ching yi chenAssociate Professor

Research Areas
Mechanism and regulation of mammalian mRNA turnover


Dr. Ching-Yi Chen (b. 1963) is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Dr. Chen received his B.S. degree from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan (1986) and Ph.D. degree from Baylor College of Medicine (1996). He then moved to University of California at San Diego and received his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Karin, where he was supported by three consecutive postdoctoral fellowships. He joined the faculty at UAB in 2002.

Research Interests

Post-transcriptional regulation exerted on mRNA stability is an important process in determining levels of gene expression. MRNA stability varies considerably from one mRNA species to another and is determined by specific cis-acting elements within the mRNA molecule. MRNAs encoding cytokines and proto-oncogenes are degraded rapidly in order to minimize detrimental inflammatory, immunological, or oncogenic effects. Many of these transcripts contain cis-acting instability elements within the 3’ untranslated regions that activate mRNA decay pathways. The AU-rich elements (AREs) are prominent elements that direct rapid mRNA decay by a process referred to as ARE-mediated mRNA decay (AMD). AMD is regulated by RNA-binding proteins that bind AREs and are collectively called ARE-binding proteins (ARE-BPs). Decay-promoting ARE-BPs bind ARE-containing mRNAs and target them for decay. Deregulated AMD can contribute to oncogenic transformation, inflammation, and immunopathology underlying the physiological relevance of this process. Understanding the basic mechanismsby which these unstable mRNAs are degraded is critical to reveal pathologic processes resulting from aberrant regulation of mRNA decay. Using mouse models deficient for decay-promoting ARE-BPs should also uncover the importance of AMD at the organismal level. Our research is directed to understand the mechanisms by which a decay-promoting ARE-BP, KSRP (KH-type Splicing Regulatory Protein), regulates AMD, and to investigate the in vivo functions of KSRP at the organismal level by using Ksrp knockout mice.The research in my laboratory is currently focused on the following areas: 1) understanding the role of KSRP in glucose and insulin homeostasis and 2) understanding the roles of miR-145 and miR-150 in whole-body metabolism and adipocyte functions. In addition, transcriptome-wide approaches are used to identify downstream target genes of KSRP, miR-145, and miR-150 involved in these processes. The contributions of our research are detailed understanding of how KSRP controls glucose and insulin homeostasis and how miR-145 and miR-150 control adipocyte lipid metabolism and whole-body adiposity. Our research is expected to identify novel factors governing adipocyte functions and insulin signaling that may provide future therapeutic targets to control obesity-related disorders and type 2 diabetes.


Graduate School
Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine

Postdoctoral Fellowship
University of California, San Diego


Kaul Human Genetics Building
Room 440A
720 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35294-0024

(205) 934-5073


Committed to exploring new frontiers in basic and translational research.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is an integral part of the vibrant biomedical research community at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). UAB ranks among the top public institutions of higher education in terms of research and training awards. Research conducted by the faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is currently supported by more than $4.3 million per year in extramural, investigator-initiated grants.


The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics carries out cutting-edge basic and translational research. Research strengths in the department includes cancer biology, chromatin and epigenetic signaling, metabolism and signaling, regulation of gene expression, structural biology, DNA synthesis and repair, and disease mechanisms.


Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics are trained to carry out hypothesis-driven research using advanced research techniques. This training will prepare our graduates for a career in not just biomedical research, but also in other diverse fields that require critical thinking. Our faculty also proudly trains professional (MD, DDS, & DO) students, as well as undergraduate students at UAB.

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