Our research seeks to fundamentally understand how immune cells respond to pathogens and cancer, and how their dysfunction contributes to diseases. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms and use this understanding to develop better treatments for cancer and metabolic diseases and better vaccines for infection.

Our research is carried out at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) in Singapore.


Modeling Diseases and Treatments in Humanized Mice

Development of CAR NK cells for cancer adoptive cell therapy

Natural Killer (NK) cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells are two types of immune cells that can kill target cells through similar cytotoxic mechanisms. With the remarkable success of chimeric antigen receptor -engineered T (CAR-T) cells for treating hematological malignancies, there is a rapidly growing interest in developing CAR-engineered NK (CAR-NK) cells for cancer therapy. Read more >>

Macrophages in Immunity and Diseases

Macrophages in immunity and diseases

Macrophages are a key class of phagocytic cells that readily engulf and degrade dying/dead cells and invading bacteria and viruses. As such, macrophages play an essential role in development, tissue homeostasis and repair, and immunity. Read more >>

Modeling Diseases and Treatments in Humanized Mice

Infectious disease biology and vaccine development

​​Infectious diseases are still the major challenge to human health on the global scale, inflicting enormous suffering and economic loss, as exemplified by coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). Like other major infectious diseases in human history, the cost-effective and sustainable control of major infectious diseases will depend on effective vaccines. To develop an effective vaccine, it is critical to identify immunogens and protection correlates, which requires thorough understanding of host and pathogen interaction and disease pathogenesis. Read more >>

Modeling Diseases and Treatments in Humanized Mice

Modeling diseases and treatments in humanized mice

We have made significant contributions to the development of the humanized mouse technology by i) expanding HSCs in vitro for large scale construction of humanized mice, ii) expressing human cytokines in recipient mice to enhance the reconstitution and function of human immune cells, including myeloid lineage cells, and iii) generating humanized mice with human liver cells and matching human immune system. Read more >>

Join our lab! 

We are actively recruiting individuals, including lab technicians, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students. Please email Professor Chen ( with your interest and CV/résumé.