James Chen

Faculty Advisor, High-Throughput Screening
Mail Code: 0000

Dr. Chen joined the Stanford faculty in 2003, and he is the Herbert and Marguerite Jauch Professor, Professor and Chair of Chemical and Systems Biology, Professor of Developmental Biology, and Professor of Chemistry.

Prof. Chen received his A.B. in Chemistry at Harvard, where he pursued undergraduate research on affinity gel electrophoresis in George Whitesides’ lab. He then obtained his PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, working with Stuart Schreiber to discover peptide ligands of Src Homology 3 domains and the cellular target of the immunosuppressant myriocin. Due to his burgeoning interest in developmental biology, Prof. Chen next pursued postdoctoral studies with Philip Beachy at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he identified the Hedgehog signaling protein Smoothened as the target of the plant-derived teratogen cyclopamine. He also discovered several other Hedgehog pathway inhibitors in high-throughput chemical screens. Prof. Chen’s lab at Stanford explores the crossroads of chemical chemistry, developmental biology, and cancer biology. His research group’s scientific contributions include first-in-class selective inhibitors of cytoplasmic dyneins and aldehyde dehydrogenase 1B1, caged antisense oligonucleotides that enable light- or enzyme-triggered gene silencing, lanthanide-based methods for ultrasensitive in vivo imaging, the discovery of ARHGAP36 as a non-canonical Hedgehog pathway activator, and the identification of T-box transcription factor-dependent genes that regulate mesoderm development. His current research interests include the metabolic and signaling pathways that maintain cancer stem cells, sperm development and male contraception, and optogenetic technologies.