U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. About FDA
  3. FDA Organization
  4. Office of the Commissioner
  5. Office of the Chief Scientist
  6. National Center for Toxicological Research
  7. Science & Research (NCTR)
  8. Huizhong Chen
  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

Huizhong Chen Ph.D.

Microbiologist — Division of Microbiology

Huizhong Chen
Huizhong Chen, Ph.D.

(870) 543-7121

Back to NCTR Principal Investigators page

 About  |  Publications  |  Lab Member


Dr. Huizhong Chen studied microbiology at Shandong University, China and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1982. He then attended the graduate school at the same institution and earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology in 1985 and 1988, respectively, for work on biodegradation of plant materials by microorganisms. Dr. Chen accepted an assistant professor position at the Institute of Microbiology at Shandong University in 1988. He further advanced his career as a visiting scientist in the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Graz, Austria from 1989 to 1991. From 1991 to 2002, he was initially a postdoctoral fellow and then an assistant research professor at the University of Georgia. From 1998 to 2002, he was also a senior scientist at Aureozyme, Inc. Prior to joining NCTR, his research focused on understanding enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose by microbial enzymes. Dr. Chen jointed the Division of Microbiology at NCTR as a research microbiologist in 2002. He received the Association for Science and Technology of Shandong Province (China) “Excellent Achievement Award in Natural Science” for converting cellulosic waste from paper mill to ethanol in 1989 and the Education Committee of Shandong Province (China) Science and Technology “Achievement Award” for studying xylanase system from fungi in1991. He is the recipient of seven U.S. and international patents. He received the FDA Commissioner’s “Special Citation Award” for furthering the mission of the FDA in protecting public health in 2010.He received the NCTR “Director’s Award” for exceptional leadership in developing and conducting a research program to evaluate the impact of the effect of cosmetic products on human skin microbiota in 2011, and the NCTR “Scientific Achievement Award for Excellence in Research” to solve critical challenges related to food contaminants, women’s health, tobacco, and nanotechnology in 2013.

Research Interests

Smokeless tobacco products (STPs) are known to contain more than 30 carcinogens, such as tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and radioactive metals, which can contribute to numerous health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, these compounds are bioavailable for oral microbiota and the interaction between STPs and microbiota may have an impact on human health. There are also strong links between the bacteria in the human mouth and overall health and well-being. Some types of mouth bacteria have been linked to serious diseases, such as oral cancer, heart attack, and pancreatic cancer. Dr. Chen and his collaborators are using a combination of current and traditional microbiological, toxicological, cell biological, and omic techniques to elucidate the effect of physiologic and product variables of STPs on toxicity and oral microbiota community composition and how this interaction impacts human health. He is investigating if the genotoxicity of smokeless tobacco is affected due to metabolism by oral bacteria and determine the effect of smokeless tobacco on maintaining the ecological balance of oral microbiota.

Interactions between the microbiota and human host have implications for nutrition, infection, metabolism, toxicity, and cancer. There are potential risks that externally applied cosmetics containing nanoscale materials could impact the microbial ecology of the skin, which may affect human health by breaking the skin permeability barrier which could encourage pathogen colonization and lead to an increased susceptibility to infection. Dr. Chen is collaborating with scientists from other FDA centers to examine the effects of nanoscale materials used in cosmetics and sunscreens on model microorganisms that are representative of the human skin microbiota to evaluate the potential risk of dermal exposure of nanomaterials to women’s health. He is using a combination of the most current microbiological, nanotechnological, cell biological, and omic techniques to elucidate the skin microbiota and host interactions in the presence of nanoscale materials used in cosmetics.

Many different molecules are coproduced from food, drug, cosmetics, and xenobiotics by the host and its commensal microbiota. The changes in co-metabolites might indicate the commensal microbiome functional status in the host and in turn this functional status will potentially affect health conditions of the host. Dr. Chen is collaborating with scientists from NCTR and other FDA centers 1) to develop a new project to use metabolomics, next general sequencing, and immunology tools for functional assessment of commensal microbiota, 2) to find patterns of host-commensal microbiota co-metabolites, and 3) to link antibiotic resistance and mechanisms of xenobiotic metabolism to functional commensal microbiome.

Professional Societies/National and International Groups

American Society for Microbiology
1992 – Present

European Federation of Biotechnology
1998 – Present

Selected Publications

Smokeless Tobacco Impacts Oral Microbiota in a Syrian Golden Hamster Cheek Pouch Carcinogenesis Model.
Jin J., Guo L., VonTungeln L., Vanlandingham M., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Anaerobe. 2018, pii: S1075-9964(18)30095-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Mutation Network-Based Understanding of Pleiotropic and Epistatic Mutational Behavior of Enterococcus Faecalis FMN-Dependent Azoreductase.
Sun J., Kweon O., Jin J., He G., Li X., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Biochem Biophys Rep. 2017, 12:240-244. eCollection 2017 Dec.

Evaluation of Metabolism of Azo Dyes and Their Effects on Staphylococcus aureus Metabolome.
Sun J. Jin J., Beger R., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2017, 44(10):1471-1481. Epub 2017 Aug 7.

