Yiliang Chen, PhD

Yiliang Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor


  • Versiti Blood Research Institute,
    Room 235

Contact Information

General Interests

Metabolism, Immunology


PhD, Medical College of Ohio, 2009
MS, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 2004
BS, Fudan University, China, 2001


Secondary Appointments

  • Biochemistry

Dr. Chen received his Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics from Fudan University (China) in 2001 and his Doctorate degree from the University of Toledo (USA) in 2009, where he studied cholesterol metabolisms and signal transduction. He pursued his postdoctoral work at Blood Center of Wisconsin, Blood Research Institute, where he worked on the functions of a scavenger receptor CD36 and its role in chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis. Dr. Chen joined the MCW faculty in 2020 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. He is also a member of MCW’s Cardiovascular Center. Dr. Chen has a life-long passion in the study of metabolic diseases that are often associated with oxidative stress, abnormal lipid metabolism and chronic inflammation.

Honors and Awards

2012 ATVB
2012 Travel Award for Young Investigators
2008 Retiree’s Scholarship Award Winner, University of Toledo
2004-2009 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Toledo
2002-2004 Research Fellowship, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Research Interests

We are interested in a chronic inflammatory disease called atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of death in the developed countries. Atherosclerosis is characterized by atherosclerotic plaques in the medium and large arteries and the major components of the plaques are lipid-laden innate immune cells called macrophages. Using a variety of genetically modified mice as in vivo animal models together with in vitro cell culture model and many biochemical techniques, we study the molecular mechanisms underlying the pro-atherogenic functions of the macrophages.

We are also using novel state-of-the-art technologies including single cell RNA sequencing, high resolution confocal microscopy, Seahorse extracellular flux metabolic assays, GC-MS, and so on to explore cell expression network that are linked to immune activation and metabolic status. With these novel tools, we are able to study not only the macrophage functions but also the cross talk between macrophage and other cell types.

Laboratory Studies

  • How CD36-mediated signaling and the fatty acid trafficking influence macrophage immune activation?
  • How does mitochondria integrate lipid signals and other metabolic signals to determine its function (e.g. oxidative phosphorylation vs. ROS production)?
  • How does macrophage communicate with adipocytes under atherogenic conditions, which facilitate chronic inflammation?