Rochester, Minnesota




Bingkun K. Chen, Ph.D., M.B.A., focuses on spinal cord injury and regeneration. Dr. Chen developed and improved two axonal tracing techniques, bidirectional axonal tracing with DiI and DiO, and retrograde axonal tracing with Fast Blue. His team uses tissue-engineered technology with biodegradable polymer scaffolds loaded with growth-promoting cells, called Schwann cells, to bridge the transection. The long-term goal is to shift the balance for patients with injured spinal cords toward healing and functional recovery.

Focus areas

Dr. Chen's research is focused on systematical manipulation of the microenvironment in the injured spinal cord. His team uses engineering techniques to modify the local environment for axonal regeneration by altering the following:

  • Microarchitecture of biodegradable polymer scaffolds.
  • Cellular environment of cells supporting central nervous system axon growth, such as neural stem cells and Schwann cells.
  • Molecular environment, including:
    • Neurotrophic factors such as glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and the like.
    • Anti-scarring agents, such as rapamycin, incorporated into biodegradable polymers.

Significance to patient care

After completing a preclinical, large animal study for spinal cord repair, Dr. Chen plans for a clinical trial and eventual clinical application of his team's scaffold approach for patients with spinal cord injuries.


Academic Rank

  1. Assistant Professor of Medicine
  2. Assistant Professor of Neurology


  1. MBA University of Minnesota
  2. Research Associate Mayo Clinic Rochester
  3. Senior Research Fellowship Mayo Clinic Rochester
  4. PhD Kochi Medical School, Japan
  5. Research Associate University of Munich
  6. Master of Medicine Jiamusi Medical College
  7. Doctor of Medicine Mudanjiang Medical College

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