November 2023- BME Blaze: Panpan Chen

Nov 01 2023

In this monthly spotlight, get to know the alumni and students of Columbia's Department of Biomedical Engineering. Read what our BME folks are up to, from our labs' latest research, to our students' plans for the future, to our teams' innovations, start-ups and other career successes. We enjoyed catching up with Columbia BME Alumni, Panpan Chen as hse discussed her experience at Columbia BME. Read below to get to know Panpan!



  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology, University of Pennsylvania 2013
  • Doctor of Medicine, Albany Medical College 2018


Where are you from?

I’m from Athens, Pennsylvania


What drew you to the field of Biomedical Engineering?

As a surgery trainee, I was excited to work on projects that were on the cutting edge of technique development, and gain a new set of skills that could be applied to my surgical career. 


What is your current role?

After completing 2 years of a postdoctoral fellowship, I’m now back in my 4th year of surgical residency at Weill Cornell. I’ll soon be applying for vascular surgery fellowship at the completion of my residency training. 


Why did you choose Columbia BME?

I wanted to take part in the exciting work being done in Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic’s Laboratory of Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, specifically the lung team’s organ regeneration work. The group’s work was complimentary to my clinical skillsets and there were also so many talented students and postdocs to learn from. 


What were some of your favorite projects/memories from the program?

Because of the nature of our team’s work, we would spend multiple days together continuously in the operating room. While these experimental days were long and challenging, the time spent together with the team in solidarity are also some of my fondest memories. 


What was your proudest moment at Columbia?

Our most recent work on extracorporeal lung recovery using an injured swine model has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. We’re excited this work will finally be shared, so look out for it soon in print!


How has your experience with Columbia BME contributed towards your goals?

My time in the GVN lab working with the lung team under Gordana’s guidance has provided invaluable lessons on problem solving, teamwork, and scientific reasoning.


What are your thoughts on the strength of Columbia BME's alumni network and how has that influenced your career path?

While I’ve only been out of the lab for a short period, I’m glad to know that I can reach out to any member of the vast Columbia BME alumni network, both from the GVN lab and beyond. 


Any words of wisdom or tips for prospective BME students?

When failures happen, keep troubleshooting and things may work out differently than planned. And remember that your peers and mentors are always there for a fresh perspective.


What are you excited about?
The field of transplantation is rapidly evolving, and I’m excited to see what’s next on the horizon for both organ regeneration and xenotransplantation.



Though experimental days were long and challenging, the time spent together with the team in solidarity are also some of my fondest memories.

Panpan Chen
Former Postdoctoral Fellow

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