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Wenhao Chen, PhD

Associate Professor of Transplant Immunology in Surgery, Academic Institute
Associate Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Wenhao Chen earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of Toronto in 2006. He held faculty appointments at the University of Toledo College of Medicine in Toledo, Ohio and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas before becoming a member of Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2013. As a member of the Transplantation Immunology Program, Dr. Chen studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying immune tolerance. He has published more than 40 original papers and review articles in high-impact scientific journals.

Description of Research

Dr. Chen’s research interests are to define the molecular mechanisms by which immune cells reject the transplanted organs or cause autoimmune type 1 diabetes and develop novel strategies to selectively abrogate undesired immune responses against self-islets or transplanted organs.

Areas Of Expertise

Transplantation Type 1 diabetes T cell Immune tolerance
Education & Training

Postdoctoral Associate, Baylor College of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto
PhD, University of Toronto
Postdoctoral Fellowship, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth

Epigenetically modifying the Foxp3 locus for generation of stable antigen-specific Tregs as cellular therapeutics
Chen, S, Zhang, L, Ying, Y, Wang, Y, Arnold, PR, Wang, G, Li, J, Ghobrial, RM, Chen, W, Xiao, X & Li, XC 2020, American Journal of Transplantation, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 2366-2379.

PIRs mediate innate myeloid cell memory to nonself MHC molecules
Dai, H, Lan, P, Zhao, D, Abou-Daya, K, Liu, W, Chen, W, Friday, AJ, Williams, AL, Sun, T, Chen, J, Chen, W, Mortin-Toth, S, Danska, JS, Wiebe, C, Nickerson, P, Li, T, Mathews, LR, Turnquist, HR, Nicotra, ML, Gingras, S, Takayama, E, Kubagawa, H, Shlomchik, MJ, Oberbarnscheidt, MH, Li, XC & Lakkis, FG 2020, , Science, vol. 368, no. 6495, pp. 1122-1127.

T cell exhaustion is associated with antigen abundance and promotes transplant acceptance
Zou, D, Dai, Y, Zhang, X, Wang, G, Xiao, X, Jia, P, Li, XC, Guo, Z & Chen, W 2020, American Journal of Transplantation, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 2540-2550.

T follicular helper and memory cell responses and the mTOR pathway in murine heart transplantation
Xie, A, Yan, H, Fu, J, He, A, Xiao, X, Li, XC & Chen, W 2020, , Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 134-144.

Interleukin 21 (IL-21) regulates chronic allograft vasculopathy (CAV) in murine heart allograft rejection
Khattar, M, Baum, CE, Schroder, P, Breidenbach, JD, Haller, ST, Chen, W & Stepkowski, S 2019, , PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 11, e0225624.

Coinhibition of mTORC1/mTORC2 and RhoA /ROCK pathways prevents chronic rejection of rat cardiac allografts
Chen, W, Chen, W, Li, XC, Ghobrial, RM & Kloc, M 2018, , Transplantation Reports, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 21-28.

OX40 Costimulation Inhibits Foxp3 Expression and Treg Induction via BATF3-Dependent and Independent Mechanisms
Zhang, X, Xiao, X, Lan, P, Li, J, Dou, Y, Chen, W, Ishii, N, Chen, S, Xia, B, Chen, K, Taparowsky, E & Li, XC 2018, , Cell Reports, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 607-618.

Role of the NF-kB family member RelB in regulation of Foxp3+ regulatory t cells in vivo
Li, J, Chen, S, Chen, W, Ye, Q, Dou, Y, Xiao, Y, Zhang, L, Minze, LJ, Li, XC & Xiao, X 2018, , Journal of Immunology, vol. 200, no. 4, pp. 1325-1334.

Ablation of interferon regulatory factor 4 in T cells induces “memory” of transplant tolerance that is irreversible by immune checkpoint blockade
Zhang, H, Wu, J, Zou, D, Xiao, X, Yan, H, Li, XC & Chen, W 2019, , American Journal of Transplantation, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 884-893.

Screening RhoA/ROCK inhibitors for the ability to prevent chronic rejection of mouse cardiac allografts
Chen, W, Chen, S, Chen, W, Li, XC, Ghobrial, RM & Kloc, M 2018, , Transplant Immunology, vol. 50, pp. 15-25.

Macrophage subpopulations and their impact on chronic allograft rejection versus graft acceptance in a mouse heart transplant model
Zhao, Y, Chen, S, Lan, P, Wu, C, Dou, Y, Xiao, X, Zhang, Z, Minze, L, He, X, Chen, W & Li, XC 2017, , American Journal of Transplantation.

Anti-Tcrbmabin combination with neurogenin3gene therapy reverses established overt type 1 diabetes in female nod mice
Xie, A, Li, R, Jiang, T, Yan, H, Zhang, H, Yang, Y, Yang, L, Yechoor, V, Chan, L & Chen, W 2017, , Endocrinology, vol. 158, no. 10, pp. 3140-3151.

Ablation of Transcription Factor IRF4 Promotes Transplant Acceptance by Driving Allogenic CD4+ T Cell Dysfunction
Wu, J, Zhang, H, Shi, X, Xiao, X, Fan, Y, Minze, LJ, Wang, J, Ghobrial, RM, Xia, J, Sciammas, R, Li, XC & Chen, W 2017, , Immunity.

Dissonant response of M0/M2 and M1 bone-marrow-derived macrophages to RhoA pathway interference
Liu, Y, Chen, W, Minze, LJ, Kubiak, JZ, Li, XC, Ghobrial, RM & Kloc, M 2016, , Cell and Tissue Research, pp. 1-14.

Macrophage/monocyte-specific deletion of Ras homolog gene family member A (RhoA) downregulates fractalkine receptor and inhibits chronic rejection of mouse cardiac allografts
Liu, Y, Chen, W, Wu, C, Minze, LJ, Kubiak, JZ, Li, XC, Kloc, M & Ghobrial, RM 2017, , Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 340-354.

Proinsulin-producing, hyperglycemia-induced adipose tissue macrophages underlie insulin resistance in high fat-fed diabetic mice
Dale Buras, E, Yang, L, Saha, P, Kim, J, Mehta, P, Yang, Y, Hilsenbeck, S, Kojima, H, Chen, W, Smith, CW & Chan, L 2015, , FASEB Journal, vol. 29, no. 8, pp. 3537-3548.

PD-1-dependent restoration of self-tolerance in the NOD mouse model of diabetes after transient anti-TCRß mAb therapy
Schroder, PM, Khattar, M, Baum, CE, Miyahara, Y, Chen, W, Vyas, R, Muralidharan, S, Mierzejewska, B & Stepkowski, SM 2015, , Diabetologia, vol. 58, no. 6, pp. 1309-1318.

PD-L1-driven tolerance protects neurogenin3-induced islet neogenesis to reverse established type 1 diabetes in NOD mice
Li, R, Lee, J, Kim, MS, Liu, V, Moulik, M, Li, H, Yi, Q, Xie, A, Chen, W, Yang, L, Li, Y, Tsai, TH, Oka, K, Chan, L & Yechoor, V 2015, , Diabetes, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 529-540.

TCR stimulation without co-stimulatory signals induces expression of "tolerogenic" genes in memory CD4 T cells but does not compromise cell proliferation
Xie, A, Zheng, X, Khattar, M, Schroder, P, Stepkowski, S, Xia, J & Chen, W 2015, , Molecular Immunology, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 406-411.

The evolving roles of memory immune cells in transplantation
Chen, W, Ghobrial, RM & Li, XC 2015, , Transplantation, vol. 99, no. 10, pp. 2029-2037.