Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Faculty Profiles

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photo Kong Chen, PhD

Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Assistant Professor of Medicine


Phone: 412-692-2118

Office: UPMC Montefiore Hospital, NW628
3459 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-692-2118
Fax: 412-692-2260
Administrative Assistant:
Patty Geraci
Phone: 412-692-2118
Fax: 412-692-2260
Education and Training
BS, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, 2000
PhD, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, 2008
Postdoctoral, Louisiana Stat University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, 2011
Research Interest
My primary research focuses on studying memory Th17 responses using mouse models of Klebsiella pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, and Rhesus macaque models of SIV and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Using the K. pneumoniae model, we have demonstrated that immunization induced memory Th17 cells provide serotype/antibody independent protection against a variety of strains of K. pneumoniae including the recently described multidrug resistant New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase strain. The data suggesting Th17 cells can provide clade specific immune protection regardless of capsular serotypes. Recently, we have also demonstrated that P. aeruginosa antigen inducible proliferation of Th17 with memory cell characteristics is observed in the mediastinal lymph nodes of patients with chronic lung inflammation such as Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Enhanced Th17 responses seem to be responsible for the neutrophilic pathology observed in CF as well as patients with other chronic lung inflammations. We have found both IL-17A and IL- 17-driven chemokines can be suppressed by epigenetic inhibition in human cells ex vivo as well as mouse models in vivo. Ongoing research is focusing on defining the epigenetic regulation of IL-17 downstream chemokines specifically produced by epithelial cells in chronic lung inflammations. We recently carried out in depth transcriptomic analyses including Single-Cell RNA-seq in various tissues and samples from patients with chronic lung inflammation as well as mice using experimental lung inflammation models. Ongoing study also focuses on analyzing the chromatin accessibility landscape in the lung epithelium using an unbiased approach, ATAC-seq.
Clinical Interest
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Atarashi, K, Suda, W, Luo, C, Kawaguchi, T, Motoo, I, Narushima, S, Kiguchi, Y, Yasuma, K, Watanabe, E, Tanoue, T, Thaiss, CA, Sato, M, Toyooka, K, Said, HS, Yamagami, H, Rice, SA, Gevers, D, Johnson, RC, Chen, K, et all. Ectopic colonization of oral bacteria in the intestine drives TH1 cell induction and inflammation. Science. 2017; Oct 20;358(6361): 359-365.
Chen, K, Eddens, T, Trevejo-Nunez, G, Way, EE, Elsegeiny, W, Ricks, DM, Garg, AV, Erb, CJ, Bo, M, Wang, T, Chen, W, Lee, JS, Gaffen, SL, Kolls, JK. IL-17 Receptor Signaling in the Lung Epithelium Is Required for Mucosal Chemokine Gradients and Pulmonary Host Defense against K. pneumoniae. Cell Host Microbe. 2016; Nov 9;20(5): 596-605.
Chen, K, Campfield, BT, Wenzel, SE, McAleer, JP, Kreindler, JL, Kurland, G, Gopal, R, Wang, T, Chen, W, Eddens, T, Quinn, KM, Myerburg, MM, Horne, WT, Lora, JM, Albrecht, BK, Pilewski, JM, Kolls, JK. Antiinflammatory effects of bromodomain and extraterminal domain inhibition in cystic fibrosis lung inflammation. JCI Insight. 2016; Jul 21;1(11): pii:e87168.
Way, EE, Trevejo-Nunez, G, Kane, LP, Steiner, BH, Puri, KD, Kolls, JK, Chen, K. Dose-Dependent Suppression of Cytokine production from T cells by a Novel Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase Delta Inhibitor. Sci Rep. 2016; Jul 27;6: 30384.
Chen, K, McAleer, JP, Lin, Y, Paterson, DL, Zheng, M, Alcorn, JF, Weaver, CT, Kolls, JK. Th17 cells mediate clade-specific, serotype-independent mucosal immunity. Immunity. Immunity. 2011; Dec 23;35(6): 997-1009.
Chen, K, Pociask, DA, McAleer, JP, Chan, YR, Alcorn, JF, Kreindler, JL, Keyser, MR, Shapiro, SD, Houghton, AM, Kolls, JK, Zheng, M. IL-17RA is required for CCL2 expression, macrophage recruitment, and emphysema in response to cigarette smoke. PLoS One. 2011; 6(5): e20333.
Chen, K, Chen, L, Zhao, P, Marrero, L, Keoshkerian, E, Ramsay, A, Cui, Y. FL-CTL assay: fluorolysometric determination of cell-mediated cytotoxicity using green fluorescent protein and red fluorescent protein expressing target cells. J Immunol Methods. 2005; May;300(1-2): 100-14.
Chen, K, Kolls, JK. Innate Lymphoid Cells and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016; 193(4): 350-2.
Chen, K, Kolls, JK. T cell-mediated host immune defenses in the lung. Annu Rev Immunol. 2013; 31: 605-33.
Chen, K, Kolls, JK. Good and bad lipids in the lung. Nat Med. 2010; Oct;16(10): 1078-9.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Role of Toll-like Receptor 9 in Fibroblastic Reticular Cell-based Therapy for Intra-abdominal Sepsis
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases
Grant Number: R01 AI152044
Start Year: 2020
End Year: 2025
Title: Epigenetic Regulation of Chemokines in Lung Inflammation
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL137709
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2022
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R03 HL54231
Start Year: 2020
End Year: 2022
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Grant Number: RES
Start Year: 2020
End Year: 2022
Title: Pitt CF Research Development Program
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Start Year: 2019
End Year: 2023
Notable Achievements
Outstanding Research award PGH-Munich international lung conference, 2016
ATS Abstract Scholarship, 2016
STEMCELL AAI Annual Meeting Travel Award, 2015