Dr. Yuanyuan Chen is an Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to Pitt in 2017, Dr. Chen was a Senior Research Associate, Department of Pharmacology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.
Dr. Chen received her BS in Biological Sciences at Fudan University, Shanghai, China. At Case Western, she obtained her PhD in Biochemistry and was a postdoctoral scholar in pharmacology. In 2015, she received an NEI K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (K99EY024992), “Drug discovery and mechanistic study of P23H rhodopsin associated retinitis pigmentosa,” as well being named an Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow of Department of Pharmacology at Case Western University.
Dr. Chen is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. She serves as a journal reviewer for the following peer-reviewed publications:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal (FASEB)
Journal of Investigational Biochemistry
Dr. Chen’s research interests include:
Disease mechanism study and drug discovery of retinitis pigmentosa associated with rhodopsin P23H mutation
Roles of histone deacetylases in retinal degeneration
The Chen Lab uses small molecules to mitigate retinal degeneration by restoring the homeostasis of misfolded proteins. Many inherited retinal degenerations can be classified as protein misfolding diseases. Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited and progressive retinal degeneration that currently lacks an effective treatment. A total of more than 150 rhodopsin mutations were found in about 30% of all autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa cases. A large portion of rhodopsin mutations can be classified in Class II mutations carrying folding defects. Her lab uses biochemical and pharmacological methods to identify and characterize potent and efficacious small molecules that either stabilizes the misfolded rhodopsin protein, or specifically clear the mutant protein. She and her team then analyze the efficacy of selected lead compounds in mouse models that are either susceptible to light-induced retinal degeneration or undergo a progressive retinal degeneration. As Dr. Chen works to develop an effective treatment for rhodopsin associated retinitis pigmentosa, she also uses the chemical genomic method to understand the structural properties of rhodopsin and its metabolism in rod photoreceptors.
View a complete list of Dr. Chen’s publication is here.