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Wei Chen

Dr. Wei  Chen

Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research
University of Central Oklahoma
Department of Engineering and Physics
100 N. University Drive

Edmond OK 73034
United States

tel: 405-974-5147
E-mail: wchen@uco.edu
Web: http://faculty.uco.edu/cms/wchen

Area of Expertise

Laser medical application, particularly laser cancer treatment


Dr. Wei R. Chen received his undergraduate degree in Physics from Shandong University in Jinan, Shandong, China, in February 1982. He received his master's and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical high-energy physics from the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, USA, in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He is currently a Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Engineering and Physics and Assistant Dean of the College of Mathematics and Science at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is also the Founder and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Dr. Chen changed his research focus from particle physics to biomedical optics in 1992. His main research interests include laser-tissue interactions, laser photothermal treatment of cancer, laser targeted therapy and immunotherapy for metastatic cancers, anti-tumor immune responses induced by laser treatment, simulation of light transport in tissues, and the monitoring of cancer treatment using biomedical optics, magnetic resonance imaging, X-ray imaging, and other modalities.

Dr. Chen is a co-inventor of laser immunotherapy, a novel method for treatment of metastatic cancers, using a combination of phototherapy and immunotherapy. He is also a co-inventor of glycated chitosan, a novel immunological stimulant, for cancer treatment. He led his team in developing this unique approach from a simple concept to clinical trials in less than 10 years. Today, his team is conducting laser immunotherapy clinical trials for late-stage melanoma and breast cancer patients in the United States, the Bahamas, and Peru. The clinical results using laser immunotherapy in the treatment of late-stage, metastatic, and often no-option, cancer patients are extremely promising. Dr. Chen is also the inventor of an immunologically modified carbon nanotubes, which can be used for drug delivery, cancer diagnosis, and synergistic phototherapy and immunotherapy for metastatic cancers.

Dr. Chen had published more than 90 peer-reviewed (SCI) journal articles and more than 130 conference proceeding papers. He has edited seven conference proceedings. He has been awarded five US patents and several international patents, with several patents pending. In 2006, he established and has since chaired the SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics) international conference "Biophotonics and Immune Responses". He is the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of X-Ray Science and Technology and serves on the editorial board of several other journals. As a principal investigator, Dr. Chen has received more than $4 million of funding for research and education in the United States. He has served on the program committees for more than 60 international conferences. He has been invited to give presentations in the US, China, Russia, England, Peru, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other places around the world.

In addition to his research, Dr. Chen is also dedicated to education. In 2000, he led an effort at the University of Central Oklahoma to establish the first and only biomedical engineering undergraduate degree program in the State of Oklahoma and served as the Program Director from 2000 to 2006. In 2010, he founded, and had since been serving as its Director, the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Central Okalhoma.

Dr. Chen has received numerous international, national, and regional awards. He was elected an SPIE (International Society of Optics and Phtonics) Fellow in 2007. In 2008, Dr. Chen was named the US Professor of the Year. In 2011, he received the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Chen is also a recipient of the 2011-2012 United States Fulbright Lecturing/Research Award. In 2012, he received the SPIE Educator Award. He has served in SPIE Education Committee from 2009 to 2011 and SPIE Fellows Committee from 2010 to 2013.

Lecture Title(s)

Harnessing immune activities for cancer treatment using phototherapy and immunotherapy
Human cancer, according to written records, has existed for more than four thousands years. Today, it is one of the leading causes of human death in the world. Metastasis is prevalent in cancer patients, which is the major cause of treatment failure. Despite significant efforts in the past two hundred years in the development of traditional and modern therapies, the cure for cancer is still elusive. For the past 18 years, my research group has been searching for a cure for metastatic cancers. Laser immunotherapy (LIT) was developed with an ultimate goal in mind: eradicating metastatic cancers through a local intervention. LIT uses the combination of laser phototherapy and immunotherapy to target the immunological root cause of cancer. The laser photothermal interaction induces tumor deaths and tumor antigen release; application of glycated chitosan (GC), a novel immunological stimulant, induces tumor-specific immune responses. In our pre-clinical studies, LIT is shown to be highly effective against metastatic tumors in animals. We recently started clinical trials using LIT for the treatment of late-stage, metastatic melanoma and breast cancer patients. The results are extremely promising. The experimental results indicate a systemic, long-term anti-tumor immunological response induced by LIT, using the entire tumor cell as the sources of tumor antigens, based on the principle of in situ autologous whole-cell cancer vaccination. LIT, if proven successful, could become an efficacious, cost-effective, minimally invasive, novel modality for patents with metastatic cancers who face severely limited options.

I will briefly discuss the history of cancer, starting with the written record dated back from 2500 BC. I will also discuss the cancer death during the past 40 years in the United States. Major innovations for cancer treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, will be briefly discussed. I will introduce the development, the components, and the procedures of LIT. I will report the progress of laser immunotherapy in both pre-clinical and clinical studies. I will also present in vitro and in vivo studies on the mechanism(s) of LIT.

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