Irene A. Chen
Irene A. Chen
Boelter Hall 4531K
Boelter Hall 7523
Irene A. Chen received a B.A. in chemistry and an M.D.-Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard, advised by Jack Szostak. She was then a postdoctoral Bauer Fellow in systems biology at Harvard. In 2013, she became an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was promoted to associate professor. She moved to UCLA in 2020 to join the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and was jointly appointed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The Chen Lab studies life-like biochemical systems to understand their fundamental properties and address emerging challenges in biotechnology and infectious disease. Our focus is biomolecular design and evolution in two nanoscale systems: simple synthetic cells and bacteriophages (phages).
- Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2018
- Regents Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2017
- NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, 2016
- Hellman Family Faculty Fellowship, 2015
- Searle Scholar Award, 2014
- Investigator of the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life, 2013-2023
- David White Research Award from the International Society for the Study of
the Origin of Life (given triennially), 2011
- G.E. and Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, 2006
- Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, 2005
- Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 1998
- Westinghouse Science Talent Search, 1st place, 1995
Most Significant Publications
- Peng H, Borg RE, Dow LP, Pruitt BL, Chen IA.
Controlled phage therapy by photothermal ablation of specific bacterial species using gold nanorods targeted by chimeric phages.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913234117. [pdf]
- Verbanic S, Shen Y, Lee J, Deacon JM, Chen IA.
Microbial predictors of healing and short-term effect of debridement on the microbiome of chronic wounds: the role of facultative anaerobes.
npj Biofilms Microbiomes, 6:21.
- Janzen E, Blanco C, Peng H, Kenchel J, Chen IA.
Promiscuous ribozymes and their proposed role in prebiotic evolution.
Chem. Rev. [pdf]
- Pressman A, Liu Z, Janzen E, Blanco C, Muller UF, Joyce GF, Pascal R, Chen IA.
Mapping a systematic ribozyme fitness landscape reveals a frustrated evolutionary network for self-aminoacylating RNA. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141(15), 6213-6223.
- Peng H and Chen IA.
Rapid colorimetric detection of bacterial species through capture of gold nanoparticles by chimeric phages. ACS Nano, 13 (2), 1244–1252
- Saha R, Verbanic S, Chen IA.
Lipid vesicles chaperone an encapsulated RNA aptamer. Nat. Commun. 9:2313
- Pressman A, Moretti JE, Campbell GW, Muller UF*, Chen IA*.
Analysis of in vitro evolution reveals the underlying distribution of catalytic activity among random sequences.
Nucleic Acids Res. 45: 8167-8179. "Breakthrough" article. [pdf]
[data on SRA]
- Jimenez JI,Xulvi-Brunet R, Campbell G, Turk-MacLeod R, Chen IA.
Comprehensive experimental fitness landscape and evolutionary network for small RNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2013 110(37):14984-9.
[Data on Dryad: doi:10.5061/dryad.3rq8q88]
- Leu K, Kervio E,Obermayer B, Turk-MacLeod R, Yuan C, Luevano J-M, Chen E, Gerland U, Richert C, Chen IA.
Cascade of reduced speed and accuracy after errors in enzyme-free copying of nucleic acid sequences.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013. 135(1):354-366.