Skip to main content

Wen Chen, Ph.D.

Branch Chief, Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

Division of Extramural Research

Wen G. Chen, Ph.D.

Phone: 301-451-3989


Wen G. Chen, Ph.D., formerly a program director at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has been the Branch Chief for Basic and Mechanistic Research since 2017. The branch supports research using a variety of research approaches, ranging from biochemical, cellular, physiological, and imaging to behavioral methods, to investigate the basic science and mechanistic processes of complementary and integrative health in biological systems including cells, tissues, and organs; animal models; and humans; as well as the mechanisms of action for natural products, mind and body practices, and other integrative health approaches. Dr. Chen also manages a research portfolio, which currently includes topics such as interoception, music-based interventions, and other art-based interventions and therapies. 

Dr. Chen holds a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University. Under the tutelage of Dr. Michael E. Greenberg at Harvard Medical School, she studied the epigenetic regulation of activity-dependent expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). She also earned a master’s degree in medical sciences as part of the Harvard-Markey Medical Scientist training program at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chen did her postdoctoral training in proteomics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining NCCIH, Dr. Chen worked as a scientific editor at NEURON, a program coordinator at the National Institute of Mental Health, and a program director at the National Institute on Aging, overseeing the research portfolio on sensory and motor disorders of aging. 

Dr. Chen chairs the Trans-NIH Interoception Research Working Group and co-chairs the Trans-NIH Music and Health Working Group. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, and the Sound Health Partners Executive Committee. In addition, Dr. Chen participates in a number of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-wide activities, including serving as the NCCIH representative at the NIH Pain Consortium, the NIH Common Fund initiative on Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC), and the NIH BRAIN Initiative

She has published on a variety of research topics, including music and music-based interventions, interoception, healthy aging of whole person, sickle cell disease pain, natural products research, science of behavior change, transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of BDNF, aging and central neural control of mobility in older adults, pharmacologic management of chronic pain, harnessing neuroplasticity for clinical applications, chemical senses and aging, and proteomics. Her articles have appeared in Lancet,Science, NEURON, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Pain, Pain Medicine, Aging Cell, Brain, Journal of Gerontology, and Expert Review of Proteomics.

Dr. Chen's Blog Post