Jia Chen, ScD
img_Jia Chen
PROFESSOR | Environmental Medicine & Public Health
PROFESSOR | Pediatrics
PROFESSOR | Oncological Sciences
PROFESSOR | Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Research Topics
Cancer, Cancer Genetics, Epigenetics, Gene Expressions, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Epidemiology, Tumorigenesis
Multi-Disciplinary Training Area
Cancer Biology [CAB], Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics (DMT), Genetics and Genomic Sciences [GGS]
Molecular and genetic epidemiology: genetic susceptibility; gene-environment interactions in human diseases

The focus of our molecular epidemiology laboratory is to understand complex interactions between environment and genome/epigenome in contribution to human diseases.  We are performing functional epi/genetic analyses in population studies to elucidate disease mechanism and to identify/validate biomarkers for disease risk or prognosis. Such work is of great importance in identifying disease-causing exposure, clarifying disease etiology, designing prevention strategies through lifestyle modifications, and even assisting disease treatment and management.

We have three active research tracks in the lab:

(1)    Environmental epi/genetics in breast cancer.

We have been working extensively to elucidate the effects of environment (endocrine disruptors) and lifestyle (dietary intake) on breast cancer via epigenetic mechanisms. We incorporate environmental measurements (questionnaire, biomarkers), genomic/epigenomic tools (gene expression, SNPs, methylation, and microRNAs), and bioinformatics into large epidemiologic studies.  Given that cancer is considered a “developmental disease”, we are using a translational approach, combining animal and population studies, to systematically evaluate the role of endocrine disruptors (chemicals found ubiquitously in the environment) in breast cancer etiology during different stage (windows of susceptibility) of breast development.


(2)    Environmental Epi/genetics in Reproductive Health and Child Development.

We use placenta as our model system. As an interface between maternal and fetal environment, placenta is the source of fetal nutrients and immune regulation as well as a barrier for environmental toxins; these effects are modulated by simultaneous production of many pregnancy related hormones, proteins and growth factors thereby fulfilling a critical role in proper intrauterine development.  Thus placenta plays a vital role in productive health as well as fetal growth and neurodevelopment.  We are actively studying the role of placental genome and epigenome, such as genomic imprinting, in birth outcomes and child neurodevelopment.  We are also studying the environmental influences, such as maternal stress, nutrition and chemical exposure, on the placental epigenome. Utilizing resources of several birth cohorts, we are trying to build a comprehensive model to examine the inter-relationships among in utero environment, placental epigenome, and fetal growth and neurobehavioral outcomes. 

(3)    Developmental Origins of Human Diseases.

The Developmental Origins and Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis posits that lifelong health is partially shaped by the environment experienced during early developmental period. We are investigating this hypothesis in two exposure - disease models.  The first model is endocrine disruptors and breast cancer in which are conducting trans-disciplinary studies combining animal and human studies to systematically evaluate the role of endocrine disruptors in breast cancer etiology during different stage of breast development. The second focuses on adverse maternal environment during pregnancy (maternal stress, toxin exposure) and neurodevelopment of the children in which we are conducting genetic and epigenetic profiling of the placentas and cord bloods. 


BS, Beijing (Peking) University

MA, College of William and Mary

ScD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Harvard School of Public Health


Visiting Scientist Award

International Agency for Reserch on Cancer (IARC/WHO)


American Cancer Society Research Award

American Cancer Society


NCI Career Development Award


AACR-Phone-Poulenc Rorer Young Investigator Award

American Association of Cancer Research

1993, 1994

Arthur T. Ippen Travel Fellowship

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1983, 1985

Student Merit Award

Bejing University

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Chen did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2022 and/or 2023: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.