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Daniel Chinnapen

Dan Chinnapen PhD
Hospital Title:
Staff Scientist
Academic Title:
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
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Dr. Chinnapen’s research focuses on addressing two major problems faced in biotechnological drug development: 1) lack of transport for biologics across the blood-brain-barrier, and 2) lack of oral bioavailability of large therapeutic peptides. His lab is currently developing technology to improve existing approaches to treat rare genetic lysosomal disorders, such as Tay-Sachs and Fabry diseases, and to deliver biologics across cellular barriers (endothelial and epithelial) as a platform approach to treat Type II Diabetes orally. Treatment of lysosomal diseases not only requires the delivery to affected vital organs, such as the heart, kidney and vascular endothelium, but also the crossing of the highly-selective blood-brain-barrier, which is virtually impenetrable for large biomolecules such as proteins. The lab also engages industry partners to help accelerate technology toward proof of concept and employing a broad range of disciplines, from organic chemistry to in vivo biology, Another main goal of the lab is to better understand the cellular mechanisms that underpin transcellular transport. Getting a better understanding in this process will aid in the development of next-in-class biotherapeutics that can cross highly-selective cellular barriers.


About the Researcher

Dr. Chinnapen received his PhD in nucleic acid biochemistry from Simon Fraser University in Canada, and postdoctoral training at MIT in the lab of Alice Ting and then Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the lab of Wayne Lencer, MD. Dr. Chinnapen also served as senior scientist in two biotechnology companies in Cambridge MA, developing biologics that enter the cell and signal to treat various diseases.

Key Publications

Chinnapen DJ, Hsieh WT, te Welscher YM, Saslowsky DE, Kaoutzani L, Brandsma E, D'Auria L, Park H, Wagner JS, Drake KR, Kang M, Benjamin T, Ullman MD, Costello CE, Kenworthy AK, Baumgart T, Massol RH, Lencer WI. (2012) “Lipid Sorting by Ceramide Structure from Plasma Membrane to ER for the Cholera Toxin Receptor GM1.” Developmental Cell. 23:3, 573-586. Featured in Article “GM1 Gets Sorted” Nat. Chem. Biol (2012) 8, 873. 

te Welscher YM, Chinnapen DJ, Kaoutzani L, Mrsny RJ, Lencer WI. (2014) “Unsaturated glycoceramides as molecular carriers for mucosal drug delivery of GLP-1 analogues.” J. Contr. Release. 175: 72-8. 

D. J.-F. Chinnapen, H. Chinnapen, D. Saslowsky and W.I. Lencer. (2007) “Rafting with Cholera Toxin: Endocytosis and Trafficking from the Plasma Membrane to ER.” (Review) FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 266: 129-137 

D.J.-F. Chinnapen and D. Sen. (2004) “A Deoxyribozyme that Harnesses Light to Repair Thymine Dimers in DNA.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 101: 65-69. Featured in Article “Light-Triggered DNA Self Repair” Chem. & Eng. News (2004) 82:1, 21.


