Katherine Chen, MD

Katherine Chen, MD

Internal Medicine
Pursuing a PhD at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Health Policy & Management

Research Interests: Dr. Chen’s research explores equity issues at the intersection of urban planning and population health, with an emphasis on strategies for reducing health disparities and improving access to opportunities for well-being through policies that shape affordable housing, transportation, and neighborhood environments.

Career Interests: Dr. Chen aspires to help cities combat structural inequality by studying the ways in which thoughtful urban planning can advance health equity and promote individual and community well-being. She plans to combine her research career with clinical work as a primary care physician.

Biography: Dr. Katherine Chen (NCSP UCLA ’19-21) is an internal medicine physician aspiring to a career as a clinician-investigator focused on population health. 

Prior to NCSP, Dr. Chen earned her MD at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine before staying at UCLA to complete her residency training in the Department of Medicine. During residency, she won local teaching awards and regional poster presentation awards. She gained additional teaching and leadership skills as chief resident.

As an NCSP scholar, Dr. Chen’s interdisciplinary work led her to partnerships across departments and institutions. She developed her primary NCSP project, entitled, “Neighborhood Change & Health Gains? Effects of Gentrification on Hypertension and Diabetes Control,” in partnership with Dr. Teryl Nuckols (Cedars-Sinai), Dr. Claudia Nau (Kaiser Permanente), Andrea Jones (Healthy African American Families II), Dr. Kristen Choi (UCLA School of Nursing), Dr. Fred Zimmerman (UCLA Fielding School of Public Health), Dr. Ninez Ponce (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research), and Dr. Paul Ong (UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge). This study builds upon the growing literature on neighborhood health effects to explore whether gentrification influences health outcomes for patients with hypertension and diabetes living in low-income neighborhoods.

In April 2021, Dr. Chen was awarded the UCLA Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research in recognition of her achievements as an NCSP scholar. In addition to publishing in peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Chen has been invited to present her work to national, state, and local audiences in health care, public health, urban planning, and policy making, and her work has been featured in radio and print interviews.

Energized by her NCSP experiences, Dr. Chen elected to continue her research training in the pursuit of a PhD in Health Policy & Management through the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She will finish her PhD with funding from the UCLA NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship and the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) Program. With a dissertation committee formed from the mentors she developed as a NCSP fellow, Dr. Chen is preparing a thesis focused on characterizing the health consequences of residential displacement pressures related to economic and neighborhood contexts. Dr. Chen continues to practice patient care and supervise resident physicians at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Los Angeles.