Irene Chen

Title(s)Associate Professor, Chemical And Biomolecular Engineering
SchoolHenry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0001-6040-7927 Additional info
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    Other Positions
    Title(s)Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry


    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    Harvard University, Cambridge, MAAB1999Chemistry
    Harvard Medical School, Boston, MAMD2007Medicine, Health Sciences and Technology
    Harvard University, Cambridge, MAPhD2007Biophysics
    Harvard University, Cambridge, MAFellow2013Systems Biology
    Collapse Awards and Honors
    2018  - 2023Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
    2013  - 2023Simons Investigator, Collaboration on the Origins of Life
    2016  - 2021NIH New Innovator Award
    2014  - 2017Searle Scholar Award

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    Irene A. Chen is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her laboratory studies life-like biochemical systems to understand their fundamental properties and address emerging challenges in biotechnology and infectious disease.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    1. RNA life on the edge of catastrophe. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Mar 26; 121(13):e2402649121. Chen IA. PMID: 38478681; PMCID: PMC10990123.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    2. Visualization of Engineered M13 Phages Bound to Bacterial Targets by Transmission Electron Microscopy. Methods Mol Biol. 2024; 2793:175-183. Yang Y, Chen IA. PMID: 38526731.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Cells
    3. Effect of montmorillonite K10 clay on RNA structure and function. Biophys J. 2024 Feb 20; 123(4):451-463. Saha R, Kao WL, Malady B, Heng X, Chen IA. PMID: 37924206; PMCID: PMC10912936.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    4. Discovering pathways through ribozyme fitness landscapes using information theoretic quantification of epistasis. RNA. 2023 11; 29(11):1644-1657. Charest N, Shen Y, Lai YC, Chen IA, Shea JE. PMID: 37580126; PMCID: PMC10578471.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    5. Caffeine and Cationic Copolymers with Antimicrobial Properties. ACS Bio Med Chem Au. 2023 Apr 19; 3(2):189-200. Salas-Ambrosio P, Vexler S, P S R, Chen IA, Maynard HD. PMID: 37096032; PMCID: PMC10119941.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:
    6. Effects of Preservation and Propagation Methodology on Microcosms Derived from the Oral Microbiome. Microorganisms. 2022 Oct 29; 10(11). Zhou B, Mobberley J, Shi K, Chen IA. PMID: 36363738; PMCID: PMC9693135.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:
    7. Modulation of α-Synuclein Aggregation In Vitro by a DNA Aptamer. Biochemistry. 2022 09 06; 61(17):1757-1765. Tran CH, Saha R, Blanco C, Bagchi D, Chen IA. PMID: 35994742; PMCID: PMC9454088.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    8. Emergent properties as by-products of prebiotic evolution of aminoacylation ribozymes. Nat Commun. 2022 06 25; 13(1):3631. Janzen E, Shen Y, Vázquez-Salazar A, Liu Z, Blanco C, Kenchel J, Chen IA. PMID: 35752631; PMCID: PMC9233669.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    9. In vitro evolution: From monsters to mobs. Curr Biol. 2022 06 20; 32(12):R580-R583. Vázquez-Salazar A, Chen IA. PMID: 35728532.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    10. The Chronic Wound Phageome: Phage Diversity and Associations with Wounds and Healing Outcomes. Microbiol Spectr. 2022 06 29; 10(3):e0277721. Verbanic S, Deacon JM, Chen IA. PMID: 35435739; PMCID: PMC9248897.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    11. Treatment of Wound Infections in a Mouse Model Using Zn2+-Releasing Phage Bound to Gold Nanorods. ACS Nano. 2022 03 22; 16(3):4756-4774. Peng H, Rossetto D, Mansy SS, Jordan MC, Roos KP, Chen IA. PMID: 35239330; PMCID: PMC8981316.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    12. Vesicle encapsulation stabilizes intermolecular association and structure formation of functional RNA and DNA. Curr Biol. 2022 01 10; 32(1):86-96.e6. Peng H, Lelievre A, Landenfeld K, Müller S, Chen IA. PMID: 34762821; PMCID: PMC8752491.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    13. PacBio sequencing output increased through uniform and directional fivefold concatenation. Sci Rep. 2021 09 10; 11(1):18065. Kanwar N, Blanco C, Chen IA, Seelig B. PMID: 34508117; PMCID: PMC8433307.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    14. Kinetic sequencing (k-Seq) as a massively parallel assay for ribozyme kinetics: utility and critical parameters. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 07 09; 49(12):e67. Shen Y, Pressman A, Janzen E, Chen IA. PMID: 33772580; PMCID: PMC8559535.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    
