An Interview with Dr. Caifu Chen: A Passion for Science and Technology
Any discussion of microRNA (miRNA) at Applied Biosystems leads invariably to Dr. Caifu Chen. As Director of Assays and Array Research & Development, Dr. Chen heads the team of researchers responsible for developing the company’s TaqMan® gene expression and genotyping assays, including miRNA assays (e.g., see Simple, Rapid, Quantitative, and Sensitive Tools for miRNA Profiling).
Solving the Challenge of MicroRNA Quantification
“The development of TaqMan MicroRNA Assays enabled researchers to quantify all small RNA molecules, and investigate their gene expression and cell regulation, which previously was impossible,” Dr. Chen says. “TaqMan MicroRNA assays are more sensitive and specific than any existing commercial product. The throughput of TaqMan MicroRNA Arrays is superior. Our assays can detect up to a single nucleotide difference, and the process requires only three hours.”
A Passion for Science
He L, He X, Lim LP, de Stanchina E, Xuan Z, Liang Y, Xue W, Zender L, Magnus J, Ridzon D, Jackson AL, Linsley PS, Chen C, Lowe SW, Cleary MA, and Hannon GJ (2007) A microRNA component of the p53 tumour suppressor network. Nature 447:1130–1134.
Liang Y, Ridzon D, Wong L, and Chen C (2007) Characterization of microRNA expression profiles in normal human tissues. Genomics 8:166.
Chen C, Ridzon D, Lee C-T, Blake J, Sun Y, and Strauss WM (2007) Defining embryonic stem cell identity using differentiation-related microRNAs and their potential targets. Mamm Genome 18(5):316–327.
Gaur A, Jewell DA, Liang Y, Ridzon D, Moore JH, Chen C, Ambros VR, and Israel MA (2007) Characterization of microRNA expression levels and their biological correlates in human cancer cell lines. Cancer Res 67:2457–2468.
Strauss WM, Chen C, Lee C-T, and Ridzon D (2006) Nonrestrictive developmental regulation of microRNA gene expression. Mamm Genome 17:833–840.
Lao K, Xu NL, Yeung V, Chen C, Livak KJ, and Straus NA (2006) Multiplexing RT-PCR for the detection of multiple miRNA species in small samples. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 343:85–89.
MicroRNAs are a new class of transcription factors that probably control cell development either by fine-tuning or functioning as master switches that turn genes on and off during development. According to Dr. Chen, “While the human genome contains ~30,000 mRNA genes, scientists have discovered only ~500 miRNAs. Thus, each one probably has multiple functions and controls up to hundreds of genes. Being able to identify and quantify miRNAs at the critical stages of cell development would provide us with valuable insight into the process.”