Metabolomics Evaluation of the Impact of Smokeless Tobacco Exposure on the Oral Bacterium Capnocytophaga sputigena. 
Sun J., Jin J., Beger R., Cerniglia C., Yang M., and Chen H.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2016, 36:133-41.

Differential Gene Expression in Staphylococcus aureus Exposed to Orange II and Sudan III Azo Dyes.
Pan H., Xu J., Kweon O., Zou W., Feng J., He G., Cerniglia C. and Chen H.
J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015, 42(5):745-57.

A Comparison of Conventional Methods for the Quantification of Bacterial Cells After Exposure to Metal Oxide Nanoparticles.
Pan H., Zhang Y., He G., Katagori N., and Chen H.
BMC Microbiol. 2014, 14:222.

Detection of Benzalkonium Chloride Resistance in Community Environmental Isolates of Staphylococci.
He G., Landry M., Chen H., Thorpe C., Walsh D., Varela M., and Pan H.
J Med Microbiol. 2014, 63(Pt 5):735-41.

Identification of the Enzyme Responsible for N-Acetylation of Norfloxacin by Microbacterium sp. Strain 4N2-2.
Kim D., Feng J., Chen H., Kweon O., Gao Y., Yu L., Burrowes V., and Sutherland J.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013, 79(1):314-21.

Evaluation of Impact of Exposure of Sudan Azo Dyes and their Metabolites on Human Intestinal Bacteria.
Pan H., Feng J., He G., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Anaerobe. 2012, 18(4):445-53.

Probing the NADH- and Methyl Red-binding Site of a FMN-Dependent Azoreductase (AzoA) from Enterococcus faecalis.
Feng J., Kweon O., Xu H., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2012, 520(2):99-107.

Toxicological Significance of Azo Dye Metabolism by Human Intestinal Microbiota.
Feng J., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2012, 4:568-86.

EmmdR, a New Member of the MATE Family of Multidrug Transporters, Extrudes Quinolones from Enterobacter cloacae.
He G., Thorpe C., Walsh D., Crow R., Chen H., Kumar S., and Varela M.
Arch Microbiol. 2011, 193(10):759-65.

Effects of Orange II and Sudan III Azo Dyes and Their Metabolites on Staphylococcus aureus.
Pan H., Feng J., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2011, 38(10):1729-38.

SugE, a New Member of the SMR Family of Transporters, Contributes to Antimicrobial Resistance in Enterobacter cloacae.
He G., Zhang C., Crow R., Thorpe C., Chen H., Kumar S., Tsuchiya T., and Varela M.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011, 55(8):3954-7.

Evidence for Significantly Enhancing Reduction of Azo Dyes in Escherichia coli by Expressed Cytoplasmic Azoreductase (AzoA) of Enterococcus faecalis.
Feng J., Heinze T., Xu H., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Protein Pept Lett. 2010, 17(5):578-84.

Sudan Azo Dyes and Para Red Degradation by Prevalent Bacteria of the Human Gastrointestinal Tract.
Xu H., Heinze T., Paine D., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Anaerobe. 2010, 16(2):114-9.

Identification and Molecular Characterization of a Novel Flavin-Free NADPH Preferred Azoreductase Encoded by azoB in Pigmentiphaga Kullae K24.
Chen H., Feng J., Kweon O., Xu H., and Cerniglia C.
BMC Biochem. 2010, 11:13.

Metabolism of Azo Dyes by Human Skin Microbiota.
Stingley R., Zou W., Heinze T., Chen H., and Cerniglia C.
J Med Microbiol. 2010, 59(Pt 1):108-14.

Decolorization of Water and Oil-Soluble Azo Dyes by Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Fermentum.
Chen H., Xu H., Heinze T.M., and Cerniglia C.
J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009, 36(12):1459-66.

Azoreductase in Staphylococcus Aureus.
Zou W., Cerniglia C.E., and Chen H.
Curr Protoc Toxicol. 2009, Chapter 4:Unit4.28.

Functional Role of Trp-105 of Enterococcus Faecalis Azoreductase (AzoA) as Resolved by Structural and Mutational Analysis
Chen H., Xu H., Kweon O., Chen S., and Cerniglia C.
Microbiology. 2008, 154(Pt 9):2659-67.

Anaerobic Metabolism of 1-Amino-2-Naphthol-Based Azo Dyes (Sudan Dyes) by Human Intestinal Microflora.
Xu H., Heinze T., Chen S., Cerniglia C., and Chen H.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007, 73(23):7759-62.

Crystal Structure of an Aerobic FMN-Dependent Aoreductase (AzoA) from Enterococcus Faecalis.
Liu Z., Chen H., Shaw N., Hopper S., Chen L., Chen S., Cerniglia C., and Wang B.
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2007, 463(1):68-77.

Lab Member

Jinshan Jin, Ph.D.
Staff Fellow/Visiting Scientist
(870) 543-7121

Contact Information
Huizhong Chen
(870) 543-7121
Technology & Discipline
Back to Top