    15. Self-cleaving ribozymes: substrate specificity and synthetic biology applications. RSC Chem Biol. 2021 Oct 07; 2(5):1370-1383. Peng H, Latifi B, Müller S, Lupták A, Chen IA. PMID: 34704043; PMCID: PMC8495972.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9  
    16. Encapsulation of ribozymes inside model protocells leads to faster evolutionary adaptation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 05 25; 118(21). Lai YC, Liu Z, Chen IA. PMID: 34001592; PMCID: PMC8166191.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    17. Phage engineering and the evolutionary arms race. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2021 04; 68:23-29. Peng H, Chen IA. PMID: 33113495; PMCID: PMC8062571.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 16     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    18. EasyDIVER: A Pipeline for Assembling and Counting High-Throughput Sequencing Data from In Vitro Evolution of Nucleic Acids or Peptides. J Mol Evol. 2020 08; 88(6):477-481. Blanco C, Verbanic S, Seelig B, Chen IA. PMID: 32529275; PMCID: PMC7324411.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    
    19. Protocells. Curr Biol. 2020 05 18; 30(10):R482-R485. Lai YC, Chen IA. PMID: 32428486.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    
    20. Chimeric Phage Nanoparticles for Rapid Characterization of Bacterial Pathogens: Detection in Complex Biological Samples and Determination of Antibiotic Sensitivity. ACS Sens. 2020 05 22; 5(5):1491-1499. Peng H, Borg RE, Nguyen ABN, Chen IA. PMID: 32314570; PMCID: PMC7266372.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    21. Microbial predictors of healing and short-term effect of debridement on the microbiome of chronic wounds. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2020 05 01; 6(1):21. Verbanic S, Shen Y, Lee J, Deacon JM, Chen IA. PMID: 32358500; PMCID: PMC7195478.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 40     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    22. Promiscuous Ribozymes and Their Proposed Role in Prebiotic Evolution. Chem Rev. 2020 06 10; 120(11):4879-4897. Janzen E, Blanco C, Peng H, Kenchel J, Chen IA. PMID: 32011135; PMCID: PMC7291351.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    23. High throughput sequencing of in vitro selections of mRNA-displayed peptides: data analysis and applications. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2020 Mar 28; 22(12):6492-6506. Blanco C, Verbanic S, Seelig B, Chen IA. PMID: 31967131; PMCID: PMC8219182.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    
    24. Controlled phage therapy by photothermal ablation of specific bacterial species using gold nanorods targeted by chimeric phages. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 01 28; 117(4):1951-1961. Peng H, Borg RE, Dow LP, Pruitt BL, Chen IA. PMID: 31932441; PMCID: PMC6994977.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 38     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    25. Improved single-swab sample preparation for recovering bacterial and phage DNA from human skin and wound microbiomes. BMC Microbiol. 2019 09 05; 19(1):214. Verbanic S, Kim CY, Deacon JM, Chen IA. PMID: 31488062; PMCID: PMC6729076.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    26. From soup to peptides. Nat Chem. 2019 09; 11(9):763-764. Pascal R, Chen IA. PMID: 31406322.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    27. Effect of UV Radiation on Fluorescent RNA Aptamers' Functional and Templating Ability. Chembiochem. 2019 10 15; 20(20):2609-2617. Saha R, Chen IA. PMID: 31125512; PMCID: PMC6899979.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    28. Phage therapy administered noninvasively could be effective in thin tubes subject to episodic flow despite washout: a simulation study. Phys Biol. 2019 07 22; 16(5):054001. Blanco C, Chen IA. PMID: 31266001; PMCID: PMC6771420.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    29. Mapping a Systematic Ribozyme Fitness Landscape Reveals a Frustrated Evolutionary Network for Self-Aminoacylating RNA. J Am Chem Soc. 2019 04 17; 141(15):6213-6223. Pressman AD, Liu Z, Janzen E, Blanco C, Müller UF, Joyce GF, Pascal R, Chen IA. PMID: 30912655; PMCID: PMC6548421.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 42     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    30. Molecular Fitness Landscapes from High-Coverage Sequence Profiling. Annu Rev Biophys. 2019 05 06; 48:1-18. Blanco C, Janzen E, Pressman A, Saha R, Chen IA. PMID: 30601678.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 21     Fields:    
    31. Rapid Colorimetric Detection of Bacterial Species through the Capture of Gold Nanoparticles by Chimeric Phages. ACS Nano. 2019 02 26; 13(2):1244-1252. Peng H, Chen IA. PMID: 30586498; PMCID: PMC6396317.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 43     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    32. Lipid vesicles chaperone an encapsulated RNA aptamer. Nat Commun. 2018 06 13; 9(1):2313. Saha R, Verbanic S, Chen IA. PMID: 29899431; PMCID: PMC5998061.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 22     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    33. Analysis of Evolutionarily Independent Protein-RNA Complexes Yields a Criterion to Evaluate the Relevance of Prebiotic Scenarios. Curr Biol. 2018 02 19; 28(4):526-537.e5. Blanco C, Bayas M, Yan F, Chen IA. PMID: 29398222.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 19     Fields:    
