Dr. Chen received his B.S. in Biology in 1982 and M.S. in Developmental Biology in 1985 from Fujian Normal University in China. He then received his Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Iowa in 1993. After postdoctoral training with his Ph.D. mentor Dr. Michael Solursh at the University of Iowa, he carried out further postdoctoral studies with Dr. Richard Maas at the Harvard Medical School where he was promoted to Instructor in Medicine in 1996. In 1997 Dr. Chen took an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University. He was promoted to Associate Professor and appointed as Director of Division of Developmental Biology in 2001. Dr. Chen's Research focuses on the genetic control of vertebrate organogenesis. His particular interests include the role of homeobox genes and growth factors in the epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that lead to organ formation. One major project studies molecular mechanisms of tooth initiation and patterning. Currently, the project involves identifying genes involved in vertebrate tooth initiation and their expression regulation, studying the origin of tooth developmental potential, studying the patterning of incisor and molar teeth and genes involved in this process and studying the molecular basis of recombinant tooth formation (a model for tooth regeneration). Dr. Chen's research also studies the molecular basis of non-syndromic cleft palate caused by gene mutations in mammals. Cleft palate is one of the most frequent congenital birth defects in human being. It occurs annually with a frequency of 1 in 700 to 1,000 live births among individuals of European descent. Non-syndromic cleft palate arises from genetic or environmental perturbation in the multi-step process of palate development. Similar to human beings, mutations in the Msx1 gene cause non-sydromic cleft palate in mice. The lab is currently examining the role of Msx1, Dlx1, Dlx2, Bmps, Shh and Fgfs in mouse palatogenesis. Dr. Chen's work includes research on the molecular basis of situs inversus in vertebrate animals. Situs inversus occurs with a frequency of one out of 8,000 live births in humans. It was just recently demonstrated that positioning of internal organs is regulated by a cascade of genetic pathways involving a number of genes. Dr. Chen's lab has been studying the role of transcription factor Pitx2 in the regulation of heart looping. They have recently cloned two novel genes in the chick that show a potential involvement in left-right asymmetric determination during early embryonic development. Functional analyses of these two genes are in progress.