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Wen G. Chen, Ph.D.

Wen G. Chen, Ph.D.
Branch Chief and Program Director

Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health
Division of Extramural Research
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
6707 Democracy Boulevard II, Suite 401 Bethesda, MD 20892 (Courier Service - 20817)


Wen G. Chen, Ph.D., is the chief of NCCIH’s Basic and Mechanistic Research (BMR) Branch in the Division of Extramural Research. She joined NCCIH as a program director in March 2015. 
The BMR Branch supports and develops research programs focusing on fundamental science research, translational research, and intervention optimization research, as well as methodology and technology development related to complementary and integrative health approaches. These approaches include natural products such as herbal medicine (including traditional Chinese herbal medicine), dietary supplements and special diets, and probiotics and the microbiome; mind and body approaches including brain-based interventions such as meditation, imagery, relaxation, and hypnosis, body-based therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic approaches, and movement-based activities such as yoga and tai chi; as well as complex complementary approaches such as music interventions, art therapies, and nontraditional device-based stimulations. Basic mechanistic studies in model systems and human mechanistic clinical studies/trials are among the major research priorities of the BMR Branch. These areas of research are supported by the portfolios of individual program directors within the BMR Branch

Dr. Chen’s portfolio includes research and training programs related to fundamental and translational science research on acupuncture, meditation, and music and art interventions.   In addition, her portfolio supports a phased innovation award for mind and body approaches to optimize their mechanistic effects, program project grants, high-risk high-reward grants, and other special cross-cutting initiative grants.

Dr. Chen currently represents NCCIH on multiple trans-National Institutes of Health (NIH) and interagency working groups and committees. She is the NCCIH Program Representative at the NIH Pain Consortium and is heavily involved in the trans-NIH HEAL Initiative on behalf of NCCIH. She also serves as a working group member for the NIH Common Fund initiative on Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC), a member of the Trans-NIH Music and Health Working Group,  a member of Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS), and a member of the NIH Blueprint/BRAIN Initiative Marmoset Working Group.  Dr. Chen is also leading the NIH Blueprint Interoception Working Group.
Dr. Chen’s areas of expertise include neurobiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, pain, sensory and motor systems, and epigenetics.  She earned a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University. Under the tutelage of Dr. Michael E. Greenberg at Harvard Medical School, she studied the epigenetic regulation of activity-dependent expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). She also earned a master’s degree in medical sciences as part of the Harvard–Markey medical scientist training program at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chen did her postdoctoral training in proteomics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to joining NCCIH, Dr. Chen worked as a scientific editor at NEURON, a program coordinator at the National Institute of Mental Health, and a program director at the National Institute on Aging, overseeing the research portfolio on sensory and motor disorders of aging.  She has published on transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of BDNF, aging and central neural control of mobility in older adults, pharmacological management of chronic pain, harnessing neuroplasticity for clinical applications, chemical senses and aging, and proteomics. Her articles have appeared in Science, NEURON, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Pain, Pain Medicine, Brain, Journal of Gerontology, and Expert Review of Proteomics.

Dr. Chen's Active Funding Opportunity Announcements

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This page last modified January 21, 2020

Wen G. Chen, Ph.D. | NCCIH


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