New Faculty Q&A: Jun "Benny" Chen

November 2, 2021

Jun Chen

Jun "Benny" Chen is a professor of medicine, member of the Duke Cancer Institute, member of the Duke Regeneration Center, and now one of the newest members of FIP.

After earning his MD at Sun Yat Sen University in China in 1991, Chen worked in a postdoctoral position at Stanford University for three years before joining Duke’s faculty.

His lab focuses on experimental stem cell transplantation, stem cell engraftment, induction of immune tolerance and novel applications.

What projects are you pursuing in which photonics helps push the research forward, and how does photonics play a role?

My research focuses on hematopoietic (the production of all of the cellular components of blood and blood plasma) and immune reconstitution following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and radiation injury. Another major interest is graft-versus-host disease, which is a major complication following allogeneic stem cell transplantation. I have also been working with Professor Tuan Vo-Dinh in the last several years to develop platelet analogues. Besides flow cytometry, bioluminescent and near-infrared in vivo imaging and two-photon microscopy have been used frequently in my research.

What innovations in the realm of photonics within the past five years have made an impact on your research?

In collaboration with Professor Tuan Vo-Dinh, we have been developing novel platelet analogues based on the gold nanostar platform that was developed in his laboratory. We were able to image how this novel nanoparticle interacted with platelets during active hemostatic processes in live animals using two-photon microscopy.

Do you foresee any emerging photonics innovations impacting your research in the next five years?

Genetic mouse models using near-infrared fluorescent proteins will become more widely available. These models will allow the use of a single probe for imaging at whole-body and single-cell levels. In addition, nanoparticles will be increasingly used in my research as a probe for imaging or therapeutic agents.

Why did you join FIP and how do you hope your new affiliation will help your research goals?

Photonics is a rapidly developing area. My ongoing collaboration with Professor Tuan Vo-Dinh has helped me to develop novel products for thrombocytopenia. I hope my new affiliation with FIP will help me to learn more about current and emerging photonics techniques and continue to develop collaborations with other members of FIP.