Chen, Irene A.

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Associate Professor
Structural and Computational Biology
Systems Biology and Biological Regulation

Contact Information

Boelter Hall 4531K
Boelter Hall 7523

Short Biography

Irene A. Chen received a B.A. in chemistry and an M.D.-Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard, advised by Jack Szostak. She was then a postdoctoral Bauer Fellow in systems biology at Harvard. In 2013, she became an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was promoted to associate professor. She moved to UCLA in 2020 to join the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and was jointly appointed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Research Interests

The Chen Lab studies life-like biochemical systems to understand their fundamental properties and address emerging challenges in biotechnology and infectious disease. Our focus is biomolecular design and evolution in two nanoscale systems: simple synthetic cells and bacteriophages (phages).


Visit the Chen Lab website »

Honors & Awards

  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2018
  • Regents Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2017
  • NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, 2016
  • Hellman Family Faculty Fellowship, 2015
  • Searle Scholar Award, 2014
  • Investigator of the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life, 2013-2023
  • David White Research Award from the International Society for the Study of
    the Origin of Life (given triennially), 2011
  • G.E. and Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, 2006
  • Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, 2005
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 1998
  • Westinghouse Science Talent Search, 1st place, 1995


Most Significant Publications