Ping Helen Chen, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Cell Biology

Office: 545 Whitehead Research Bldg

Phone: 404 727-1808

Email: ping.chen@emory.edu

Office Location:

Mailing Address:

Emory University - Department of Cell Biology

615 Michael St, 1941/001/1AF

Atlanta, GA 30322

Research Focus

The mammalian hearing organ, the organ of Corti, consists of highly stereotyped arrays of sensory hair cells and supporting cells that are likely derived from common precursors. During development, these common precursor cells withdraw from the cell cycle synchronously prior to initiation of terminal differentiation. Subsequently, the postmitotic organ of Corti undergoes cellular intercalation and elongates to form a polarized sensory mosaic topographically innervated by acoustic ganglion neurons. The long-term goal of our research is to understand how cells at particular locations of the developing inner ear are singled out to become the precursors of the sensory epithelium, withdraw from cell cycle, and subsequently differentiate into a given cell type of the organ of Corti, how the differentiation process is coupled to the establishment of the polarity of the sensory epithelium, and how the precise innervation of hair cells is established. We plan to use a combination of molecular genetics, cellular, molecular, and biochemical approaches to address these issues with both in vivo mouse models and in vitro organ and precursor/stem cell culture systems.

Research Interest

I. Proliferation control in the developing organ of Corti

II. Specification of the sensory and neuronal lineages in the cochlea

III. Patterning of the polarized and spiraled sensory array: cellular intercalation and planar cell polarity pathways

IV. Establishment of the precise innervation of the organ of Corti

V. Aging and regeneration of the mammalian auditory organ

Clinical Significance

Aside from prosthetics such as hearing aids and the cochlear implant, developing tools to induce regeneration in the sensory epithelia of the inner ear offers the only hope for the millions of people who suffer from deafness due to hair cell loss. The study of the pathways involved in critical developmental stages of the organ of Corti may provide important clues for hair cell protection and regeneration.

Lab Personnel

Chen Lab 2015

Current Students:

Lindsey Knapp

Entrance Year: 2013

BS, Ashland University, 2013

Fellowships:

Postdoc fellowship
NIH F32 DC012702                                                                                          
2/01/13 – 1/31/16                                                                                                                                        
PI: Cristy Tower-Gilchrist                                                                                                                                                                  
Sponsor: Ping Chen

NIH FIRST postdoc fellowship                                                                                                                                          
12/1/13 – 11/30/16                            
Fellow: Erika Alexander
Sponsor: Ping Chen

Publications

Publications from 2015:

Gao, Z., Kelly, M. C., Yu, D., Wu, H., Lin, X., Chi, F-L., Chen, P. (2015) Spatial and age-dependent hair cell generation in the postnatal mammalian utricle. Molecular Neurobiology. [PMID: 25666161]

Liu, Q., Chen, J., Gao, X., Ding, J., Tang, Z., Zhang, C., Chen, J., Li, L., Chen, P., Wang, J. (2015) Identification of stage-specific markers during differentiation of hair cells from mouse inner ear stem cells or progenitor cells in vitro. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 60, 99-111. [PMID: 25582750]

Publications from 2014:

Jones, C., Qian, D., Kim, S.M., Li, S., Ren, D., Knapp, L., Sprinzak, D., Matsuzaki, F., Avraham K., Chi, F., Chen, P. (2014) Ankrd6 is a mammalian functional homolog of Drosophila planar cell polarity gene diego and regulates coordinated cellular orientation in the mouse inner ear. Developmental Biology. 395, 62-72. Featured on the cover. [PMID: 25218921]

Gao, Z., Kelly, M. C., Yu, D., Wu, H., Lin, X., Chi, F-L., Chen, P. (2015) Spatial and age-dependent hair cell generation in the postnatal mammalian utricle. Molecular Neurobiology. [PMID: 25666161]