Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program
  • Scientific Director, Imaging Facility
  • 215-898-3844, office

Our lab studies cancer metastasis, the disease that accounts for more than 80 percent of deaths from cancer patients. Metastatic outgrowth requires the complex interplay between cancer cells and the microenvironment in distal organs. Our lab is studying metastasis by focusing on the complex crosstalks between cancer cells and reciprocal stromal cells to reveal mechanisms that mediate cancer survival/growth in distal organs. We are particularly interested in the metastatic outgrowth in the unique brain microenvironment. For example, astrocytes (the stromal cells that only exist in brains) densely infiltrate into brain metastatic lesions. Notably, astrocytes have dual functions - killing and protecting - in the invaded cancer cells.  We are taking a multidisciplinary approach, spanning molecular and biochemical analyses combined with sophisticated in vivo imaging and live animal studies, with the ultimate goal of dissecting the dynamic cancer cell-astrocyte interactions both temporally and spatially. The mechanistic insights into the metastatic process in the unique microenvironment will facilitate the development of more effective therapies.

After obtaining her M.D. degree in China, Dr. Chen decided to switch her career path from clinical medicine to basic research with a singular goal: to gain a better understanding of cancer biology so we can one day provide effective treatments and perhaps even cures. She came to the United States to pursue her graduate research career in Roswell Park Cancer Institute. After obtaining her Ph.D, she joined Dr. Joan Massagué’s group in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as a postdoctoral fellow. In October 2015, Dr. Chen joined the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program at the Wistar Institute.


Postdoctoral fellow positions are available to study cellular/molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis, particularly in brain. Candidates should have a strong background in one or more of the following disciplines: cancer biology, neurobiology, immunology, small animal surgeries, and microscopy.

Interested individuals should contact Dr. Chen at qichen@wistar.org.

Selected Publications

1. Chen Q*, Boire A*, Jin X, Valiente M, Er MM, Lopez-Soto A, Jacob L, Patwa R, Shah H, Xu K, Cross JR and Massagué J. Carcinoma-astrocyte gap junctions promote brain metastasis by cGAMP transfer. Nature (Accepted) [*Shared first-author].

2. Valiente M, Obenhauf A, Jin X, Chen Q, Zhang XH, Lee D, Chaft JE, Kris MG, Huse JT, Brogi E, Massagué J. Serpins shield brain metastatic cells from death signals and vascular detachment. Cell. 2014;156:1002-16.

3. Chen Q, Zhang XH, Massagué J. VCAM1 mediates survival of breast cancer cells on arrival in the lungs. Cancer Cell. 2011;20:538-49.

4. Fisher DT*, Chen Q*, Skitzki JJ, Muhitch JB, Zhou L, Appenheimer MM, Vardam TD, Weis EL, Passanese J, Wang WC, Dewhirst, MW, Rose-John S, Repasky, EA, Baumann H, Evans SS. IL-6 trans-signaling licenses murine and human tumor microvascular gateways for trafficking of cytotoxic T cells. J. Clin. Invest. 2011;121:3846-59. [*Shared first-author].

5. Chen Q, Fisher DT, Clancy KA, Gauguet JM, Wang WC, Unger E, Rose-John S, von Andrian UH and Evans SS. Fever-range thermal stress promotes lymphocyte trafficking across high endothelial venules via an interleukin 6 trans-signaling mechanism. Nat Immunol. 2006;7:1299-308.

6. Chen Q, Wang WC, Bruce R, Li H, Schleider DM, Mulbury MJ, Bain MD, Wallace PK, Baumann H, and Evans SS.  Central role of IL-6-receptor signal transducing chain gp130 in activation of L-selectin adhesion by fever-range thermal stress. Immunity. 2004;20:59-70.