Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Chen Laboratory


Basic Research

Our lab combines bioengineering techniques with stem cell biology principles and neural interface technologies to develop new therapeutic strategies for patients with traumatic brain injury, stroke, and other disorders that cause loss of cerebral connectivity. In particular, we are interested in the reconstruction of cortical circuitry. A unifying theme of this work is the expansion of the neural substrate available to the brain for computational purposes. Current projects include:

  • Generating neural tissue, including axon tracts, from rat neuronal and human stem cell sources that recapitulate brain architecture.
  • Integrating these tissues with novel interfaces for recording and stimulation purposes.
  • ​Developing animal models to assess the survival and integration of transplanted neural tissues and their impact on neuronal networks.
  • Investigating neural circuit dynamics using in vitro models of multi-node networks.


Clinical Research

The goals of the clinical research efforts in the lab are to (1) examine how the heterogenous nature of TBI affects neuromodulatory treatment decisions, (2) determine the signatures of adaptive plasticity in the brain, and (3) enhance the mapping of brain function in there operating room. Current projects include:

  • Identifying neural correlates of the dissolution and reassembly of consciousness/cognitive function during anesthesia.
  • Creating real-time probabilistic maps of eloquent cortex and white matter tract.
  • Correlating brain electrophysiology with cognitive function in patients with severe traumatic brain injury.