Kellen Chen, PhD

Assistant Research Professor, Surgery - (Research Series)

Kellen Chen, PhD, is an assistant research professor in the Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine Tucson. Dr. Chen recently completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University. He also previously received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia and earned his B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Chen co-directs the lab of Department of Surgery Chair Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, FACS. Together, they are currently studying therapies to improve outcomes after injury, skin grafting, chronic wound development, biomedical device implantation, and more. Among these many research avenues, Dr. Chen is particularly interested in the molecular and cellular drivers of fibrosis and regeneration across all organ systems, and he previously studied healing after myocardial infarction or Achilles tendon injuries. He is also currently working on obtaining FDA approval for a clinical trial to study pharmacological inhibition of mechanical signaling to accelerate healing of deep dermal injury

Dr. Chen has co-authored over 35 peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters, including first author publications in journals such as the Science Translational Medicine, Nature Communications, and PNAS. He has received a variety of awards, including the First Place Young Investigator's Award from the Wound Healing Society and the Bernard G. Sarnat, MD, Excellence in Grant Writing Award from the Plastic Surgery Foundation. He is also a guest editor for journals such as Bioengineering and the Journal of Visualized Experiments. Dr. Chen is a member of the Wound Healing Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Visit the Gurtner Lab website

Research Interests

Select Publications

Chen K, Kwon SH, Henn D, Kuehlmann BA, Tevlin R, Bonham CA, Griffin M, Trotsyuk AA, Borrelli MR, Noishiki C, Padmanabhan J, Barrera JA, Maan ZN, Dohi T, Mays CJ, Greco AH, Sivaraj D, Lin JQ, Fehlmann T, Mermin-Bunnell AM, Mittal S, Hu MS, Zamaleeva AI, Keller A, Rajadas J, Longaker MT, Januszyk M, Gurtner GC. Disrupting biological sensors of force promotes tissue regeneration in large organisms. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 6;12(1):5256. PMID: 34489407.

Chen K, Henn D, Januszyk M, Barrera JA, Noishiki C, Bonham CA, Griffin M, Tevlin R, Carlomagno T, Shannon T, Fehlmann T, Trotsyuk AA, Padmanabhan J, Sivaraj D, Perrault DP, Zamaleeva AI, Mays CJ, Greco AH, Kwon SH, Leeolou MC, Huskins SL, Steele SR, Fischer KS, Kussie HC, Mittal S, Mermin-Bunnell AM, Diaz Deleon NM, Lavin C, Keller A, Longaker MT, Gurtner GC. Disrupting mechanotransduction decreases fibrosis and contracture in split-thickness skin grafting. Sci Transl Med. 2022 May 18;14(645):eabj9152. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abj9152. Epub 2022 May 18. PMID: 35584231.

Chen K, Vigliotti A, Bacca M, McMeeking RM, Deshpande VS, Holmes JW. Role of boundary conditions in determining cell alignment in response to stretch. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jan 30;115(5):986-991. PMID: 29343646

Chen K, Hu X, Blemker SS, Holmes JW. Multiscale computational model of Achilles tendon wound healing: Untangling the effects of repair and loading. PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 Dec 14;14(12):e1006652. PMID: 30550566

Januszyk M*, Chen K* (co-first author), Henn D, Foster DS, Borrelli MR, Bonham CA, Sivaraj D, Wagh D, Longaker MT, Wan DC, Gurtner GC. Characterization of Diabetic and Non-Diabetic Foot Ulcers Using Single-Cell RNA-Sequencing. Micromachines (Basel). 2020 Aug 28;11(9):815. PMID: 32872278


  • BS: Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, PhD: Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia