Dr. Clark Chen to Lead U of M Medical School Department of Neurosurgery

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Naomi McDonald, Director of Communications
May 5, 2017
Renowned neurosurgeon joins the University of Minnesota August 2017

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (May 5, 2017)– The University of Minnesota Medical School is proud to announce Clark Chen, MD, Ph.D. as the Lyle French Chair in Neurosurgery and the Head of the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Neurosurgery.

"Dr. Chen is an innovative leader with a strong track record in research and clinical care," said Dr. Brooks Jackson, Dean of the Medical School and Vice President for the Health Sciences. “His leadership will be instrumental enhancing our strength in the neurosciences, and his oncology research will increase synergies between the neurosciences and the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.”

Chen is a nationally recognized brain tumor researcher and surgeon, with a dedicated interest in understanding how glioblastomas acquire resistance to radiation and chemotherapy. He is an NIH RO1 funded investigator with research focused on developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for brain tumor patients. He is also a leader in the study of DNA repair and gene therapy in brain tumors.

"The University of Minnesota has a world-class scientific research and clinical community. It has a tremendous legacy in academic neurosurgery," said, Dr. Clark Chen. “I am excited and honored to take on a role that will allow me to build upon the excellent leadership and research of generations of neurosurgeons."

Chen is currently the Chief of Stereotactic and Radiosurgery, Vice-Chairman of Neurosurgery and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). He played pivotal roles as the Principal Investigator of several surgery-based brain tumor trials, including studies using viruses engineered to destroy brain cancer cells. Clinically, he was at the forefront of developing and applying novel surgical tools, including the use of laser and ultrasound, as a treatment for brain tumor patients. Prior to his role at UCSD, he led the brain tumor programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers in the field of neuro-oncology, including publications in Nature, Nature Genetics, Science Translational Medicine, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Dr. Chen’s research laboratory in the Masonic Cancer Research Building will co-locate him adjacent to other top oncology clinician researchers in neuroscience, comparative oncology, and pathology. I hope to see collaborations borne from this proximity bring new insights into glioblastoma research,” said Douglas Yee, MD, Director, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Dr. Chen is also the recipient of several highly competitive research awards including the Damon Runyon Fellowship Award, the Sidney Kimmel Scholar Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award in Medical Sciences, the Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award, the Doris Duke Foundation Clinical Scientist Award, and the Forbeck Scholar Award. 

In 2015, Dr. Chen received the Presidential Award of Achievement from the President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou. The award is given annually by the Taiwanese government to individuals of Taiwanese heritage who have made exceptional contributions to their profession. Chen says his work is motivated by his patients and his family.

"I am the first in my family to have received a college education, and I remind myself constantly, that I am the son of two extraordinary people who have devoted themselves to my success. I also remind myself of the many brain tumor patients who the current standard of therapy fails” said Chen. “The reason I chose my profession is to keep the promise that I made to my mother – to study all the things that she never had a chance to.”

Chen received his B.S. in biology from Stanford University, his M.S. in epidemiology from Columbia University, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard Medical School. He subsequently completed his neurosurgery training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, including a clinical fellowship in radiosurgery and a second fellowship on stereotactic neurosurgery.

Dr. Chen brings unique and valuable experience to the University of Minnesota,” said Jackson.  “I am excited to bring a physician-scientist of his caliber on as a member of our leadership team.

Visit our website to learn more about the University of Minnesota Department of Neurosurgery.

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.