ASCI / Young Physician-Scientist Awards, 2024

The Young Physician-Scientist Awards (YPSA) recognize physician-scientists who are early in their first faculty appointment and have made notable achievements in their research.

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Quen J. Cheng, MD, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine
(Affiliation at the time of recognition)

About the awardee

Quen J. Cheng, MD, PhD is an assistant professor at the Univesity of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in biochemistry. Upon graduation, he worked as a research assistant at Lawrence Berkeley laboratory for three years. During that time, his passion for science was kindled by a wonderful post-doctoral mentor, and he was fortunate to co-author a paper in Cell. Dr. Cheng went on to obtain his MD from UC San Diego, during which time his interest in research continued to grow. He was awarded an NIH training grant and the Thomas E. Carew prize for the research he conducted in medical school.

Dr. Cheng chose to do his post-graduate training at UCLA largely for the unparalleled support of their physician-scientist program. As part of his fellowship training, he obtained a PhD under the mentorship of Alexander Hoffmann, studying signaling, epigenomics, and gene regulation in macrophages. His PhD work led to three first or last-author papers including one in Science. He was given the Department of Medicine’s Research Innovator award twice and invited to be a speaker at an NIH/NIAID symposium in 2019. 

Upon finishing the PhD program in 2020, Dr. Cheng joined the faculty at UCLA. He continues to collaborate closely with Dr. Hoffmann while launching new research directions studying the mechanisms of “trained immunity” – how prior infections or cytokine exposures alter macrophage function. He was awarded an NIH K08 on this topic in 2022, as well as an R21 to study the effect of HIV on trained immunity. He is also a co-investigator on a newly awarded U19.