    34. Analysis of in vitro evolution reveals the underlying distribution of catalytic activity among random sequences. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 10 13; 45(18):10922. Pressman A, Moretti JE, Campbell GW, Müller UF, Chen IA. PMID: 28981710; PMCID: PMC5737358.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    
    35. Analysis of in vitro evolution reveals the underlying distribution of catalytic activity among random sequences. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 08 21; 45(14):8167-8179. Pressman A, Moretti JE, Campbell GW, Müller UF, Chen IA. PMID: 28645146; PMCID: PMC5737207.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 18     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    36. From underwear to non-equilibrium thermodynamics: physical chemistry informs the origin of life. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2016 07 27; 18(30):20005-6. Chen IA, de Vries MS. PMID: 27388780.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    37. Computational analysis of fitness landscapes and evolutionary networks from in vitro evolution experiments. Methods. 2016 08 15; 106:86-96. Xulvi-Brunet R, Campbell GW, Rajamani S, Jiménez JI, Chen IA. PMID: 27211010.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    
    38. Origin of Life: Protocells Red in Tooth and Claw. Curr Biol. 2015 Dec 21; 25(24):R1175-7. Saha R, Chen IA. PMID: 26702654.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    
    39. The RNA World as a Model System to Study the Origin of Life. Curr Biol. 2015 Oct 05; 25(19):R953-63. Pressman A, Blanco C, Chen IA. PMID: 26439358.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 51     Fields:    
    40. Prebiotic chemistry: Replicating towards complexity. Nat Chem. 2015 Mar; 7(3):191-2. Chen IA. PMID: 25698324.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    
    41. Molecular crowding and early evolution. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2014 Dec; 44(4):319-24. Saha R, Pohorille A, Chen IA. PMID: 25585804.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 21     Fields:    
    42. Experimental fitness landscapes to understand the molecular evolution of RNA-based life. Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2014 Oct; 22:35-9. Athavale SS, Spicer B, Chen IA. PMID: 25270912.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    43. Genetic drift suppresses bacterial conjugation in spatially structured populations. Biophys J. 2014 Feb 18; 106(4):944-54. Freese PD, Korolev KS, Jiménez JI, Chen IA. PMID: 24559997; PMCID: PMC3944618.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 18     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    44. The paradox of dual roles in the RNA world: resolving the conflict between stable folding and templating ability. J Mol Evol. 2013 Sep; 77(3):55-63. Ivica NA, Obermayer B, Campbell GW, Rajamani S, Gerland U, Chen IA. PMID: 24078151.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 19     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    45. Comprehensive experimental fitness landscape and evolutionary network for small RNA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Sep 10; 110(37):14984-9. Jiménez JI, Xulvi-Brunet R, Campbell GW, Turk-MacLeod R, Chen IA. PMID: 23980164; PMCID: PMC3773786.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 68     Fields:    
    46. Selection for replicases in protocells. PLoS Comput Biol. 2013; 9(5):e1003051. Bianconi G, Zhao K, Chen IA, Nowak MA. PMID: 23671413; PMCID: PMC3649988.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 13     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    47. A population-based experimental model for protein evolution: effects of mutation rate and selection stringency on evolutionary outcomes. Biochemistry. 2013 Feb 26; 52(8):1490-9. Leconte AM, Dickinson BC, Yang DD, Chen IA, Allen B, Liu DR. PMID: 23360105; PMCID: PMC3641671.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 25     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    48. Cascade of reduced speed and accuracy after errors in enzyme-free copying of nucleic acid sequences. J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Jan 09; 135(1):354-66. Leu K, Kervio E, Obermayer B, Turk-MacLeod RM, Yuan C, Luevano JM, Chen E, Gerland U, Richert C, Chen IA. PMID: 23259600; PMCID: PMC3557965.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 28     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    49. Spontaneous network formation among cooperative RNA replicators. Nature. 