reproductive abnormalities and neurodevelopmental deficits in children). By incorporating animal and in vitro models with population studies, her group uses transdisciplinary and integrative approach to explore functional variations of the epi/genome that are responsive to environmental insults and indicative of disease risk. As an example, one area of research of her lab is the Developmental Origin and Health and Diseases (DOHaD) where her team interrogates placenta epi/genome to develop placenta-based biomarkers for in utero exposure as well as developmental diseases utilizing resources of several birth cohorts. Dr. Chen has published over 100 research studies in the area of environmental health and epigenetics.
Dr. Chen is also a faculty member in the Graduate School of Biological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She was the recipient of the Senior Visiting Scientist Award and served on the Fellowship Selection Committee for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO). Dr. Chen serves on the editorial boards of the journals Environmental Epigenetics and the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, and she has been a member of several research grant peer review committees, including for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Dutch Cancer Society.
She received her ScD in the fields of Toxicology and Environmental Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School.
Multi-Disciplinary Training AreasCancer Biology [CAB], Genetics and Genomic Sciences [GGS]
BS, Beijing (Peking) University
MA, College of William and Mary
ScD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard School of Public Health
Visiting Scientist Award
American Cancer Society Research Award
NCI Career Development Award
AACR-Phone-Poulenc Rorer Young Investigator Award
Arthur T. Ippen Travel Fellowship
Student Merit Award
Molecular and genetic epidemiology: genetic susceptibility; gene-environment interactions in human diseases
The focus of our molecular epidemiology laboratory is to understand complex interactions between environment and genome/epigenome in contribution to human diseases. We are performing functional epi/genetic analyses in population studies to elucidate disease mechanism and to identify/validate biomarkers for disease risk or prognosis. Such work is of great importance in identifying disease-causing exposure, clarifying disease etiology, designing prevention strategies through lifestyle modifications, and even assisting disease treatment and management.
We have three active research tracks in the lab:
(1) Environmental epi/genetics in breast cancer.
We have been working extensively to elucidate the effects of environment (endocrine disruptors) and lifestyle (dietary intake) on breast cancer via epigenetic mechanisms. We incorporate environmental measurements (questionnaire, biomarkers), genomic/epigenomic tools (gene expression, SNPs, methylation, and microRNAs), and bioinformatics into large epidemiologic studies. Given that cancer is considered a “developmental disease”, we are using a translational approach, combining animal and population studies, to systematically evaluate the role of endocrine disruptors (chemicals found ubiquitously in the environment) in breast cancer etiology during different stage (windows of susceptibility) of breast development.
(2) Environmental Epi/genetics in Reproductive Health and Child Development.
We use placenta as our model system. As an interface between maternal and fetal environment, placenta is the source of fetal nutrients and immune regulation as well as a barrier for environmental toxins; these effects are modulated by simultaneous production of many pregnancy related hormones, proteins and growth factors thereby fulfilling a critical role in proper intrauterine development. Thus placenta plays a vital role in productive health as well as fetal growth and neurodevelopment. We are actively studying the role of placental genome and epigenome, such as genomic imprinting, in birth outcomes and child neurodevelopment. We are also studying the environmental influences, such as maternal stress, nutrition and chemical exposure, on the placental epigenome. Utilizing resources of several birth cohorts, we are trying to build a comprehensive model to examine the inter-relationships among in utero environment, placental epigenome, and fetal growth and neurobehavioral outcomes.
(3) Developmental Origins of Human Diseases.
The Developmental Origins and Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis posits that lifelong health is partially shaped by the environment experienced during early developmental period. We are investigating this hypothesis in two exposure - disease models. The first model is endocrine disruptors and breast cancer in which are conducting trans-disciplinary studies combining animal and human studies to systematically evaluate the role of endocrine disruptors in breast cancer etiology during different stage of breast development. The second focuses on adverse maternal environment during pregnancy (maternal stress, toxin exposure) and neurodevelopment of the children in which we are conducting genetic and epigenetic profiling of the placentas and cord bloods.