Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health


Xiaoyuan Chen, Ph.D.

Shawn Chen staff photo
Senior Investigator




Dr. Chen received his BS (1993) and MS (1996) in chemistry from Nanjing University. He then came to the United States, where he completed his PhD degree (1999) in 3 years at the University of Idaho, under the supervision of Prof. Chien M. Wai. He was involved in chelation chemistry of alpha-emitting radionuclides. He then moved to upstate New York and spent 16 months as a postdoc at Syracuse University working with Prof. Jon Zubieta, where he learned crystallography and coordination chemistry of technetium and rhenium. Although his second postdoc at the Washington University in St. Louis was short, he was profoundly influenced by his mentor, Prof. Michael J Welch, who is renowned for applying modern chemistry to the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals in medical imaging.

He joined the University of Southern California as an Assistant Professor in 2002. By working with Prof. Peter Conti and Prof. James Bading, he pioneered multimodality imaging of angiogenesis marker integrin αvβ3. In 2004, he moved to the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) under the directorship of Prof. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008. During his tenure at Stanford, he successfully translated 18F-labeled RGD peptide dimer into clinic for first-in-human imaging studies. In the summer of 2009, he joined the intramural research program of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) as a Senior Investigator and Lab Chief.

He expanded the original PET Radiochemistry Group into the Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine (LOMIN). LOMIN has three sections: the Chemistry and Radiochemistry Section (CRS); the Biological Molecular Imaging Section (BMIS); and the Theranostic Nanomedicine Section (TNS). CRS has research interests in the development of novel methods for incorporating radionuclides and fluorophores into molecules for the study of biologically important processes. BMIS focuses on identifying disease-specific biomarkers; developing new molecular imaging probes through cellular and molecular-biology-oriented methods; applying molecular probes in multimodality imaging; and characterizing novel imaging and therapeutic agents, both in vitro and in vivo. TNS creates and applies nanobiomaterials and devices that can provide personalized diagnosis, imaging, and therapy.

Dr. Chen has published over 550 peer-reviewed papers (H-index: (H-index > 100) and numerous books and book chapters. He sits on the editorial board of over 10 peer-reviewed journals, including ACS Nano, and is the founding editor of journal “Theranostics” (2015 IF = 8.854).

Research Interests

LOMIN specializes in synthesizing molecular imaging probes for positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical (bioluminescence, fluorescence and Raman), contrast enhanced ultrasound, photoacoustic imaging, as well as multimodality imaging. This research group aims to develop molecular imaging toolbox for better understanding of biology, early diagnosis of disease, monitoring therapy response, and guiding drug discovery/development. LOMIN puts special emphasis on high-sensitivity nanosensors for biomarker detection and theranostic nanomedicine for imaging, gene and drug delivery, and monitoring of treatment. Research interests and ongoing projects include:

  • Ultrasensitive methods for multiplexed biomarker detection
  • Construction of nanoparticle platforms for effective drug and gene delivery
  • Probe synthesis for multimodality whole-body imaging of both extracellular and intracellular events
  • Clinical translation of molecular imaging probes targeting important biological processes
  • “All-in-one” theranostics for detection and monitoring of diseases as well as delivery of therapeutics


Selected Publications