Kang Chen

Kang Chen

Associate Professor



Kang Chen

Academic Rank

Associate Professor

Office Address

421 E. Canfield Street, Detroit, MI 48201

Lab website



Dr. Chen studied in the National University of Singapore on a Singapore government scholarship. He initially majored in Computer Science and later graduated with First-Class Honors in biochemistry, studying tumor immunology and microbial pathogenesis. He did graduate research in immunology and microbial pathogenesis at Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and postdoctoral research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. While in New York, he also worked with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) on initiatives of sustainable urbanization and public health and organized regular seminars to host the world's political, economic and scientific leaders in the UN Headquarters.

He has received many awards and authored articles in leading scientific journals. He was a recipient of the Charles Janeway Memorial Award, Lijen Industrial Development Medal, a member of the NIH Mucosal Immunology Studies Team, the UN Committee on Human Settlements in consultative relationship with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund investigator in preterm birth. He reviews manuscripts for leading journals and grants for funding agencies in the US, Europe and Asia, and co-chairs the Immunology Focus Group of Wayne State University, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Henry Ford Health System.

Awards and Honors

At Wayne State University:

2023 | American Association of Immunologists Travel Grant
2020 | College Teaching Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2017 | College Teaching Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2016 | Research Excellence Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2015 | Invited expert, Global Maternal Vaccination Landscape Consultative Meeting, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vancouver, Canada
2014-2019 | Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Preterm Birth
2013-2016 | National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Mucosal Immunology Studies Team (MIST) Young Investigator Award
2013 | American Association of Immunologists Early Career Faculty Travel Award


B.Sc. with Honors (First-Class Honors), National University of Singapore
Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Courses taught

  • MD2 Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
  • CB7410/IM7410 Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy (Course Co-director)
  • IM7010/CB7010/IBS7090 Fundamentals of Immunology
  • PSL7690 Principles of Reproductive Biology
  • MGG7400 Molecular Biology of Cell Signaling
  • PSL7700 Stem Cell Biology
  • MGG7091 Scientific Enquiries
  • IM8999 Master's Thesis Research and Direction
  • CB7700 Cancer Biology Journal Club
  • HON4998 University Honors Thesis
  • BIO6999 Honors Program Terminal Essay
  • BIO6990 Directed Study in Biology


The goals of the Chen lab are to understand the control of immune responses in inflammation, infection, pregnancy and cancer. Currently, we are focusing on the regulation of antibody diversification and the production of neutralizing antibodies, the role of the immune system in pregnancy, and the impact of maternal diseases on infant health. 

Recent work from the lab has identified molecules that regulate the diversification of the antibody repertoire and avoidance of autoimmunity, and uncovered mechanisms that control the production of systemic and mucosal antibodies in infection.

Studies in the lab have also revealed immune mechanisms that regulate healthy pregnancy. The lab has demonstrated the presence of diverse populations of maternal B lymphocytes in the decidual tissues during pregnancy and the function of these cells in promoting pregnancy to term.

Research Interests

  • Antibody therapeutics
  • Mucosal Immunology
  • Reproductive immunology
  • Immunodeficiency, infection and inflammation
  • Cancer Immunology


