Photo of a smiling Asian male faculty member, Dr. Xiaoke Chen, Associate Professor of Biology at Stanford University.
Seed Grant Committee Member, Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Xiaoke Chen's laboratory's goal is to understand how brain circuits mediate motivated behaviors and how maladaptive changes in these circuits cause mood disorders. To achieve this goal, the lab focuses on studying the neural circuits for pain and addiction, as both trigger highly motivated behaviors, whereas, transitioning from acute to chronic pain or from recreational to compulsive drug use involves maladaptive changes of the underlying neuronal circuitry.

Two primary research areas include:

  • Neuroscience of Emotional states: The ability to sense danger in one’s environment is essential for survival, and is likely an evolutionarily conserved behavior. Exaggerated responses to risk cues are maladaptive behaviors, indicating psychiatric disorder. We study circuits underlying these behaviors.
  • Tool Development: Studying the neuronal basis of behavior requires a top-class molecular toolkit. Exploring the undiscovered landscapes of the brain often necessitates the use of novel methods. Our group develops cutting-edge tools to reveal uncharted neural circuitry.