Dr Chun Chen

Research Associate


I was a medical trainee from China and joined the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University in 2015 to pursue a PhD with Dr Amy Reeve and Professor Sir Doug Turnbull. My main motivation stems from the patients I have encountered as a doctor and wanting to gain a further understanding into neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Parkinson’s. My PhD project focused on the response of human substantia nigra neurons to mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s and mitochondrial disease. I achieved my PhD in 2019 and has been working in the Centre since as a post-doctoral scientist to continue investigating associations between mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration.

Research Focus

Acylcarnitines as a potential biomarker for Parkinson’s disease (founded by a PDUK grant)

Mitochondrial dysfunction is important in the pathogenesis of both inherited and acquired Parkinson’s. Such changes are well documented in the cells of the substantia nigra, a key brain region that control movement and are highly likely to contribute to the cell death observed in patients with Parkinson’s. My project will improve the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and our understanding of its causes by understand changes in molecules that are important for energy production within mitochondria. A deeper understanding of why substantia nigra cells die in Parkinson’s will also support the search for new ways to treat this disease, provide potential drug targets to help modifying how brain cells produce energy.