Chen, Irene A.



Irene A. Chen is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, she was an assistant and then associate professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received a B.A. in chemistry and an M.D.-Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard, advised by Jack Szostak, and was a Bauer Fellow in systems biology at Harvard. She has received the Searle Scholar award, NIH New Innovator award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, and the David White award for outstanding contribution in astrobiology. She has been a Simons Investigator for the Collaboration on the Origin of Life since 2013.

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).

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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

Representative Publications

Most Recent Publications (for a full list, please visit here)

Most Significant Publications