Kang Chen


Faculty Profile

Associate Professor




Obstetrics and Gynecology, Biochemistry Microbiology and Immunology, Oncology

Laboratory Address

Lab location 1: 421 East Canfield Street, Detroit, MI 48201
Lab location 2: 275 East Hancock Street, Detroit, MI 48201 

Laboratory Web Site


Research Description

Pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancer
We want to understand the pathogenic process of gynecologic cancers, and identify biomarkers for early diagnosis and accurate prognosis and individualized molecular targets for treatment. Current work employs cell-, animal- and patient specimen-based strategies to elucidate the cellular and molecular pathways important for the growth, metastasis and immune evasion of ovarian cancer, and screen for drugs that can block those processes.

Antibody dysfunction in immunodeficiency and lymphoma
We apply a diverse array of cellular, histological and molecular techniques to elucidate mechanisms that regulate antibody maturation and production by B lymphocytes, including immunoglobulin heavy chain class switching and somatic hypermutation. These processes are critical for the diversification of the antibody repertoire to generate effective immune protection. When out of control, they can result in immunodeficiency, autoimmunity and lymphoma.

Immune regulation of reproduction and reproductive disorders
A large number of reproductive disorders have an immunological basis. Leveraging our immunological expertise, novel and original diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies are being developed to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes and the associated infant mortality and disability.

For Prospective Students
The immune system has a pervasive role in the great majority of human diseases. Immunological concepts and technologies have been instrumental to the advances of modern medicine. Our lab uses a comprehensive approach of molecular, cellular, histological and immunological methods in animal models and human samples to study immune processes. We welcome outstanding students who are interested in immunology to rotate in our group.

Recent Publications

 Shan M, Carillo J, Yeste A, Gutzeit C, Garzon DS, Pybus M, Grasset EK, Yeiser JR, Matthews DB, van de Veen W, Comerma L, He B, Boonpiyathad T, Lee H, Blanco J, Osborne LC, Siracusa MC, Akdis M, Artis D, Mehandru S, Sampson HA, Berin MC, Chen K, Cerutti A (2018). Secreted IgD Amplifies Humoral T helper 2 responses by Activating Basophils through Galectin-9 and CD44. Immunity:in press.

Zhou JZ, Way SS, Chen K. Immunology of the uterine and vaginal mucosae. Trends in Immunology 2018;39:302-14.

Huang B, Faucette AN, Pawlitz MD, Pei B, Goyert JW, Zhou JZ, El-Hage NG, Cols M, Lin J, Yao F, Jassal JS, Dewar RS III, Dai J, Shen C, Polin LA, Nichols RA, Jones TB, Deng J, Bluth MH, Puder KS, Gonik B, Nayak NR, Puscheck E, Wei W-Z, Cerutti A, Colonna M, Chen K. Interleukin-33-induced expression of PIBF1 by decidual B cells protects against preterm labor. Nature Medicine 2017;23:128-35.

Huang B, Yin M, Li X, Cao G, Qi J, Lou G, Sheng S, Kou J, Yu B, Chen K. Migration-Inducing Protein 7 promotes epithelial ovarian cancer tumorigenesis and angiogenesis and independently predicts poor prognosis. Oncotarget 2016;7:27552-66.

Faucette AN, Unger BL, Gonik B, Chen K. Maternal vaccination: moving the science forward. Human Reproduction Update 2015;21:119-35.

Shan M, Gentile M, Yeiser JR, Walland AC, Bornstein VU, Chen K, He B, Cassis L, Bigas A, Cols M, Comera L, Huang B, Blander JM, Xiong H, Meyer L, Berin C, Augenlicht LH, Velcich A, Cerutti A. Mucus enhances gut homeostasis and oral tolerance by delivering immunoregulatory signals. Science 2013;342:447-53.

Hong P, Chen K, Huang B, Liu M, Li Z, Cui M, Chaqour B, Pan X, Barton ER, Jiang X-C, Siddiqui MAQ. HEXIM1 controls satellite cell expansion after injury to regulate skeletal muscle regeneration. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2012;122:3873-87.

Puga I, Cols M, Barra CM, He B, Cassis L, Gentile M, Comerma L, Chorny A, Shan M, Xu W, Magri G, Knowles DM, Tam W, Chiu A, Bussel JB, Serrano S, Lorente JA, Bellosillo B, Lloreta J, Juanpere N, Alameda F, Baró T, de Heredia CD, Torán N, Català A, Torrebadell M, Fortuny C, Cusí V, Carreras C, Diaz GA, Blander JM, Farber CM, Silvestri G, Cunningham-Rundles C, Calvillo M, Dufour C, Notarangelo LD, Lougaris V, Plebani A, Casanova JL, Ganal SC, Diefenbach A, Aróstegui JI, Juan M, Yagüe J, Mahlaoui N, Donadieu J, Chen K, Cerutti A.  B cell-helper neutrophils stimulate immunoglobulin diversification and production in the marginal zone of the spleen. Nature Immunology 2012;13:170-80 (cover story).

Cerutti A, Chen K, Chorny A. Immunoglobulin responses at mucosal interfaces. Annual Review of Immunology. 2011;29:273-93.

Selected Publications

 For a selected list of publications, please refer to http://chenlab.wayne.edu/publications.html


PhD (2005-2009), Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
BSc with First Class Honors (2001-2002), National University of Singapore
BSc (1998-2001), National University of Singapore


Awards and Honors

 2017 College Teaching Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2016 Research Excellence Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2015 Invited expert, Global Maternal Vaccination Landscape Consultative Meeting, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vancouver, Canada
2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Preterm Birth
2013 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Mucosal Immunology Studies Team (MIST) Young Investigator Award
2013 American Association of Immunologists Early Career Faculty Travel Award

Research Description

Our immune system is involved in the pathogenesis of a great majority of diseases. Our lab studies the regulation of human immune responses in infection, inflammation, immunodeficiency and reproduction.

Specifically, we study the regulation and function of B cells, the cells that produce antibodies in our immune system. Dysfunction of B cells and antibody production is associated with a variety of disorders, such as HIV infection, lupus, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.

During reproduction, impaired production of antibodies increases the susceptibility of the mother, the fetus and the newborn to infections. Conversely, uncontrolled production of antibodies against paternal fetal antigens and the ensuing inflammation are major risks of reproductive failure.

We want to understand the activation and antibody production of maternal B cells during pregnancy and how mechanisms regulating the normal behaviors of B cells break down in pathological pregnancy, and whether the restoration of these mechanisms can alleviate or prevent diseases.

Immunological concepts and technologies are integral to our research. We employ a comprehensive approach encompassing molecular, cellular, histological and immunological methods and the use of animal models and human samples to address questions relevant to human diseases in a mechanistic way.

Students who participate in the research in our lab will not only learn the various experimental techniques, but also (and more importantly) learn the ideas behind project design and technical communication. We believe that teaching these skills to undergraduate students at an early stage is critical to their learning and development in a competitive scientific environment.

Past students who have worked in our lab have won awards and co-authored publications, and successfully moved on to the next stage of our career.

Affiliated Departments