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles
  1. Day CA, Baetz NW, Copeland CA, Kraft LJ, Han B, Tiwari A, Drake KR, De Luca H, Chinnapen DJ, Davidson MW, Holmes RK, Jobling MG, Schroer TA, Lencer WI, Kenworthy AK. Microtubule motors power plasma membrane tubulation in clathrin-independent endocytosis. Traffic. 2015 Jun; 16(6):572-90.
  2. te Welscher YM, Chinnapen DJ, Kaoutzani L, Mrsny RJ, Lencer WI. Unsaturated glycoceramides as molecular carriers for mucosal drug delivery of GLP-1. J Control Release. 2014 Feb 10; 175:72-8.
  3. Saslowsky DE, te Welscher YM, Chinnapen DJ, Wagner JS, Wan J, Kern E, Lencer WI. Ganglioside GM1-mediated transcytosis of cholera toxin bypasses the retrograde pathway and depends on the structure of the ceramide domain. J Biol Chem. 2013 Sep 6; 288(36):25804-9.
  4. Chinnapen DJ, Hsieh WT, te Welscher YM, Saslowsky DE, Kaoutzani L, Brandsma E, D'Auria L, Park H, Wagner JS, Drake KR, Kang M, Benjamin T, Ullman MD, Costello CE, Kenworthy AK, Baumgart T, Massol RH, Lencer WI. Lipid sorting by ceramide structure from plasma membrane to ER for the cholera toxin receptor ganglioside GM1. Dev Cell. 2012 Sep 11; 23(3):573-86.
  5. Cho JA, Chinnapen DJ, Aamar E, te Welscher YM, Lencer WI, Massol R. Insights on the trafficking and retro-translocation of glycosphingolipid-binding bacterial toxins. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2012; 2:51.
  6. Janz JM, Ren Y, Looby R, Kazmi MA, Sachdev P, Grunbeck A, Haggis L, Chinnapen D, Lin AY, Seibert C, McMurry T, Carlson KE, Muir TW, Hunt S, Sakmar TP. Direct interaction between an allosteric agonist pepducin and the chemokine receptor CXCR4. J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Oct 12; 133(40):15878-81.
  7. Fortin JP, Chinnapen D, Beinborn M, Lencer W, Kopin AS. Discovery of dual-action membrane-anchored modulators of incretin receptors. PLoS One. 2011; 6(9):e24693.
  8. Uchida Y, Hasegawa J, Chinnapen D, Inoue T, Okazaki S, Kato R, Wakatsuki S, Misaki R, Koike M, Uchiyama Y, Iemura S, Natsume T, Kuwahara R, Nakagawa T, Nishikawa K, Mukai K, Miyoshi E, Taniguchi N, Sheff D, Lencer WI, Taguchi T, Arai H. Intracellular phosphatidylserine is essential for retrograde membrane traffic through endosomes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20; 108(38):15846-51.
  9. Saslowsky DE, Cho JA, Chinnapen H, Massol RH, Chinnapen DJ, Wagner JS, De Luca HE, Kam W, Paw BH, Lencer WI. Intoxication of zebrafish and mammalian cells by cholera toxin depends on the flotillin/reggie proteins but not Derlin-1 or -2. J Clin Invest. 2010 Dec; 120(12):4399-4409.
  10. Wernick NL, Chinnapen DJ, Cho JA, Lencer WI. Cholera toxin: an intracellular journey into the cytosol by way of the endoplasmic reticulum. Toxins (Basel). 2010 Mar; 2(3):310-25.
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  12. N.B. Wernick, D. J.-F. Chinnapen, J.A. Cho and W.I. Lencer. Toxins. Cholera Toxin: An Intracellular Journey into the Cytosol by Way of the Endoplasmic Reticulum. 2010; 3:310-325.
  13. Thorne RE, Chinnapen DJ, Sekhon GS, Sen D. A deoxyribozyme, Sero1C, uses light and serotonin to repair diverse pyrimidine dimers in DNA. J Mol Biol. 2009 Apr 24; 388(1):21-9.
  14. Chinnapen DJ, Chinnapen H, Saslowsky D, Lencer WI. Rafting with cholera toxin: endocytosis and trafficking from plasma membrane to ER. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Jan; 266(2):129-37.
  15. Chinnapen DJ, Sen D. Towards elucidation of the mechanism of UV1C, a deoxyribozyme with photolyase activity. J Mol Biol. 2007 Feb 2; 365(5):1326-36.
  16. Howarth M, Chinnapen DJ, Gerrow K, Dorrestein PC, Grandy MR, Kelleher NL, El-Husseini A, Ting AY. A monovalent streptavidin with a single femtomolar biotin binding site. Nat Methods. 2006 Apr; 3(4):267-73.
  17. H.-W. Lee, D.J.-F. Chinnapen and D. Sen. Pure and Applied Chemistry. Structure-Function Investigation of a Deoxyribozyme with Dual Chelatase and Peroxidase Activities. 2004; 76:1537-1545.
  18. Chinnapen DJ, Sen D. A deoxyribozyme that harnesses light to repair thymine dimers in DNA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jan 6; 101(1):65-9.
  19. Sen D, Chinnapen DJ. Deoxyribozymes that catalyze photochemistry: cofactor-dependent and -independent photorepair of thymine dimers. Nucleic Acids Res Suppl. 2003; (3):217-8.
  20. Chinnapen DJ, Sen D. Hemin-stimulated docking of cytochrome c to a hemin-DNA aptamer complex. Biochemistry. 2002 Apr 23; 41(16):5202-12.
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