Loyola University Chicago

Department of Biology

Yanan Chen

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2015, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
MS 2008 China Medical University
MD 2005 China Medical University
Research Focus: Glial biology, neuroscience


I am passionate about uncovering the downstream effectors of oligodendrocyte protection and their roles in neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). To investigate the role of oligodendrocyte protection in inflammatory demyelination, my lab combines genetic mouse models with pharmacological, molecular, and cellular techniques.

MS is an immune-mediated inflammatory demyelinating disorder, characterized by CNS inflammation, demyelination, oligodendrocyte destruction, and axonal degeneration. Clinical manifestations are diverse and often disabling, and current immunomodulatory therapies have limited benefit on MS disease progression. While some focus on the many reasons that the BBB becomes permeable, understanding the stoking of the inflammatory response in the CNS is also critical for developing therapies, not only for MS, but other neuropathologies. Using cellular, genetic, and pharmacological approaches, the work in the Chen lab is directed toward understanding the cytoprotective pathways in oligodendrocytes against inflammation and the impact of oligodendrocyte protection on the progression of MS.

Most CNS disorders cannot escape the cycle of oligodendrocyte loss, demyelination, and axon degeneration. Each step may trigger neuroinflammation. Our long-term goal is to understand the importance of oligodendrocytes on the pathogenesis and progression of other neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and traumatic brain injury. Our research will help develop new oligodendrocyte protective therapies, break the vicious cycle and promote the functional recovery of patients.

A list of my publications can be found here.