2012 Nov 01; 491(7422):72-7. Vaidya N, Manapat ML, Chen IA, Xulvi-Brunet R, Hayden EJ, Lehman N. PMID: 23075853.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 126     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    50. From prelife to life: how chemical kinetics become evolutionary dynamics. Acc Chem Res. 2012 Dec 18; 45(12):2088-96. Chen IA, Nowak MA. PMID: 22335792; PMCID: PMC4610729.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 16     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    51. Prebiotically plausible mechanisms increase compositional diversity of nucleic acid sequences. Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 May; 40(10):4711-22. Derr J, Manapat ML, Rajamani S, Leu K, Xulvi-Brunet R, Joseph I, Nowak MA, Chen IA. PMID: 22319215; PMCID: PMC3378899.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    52. The prebiotic evolutionary advantage of transferring genetic information from RNA to DNA. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Oct; 39(18):8135-47. Leu K, Obermayer B, Rajamani S, Gerland U, Chen IA. PMID: 21724606; PMCID: PMC3185426.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 32     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    53. Inhibition of bacterial conjugation by phage M13 and its protein g3p: quantitative analysis and model. PLoS One. 2011; 6(5):e19991. Lin A, Jimenez J, Derr J, Vera P, Manapat ML, Esvelt KM, Villanueva L, Liu DR, Chen IA. PMID: 21637841; PMCID: PMC3102678.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 43     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    54. Quadruplet codons: one small step for a ribosome, one giant leap for proteins: an expanded genetic code could address fundamental questions about algorithmic information, biological function, and the origins of life. Bioessays. 2010 Aug; 32(8):650-4. Chen IA, Schindlinger M. PMID: 20658702; PMCID: PMC3133615.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    55. From self-assembled vesicles to protocells. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2010 Jul; 2(7):a002170. Chen IA, Walde P. PMID: 20519344; PMCID: PMC2890201.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 69     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    56. Effect of stalling after mismatches on the error catastrophe in nonenzymatic nucleic acid replication. J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Apr 28; 132(16):5880-5. Rajamani S, Ichida JK, Antal T, Treco DA, Leu K, Nowak MA, Szostak JW, Chen IA. PMID: 20359213; PMCID: PMC2857888.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 52     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    57. The basic reproductive ratio of life. J Theor Biol. 2010 Apr 07; 263(3):317-27. Manapat ML, Chen IA, Nowak MA. PMID: 20034501; PMCID: PMC2827768.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    
    58. Cell division: breaking up is easy to do. Curr Biol. 2009 Apr 28; 19(8):R327-8. Chen IA. PMID: 19409280.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    59. GE Prize-winning essay. The emergence of cells during the origin of life. Science. 2006 Dec 08; 314(5805):1558-9. Chen IA. PMID: 17158315.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    60. Shrink-wrap vesicles. Langmuir. 2005 Dec 20; 21(26):12124-9. Fujikawa SM, Chen IA, Szostak JW. PMID: 16342983; PMCID: PMC2548281.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    61. RNA catalysis in model protocell vesicles. J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Sep 28; 127(38):13213-9. Chen IA, Salehi-Ashtiani K, Szostak JW. PMID: 16173749; PMCID: PMC5072289.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 85     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    62. The emergence of competition between model protocells. Science. 2004 Sep 03; 305(5689):1474-6. Chen IA, Roberts RW, Szostak JW. PMID: 15353806; PMCID: PMC4484590.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 127     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    63. A kinetic study of the growth of fatty acid vesicles. Biophys J. 2004 Aug; 87(2):988-98. Chen IA, Szostak JW. PMID: 15298905; PMCID: PMC1304506.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 66     Fields:    
    64. Membrane growth can generate a transmembrane pH gradient in fatty acid vesicles. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 25; 101(21):7965-70. Chen IA, Szostak JW. PMID: 15148394; PMCID: PMC419540.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 51     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    65. A strategically positioned cation is crucial for efficient catalysis by chorismate mutase. J Biol Chem. 2000 Nov 24; 275(47):36832-8. Kast P, Grisostomi C, Chen IA, Li S, Krengel U, Xue Y, Hilvert D. PMID: 10960481.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 21     Fields:    Translation:Cells
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