Hong-Lei Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan

Dr. Chen is a Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Michigan State University. His research aims to identify risk factors that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases and aging, and to understand the natural history of debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. The ultimate goal is disease prevention and healthy aging.

In pursuit of these goals, Dr. Chen has chosen to focus on Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease and affects over one million older adults in the United States. As there is no cure to Parkinson’s disease, prevention is important. Dr Chen’s current research addresses key issues in Parkinson’s disease prevention. The first project aims to ascertain roles of environmental factors, genes, and gene-environment interactions in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease. The second project aims to identify high-risk populations and understand early disease etiology by researching prodromal symptoms that may precede Parkinson’s disease motor onset by years.

Dr. Chen is the Principal Investigator for Parkinson’s research in several large prospective cohorts, including the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, and the Health ABC Study. Further, Dr. Chen is developing relevant research in the Agricultural Health Study which has extensive data on pesticides and other agricultural exposures and the Sister Study where data were collected on a wide range of environmental exposures across the lifespan.

Dr. Chen earned his M.D. from TianJin Medical University in TianJin, China, and Master’s degree from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Beijing, China. In 2001, he earned his Ph.D. in Nutritional Epidemiology from Tufts University in Boston, MA and then worked as a Research Fellow and Instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to his current job, Dr. Chen worked at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and received his Tenured Senior Investigator appointment from NIH in 2013. He serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Epidemiology and has ~150 original publications

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