Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Department of Medicine

Faculty Profiles

[Return To Index page]
photo Xucai Chen, PhD


Research Associate Professor of Medicine


Phone: 412-648-9512

Office: 200 Lothrop Street
Scaife Hall, Room 628
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-648-9512
Fax: 412-624-2264
Education and Training
B.Eng., China University of Mining and Technology, 1982
Ph.D., Yale University, 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Rochester, Electrical & Computer Eng. and Cardiology, 1993
Research Interest
1. Ultrasound imaging. (1) Ultrasound molecular imaging of angiogenesis using vascular endothelial growth factor-conjugated microbubbles and ischemic memory imaging with targeted microbubbles. (2) Novel intravascular ultrasound system (IVUS) for contrast enhanced imaging of coronary vasa vasorum for quantification of plaque neovascularization during atherosclerosis progression. (3) Stem cell imaging with ultrasound to track the trafficking of mesenchymal stem cells by uptake of the microbubbles.

2. Ultrasound mediated therapy. (1) Ultrasound assisted gene and drug delivery and therapy for cancer and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (2) Sonoreperfusion and microvascular reperfusion therapy by using ultrasound and microbubbles to resolve microvascular obstruction post percutaneous coronary intervention of acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

3. Ultra-high-speed digital microscopy. A High-speed Digital Microscopy Laboratory has been developed to support the functions of the Pittsburgh Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics. The Center houses the fasted multi-frame digital microscopy laboratory (UPMC Cam, 25 million frames per second, 128 frames) in North America dedicated to biomedical research. When combined with the Acoustics Laboratory, we are able to observe microbubble oscillations when exposed to ultrasound energy and their interactions with biological cells at very high temporal resolutions. This system is used to investigate mechanisms of ultrasound mediated bioeffects, such as sonoporation for drug delivery and gene transfection for cancer therapy, sonothrombolysis for reperfusion therapy for microvascular obstruction, and the phase transition phenomena for photoacoustic imaging and contrast ultrasound imaging.
Educational Interest
Advisor to undergraduate student researchers, graduate students, medical students, and postdoctoral associates on various aspects of ultrasound related research projects.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Brayman, A. A., Azadniv, M., Miller, M. W., Chen, X. Bubble recycling and bubble translational velocities in a stationary exposure vessel. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 1994; 96(2): 627-633.
Chen, X., Apfel, R. E. Radiation force on a spherical object in an axi-symmetric wave field and its application to the calibration of high frequency transducers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 1996; 99: 713-724.
Chen, X., Phillips, D., Schwarz, K. Q., Mottley, J. G., Parker, K. J. The measurement of backscatter coefficient from pulse-echo measurements: a new formulation. IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency. 1997; 44(2): 515-525.
Kaya, M., Toma, C., Wang, J., Grata, M., Fu, H., Villanueva, F. S., Chen, X. Acoustic radiation force for vascular cell therapy: In vitro validation. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. 2012; 38(11): 1189-1997.
Chen X, Wang J, Versluis M, de Jong N, Villanueva FS. Ultra-fast bright-field and fluorescence imaging of the dynamics of micrometer-sized objects. Review of Scientific Instruments. 2013; 84(6): 063701.
Chen, X., Leeman, J. E., Wang, J., Pacella, J. J., Villanueva, F. S. New insights into mechanisms of sonothrombolysis using ultra high speed imaging. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. 2014; 40: 258-262.
Yu, F., Villanueva, F. S., Chen, X. Radial modulation contrast imaging using a 20-MHz single element intravascular ultrasound catheter. IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency. 2014; 61: 779-791.
Pacella, J. J., Brands, J., Schnatz, F., Black, J. J., Chen, X., Villanueva, F. S. Treatment of microvascular micro-embolization using microbubbles and long -tone-burst ultrasound: an in vivo study. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. 2015; 41(2): 456-464.
Chen, X., Wang, J., Pacella, J. J., Villanueva, F. S. Dynamic behavior of microbubbles during long ultrasound tone-burst excitation: mechanistic insights into ultrasound-microbubble mediated therapeutics using high-speed imaging and cavitation detection. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. 2016; 42(2): 528–538.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Scar Detection and Treatment with Droplet Activation
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: University of Nebraska Med Center / National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL146489
Start Year: 2020
End Year: 2021
Title: Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT) for Improved Treatment of Cancer and Brain Diseases
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Grant Number: RES
Start Year: 2019
End Year: 2022
Title: Biological and Physical Mechanisms of Ultrasound/Microbubble-Mediated Therapeutic Gene Delivery Across the Endothelial Barrier
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
Grant Number: R01 EB026966
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2022
Title: Electrophysiologically-Activated Intravenous Ultrasound Contrast Agent for Imaging the Heart
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Drexel University
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2019
Title: Targeted Drug Delivery Using Liposomes, Microbubbles and Ultrasound
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
Grant Number: R21 EB019582
Start Year: 2016
End Year: 2017
Title: Microbubble-Mediated Ultrasonic Therapy for Coronary Microvascular Obstruction
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute
Grant Number: R01 HL125777
Start Year: 2015
End Year: 2020
Notable Achievements
Toma C, Villanueva FS, Wagner WR, Lee JS, Wang J, Chen X, Fischer A. Patent 8,460,269 "Directed cell-based therapy using microbubble tagged cells.", 2013
Wang J, Villanueva FS, Chen X, Fisher A, Wagner WR. Patent 8,940,277 "Intracellular microbubble for imaging an anatomical site.", 2015