  • Zhou JZ, Huang B, Pei B, Sun GW, Pawlitz MD, Zhang W, Li X, Hokynar KC, Yao F, Perera MLW, Wei S, Zheng S, Polin LA, Poulik JM, Ranki A, Krohn K, Cunningham-Rundles C, Yang N, Bhagwat AS, Yu K, Peterson P, Kisand K, Vuong BQ, Cerutti A, Chen K (2024). A germinal center checkpoint of AIRE in B cells limits antibody diversifcation. bioRxiv 2024.01.10.574926. doi: 10.1101/2024.01.10.574926.
  • Chen K, Hao Y, Guzman M, Li G, Cerutti A (2023). Antibody mediated regulation of basophils: emerging views and clinical implications. Trends in Immunology 44:408-423. (cover story)
  • Chen K, Giuliana M, Grasset E, Cerutti A (2020). Rethinking mucosal antibody responses: IgM, IgG and IgD join IgA. Nature Reviews Immunology 20:427-441.
  • Shan M, Carillo J, Yeste A, Gutzeit C, Garzon DS, Pybus M, Grasset EK, Yeiser JR, Matthews DB, van de Veen W, Comerma L, He B, Boonpiyathad T, Lee H, Blanco J, Osborne LC, Siracusa MC, Akdis M, Artis D, Mehandru S, Sampson HA, Berin MC, Chen K, Cerutti A (2018). Secreted IgD Amplifies Humoral T helper 2 responses by Activating Basophils through Galectin-9 and CD44. Immunity: 49:709-724.
  • Zhou JZ, Way SS, Chen K (2018). Immunology of the uterine and vaginal mucosae. Trends in Immunology 39:302-314.
  • Huang B, Faucette AN, Pawlitz MD, Pei B, Goyert JW, Zhou JZ, El-Hage NG, Cols M, Lin J, Yao F, Jassal JS, Dewar RS III, Dai J, Shen C, Polin LA, Nichols RA, Jones TB, Deng J, Bluth MH, Puder KS, Gonik B, Nayak NR, Puscheck E, Wei W-Z, Cerutti A, Colonna M, Chen K. Interleukin-33-induced expression of PIBF1 by decidual B cells protects against preterm labor. Nature Medicine 2017;23:128-35
  • Siriwardena S, Chen K, Bhagwat AS. Functions and malfunctions of mammalian DNA-cytosine deaminases. Chemical Reviews 2016;116:12688-12710.
  • Faucette AN, Unger BL, Gonik B, Chen K Maternal vaccination: moving the science forward. Human Reproduction Update 2015;21:119-35.
  • Shan M, Gentile M, Yeiser JR, Walland AC, Bornstein VU, Chen K, He B, Cassis L, Bigas A, Cols M, Comera L, Huang B, Blander JM, Xiong H, Meyer L, Berin C, Augenlicht LH, Velcich A, Cerutti A. Mucus enhances gut homeostasis and oral tolerance by delivering immunoregulatory signals. Science 2013;342:447-453.
  • Hong P, Chen K, Huang B, Liu M, Li Z, Cui M, Chaqour B, Pan X, Barton ER, Jiang X-C, Siddiqui MAQ. HEXIM1 controls satellite cell expansion after injury to regulate skeletal muscle regeneration. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2012;122:3873-87.
  • Puga I, Cols M, Barra CM, He B, Cassis L, Gentile M, Comerma L, Chorny A, Shan M, Xu W, Magri G, Knowles DM, Tam W, Chiu A, Bussel JB, Serrano S, Lorente JA, Bellosillo B, Lloreta J, Juanpere N, Alameda F, Baró T, de Heredia CD, Torán N, Català A, Torrebadell M, Fortuny C, Cusí V, Carreras C, Diaz GA, Blander JM, Farber CM, Silvestri G, Cunningham-Rundles C, Calvillo M, Dufour C, Notarangelo LD, Lougaris V, Plebani A, Casanova JL, Ganal SC, Diefenbach A, Aróstegui JI, Juan M, Yagüe J, Mahlaoui N, Donadieu J, Chen K, Cerutti A. B cell-helper neutrophils stimulate immunoglobulin diversification and production in the marginal zone of the spleen. Nature Immunology 2012;13:170-80 (cover story).
  • Cerutti A, Chen K, Chorny A. Immunoglobulin responses at mucosal interfaces. Annual Review of Immunology 2011;29:273-93.
  • Chen K, Cerutti A. AIDing the pursuit of IgA diversity. Nature Immunology 12:197-198, 2011.
  • Ballon G, Chen K, Perez R, Tam W, Cesarman E. Kaposi Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV) vFLIP oncoprotein induces B-cell transdifferentiation and tumorigenesis in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation 121:1141-1153, 2011. (cover story)
  • He B, Santamaria R, Xu W, Cols M, Chen K, Puga I, Shan M, Xiong H, Bussel J B, Chiu A, Puel A, Reichenbach J, Marodi L, Doffinger R, Vasconcelos J, Issekutz A, Krause J, Davies G, Li X, Grimbacher B, Plebani A, Meffre E, Picard C, Cunningham-Rundles C, Casanova J-L, Cerutti A. The transmembrane activator TACI triggers immunoglobulin class switching by activating B cells through the adaptor MyD88. Nature Immunology 11: 836-845, 2010.
  • Chen K, Cerutti A (2010). Vaccination strategies to promote mucosal antibody responses. Immunity 33:479-491.
  • Chen K, Xu W, Wilson M, He B, Miller NW, Bengten E, Edholm E-S, Santini PA, Rath P, Chiu A, Cattalini M, Litzman J, Bussel J, Huang B, Meini A, Riesbeck K, Cunningham-Rundles C, Plebani A, Cerutti A (2009). Immunoglobulin D enhances immune surveillance by activating antimicrobial, pro-inflammatory and B-cell stimulating programs in basophils. Nature Immunology 10:889-898.
  • Xu W, Santini PA, Sullivan JS, He B, Shan M, Ball SC, Dyer WB, Ketas TJ, Chadburn A, Cohen-Gould L, Knowles DM, Chiu A, Sanders RW, Chen K, Cerutti A (2009). HIV-1 evades virus-specific IgG2 and IgA responses by targeting systemic and intestinal B cells via long-range intercellular conduits. Nature Immunology 10:1008-1017. (cover story)


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