About Us – Karen Chen

Karen Chen

Karen Chen, PH.D., Director

Karen Chen is the Chief Executive Officer of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation whose mission is to accelerate the development of a treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of death in young children. Dr. Chen is responsible for overseeing the scientific and drug discovery programs, as well as managing the operations activities at the SMA Foundation. She has over 30 years of neuroscience drug development experience including holding director-level positions at Roche Palo Alto and Elan Pharmaceuticals working primarily on therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Dr. Chen holds an A.B. from Harvard University, obtained her Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego working with Dr. Fred Gage, followed by post-doctoral training was at Genentech investigating neurotrophic factors therapies for neurodegenerative conditions. She has over 50 scientific publications and several patents. Dr. Chen currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bluefield Project and the N-Unem Foundation, and is an advisor to several other non-profit organizations. Dr. Chen has served on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) National Advisory Council. She also is the Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder of Imago Pharmaceuticals.