Liwei Chen

Dr. Liwei Chen is a Professor (tenured) in the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.  Dr. Chen’s research mainly research area is cardiometabolic disease epidemiology, including the etiology and prevention of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In particular, her research focuses on 1) lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity; 2) the life-course perspective of cardiometabolic diseases for women; 3) maternal and child health; and 4) health disparities in cardiometabolic diseases. Dr. Chen has expertise in designing and implementing large-scale epidemiological research, including observational and interventional studies, as well as systematic review & meta-analysis. More recently, Dr. Chen has expanded her research to two new areas: 1) adopting innovative platforms, e.g. mobile devices, social media, and telehealth for personalized interventions, and 2) applying metabolomics (a relatively new ‘omics’ technology to systematically analyze the global molecular signatures in a given biological system) approach to identify biomarkers of lifestyles and cardiometabolic outcomes. Dr. Chen is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including American Heart Association (AHA) Scott Grundy Fellowship Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research. Dr. Chen has served as PI and Co-I for several federal, state, and university funded research and training grants, totaling about $15 million in research funding.  She is also working with her collaborators on several national and international studies including the Fetal Growth Study (FGS), Diabetes & Women’s Health Study (DWH), Nurse Health Study (NHS), the Midlife in the United States Study (MIDUS), the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and the Hispanic Community Health Study /Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). Dr. Chen is the grant reviewer for NIH (USA), National Medical Research Council (Singapore), Diabetes UK (United Kingdom),UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and Dutch Research Council.


  • Post-Doctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship from the NICHD/NIH, Rockville, MD
  • PhD, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
  • MHS, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
  • MS, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • MD, Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xi’an, China

Selected Publications

  • Chen L, Dai J, Fei Z, Liu XY, Zhu Y, Rahman ML, Ruijin Lu R, Mitro S, Yang J, Hinkle SN, Chen Z, Song YQ, Zhang C. Metabolic biomarkers of the Mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals. Clin Nutr. 2023 Mar;42(3):384-393. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2023.01.011. Epub 2023 Jan 14. PMID: 36753781; PMCID: PMC10029322
  • Chehab RF, Zheng S, Ngo AL, Chen L, Barupal DK, Fiehn O, Ferrara A, Zhu Y. In-utero Metabolomic Signatures of Refined Grains Intake and Risk of Gestational Diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Apr;117(4):731-740. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.02.009. Epub 2023 Feb 11. PMID: 36781127. ; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC10273195
  • Liu X*, Zhu Y, Janzen C, Chen L. Increased incidence in gestational diabetes mellitus by race and ethnicity during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a large medical center in the United States. Epidemol Int J 2023, 7(1): 000254.
  • Xia T*, Gee GC, Li J, Liu X, Dai J, Shi L, Zhang D, Chen Z, Han X, Li Y, Li H, Wen M, Su D, Chen L†. Racial discrimination and changes of exercise and screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Epidemiol Health. 2023;45:e2023013. doi: 10.4178/epih.e2023013. Epub 2023 Jan 28. PubMed PMID: 36731474; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC10266926.   
  • Crockett A, Chen L, Emily Heberlein, Jessica Britt, Covington-Kolb S, Sun X, Witrick B, Zhang L, Borders A, Keenan-Devlin L, Britney S, Heo M. Group versus traditional prenatal care for improving racial equity in preterm birth and low birthweight: the Cradle randomized clinical trial study. AJOG. 2022
  • Xia T*, Chen L, Fei Z, Liu X, Dai J, Hinkle SN, Zhu Y, Wu J, Weir NL, Tsai M, Zhang C. A longitudinal study on associations of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity with plasma monounsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy. Front Nutr. 2022 Oct 24;9:983418. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.983418. PMID: 36352907; PMCID: PMC9637 
  • Chen L†. Metabolomic markers in early pregnancy for gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes. 2022 Aug 1;71(8):1620-1622. PMID: 35881833
  • Xia T*, Snehal Lopes*, Chen L†, Rott R, Zinzow H, Jones K, Zhang L, Shi L, Jindal M. A feasibility study on low-dose mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention among prediabetes and diabetes patients. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2022. May; 65:102810. PMID: 35093511
  • Matthews TA, Chen L, Chen Z, Han X, Shi L, Li Y, Wen M, Zhang D, Li H, Su D, Li J. Gender difference in working from home and psychological distress - a national survey of U.S. employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Industrial Health. 2022 Aug 1;60(4):334-344. PMID: 35569955
  • Matthews TA, Chen L, Chen Z, Han X, Shi L, Li Y, Wen M, Zhang D, Li H, Su D, Li J. Negative Employment Changes During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Psychological Distress: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey in the U.S. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2021 Nov 1;63(11):931-937. PMID: 34267107; PMCID: PMC8562921
  • Francis E*, Witrick B, Zhang L, Chen L†.  Adherence to healthy behaviors in American pregnant women:  NHANES 2007-2014. Journal of Public Health. 2021 Apr 12;43(1):131-138. PMID: 31832663.
  • Chen L†, Li J, Xia T, Timothy AM, Tseng S, Shi L, Zhang D, Chen Z, Xuesong H, Li Y, Li H, Wen W, Su D. Changes of Exercise, Screen Time, Fast Food Consumption, Alcohol and Cigarette Smoking During the COVID-19 Pandemic among US Adults. Nutrients. 2021, 13(10). PMID: 34684357; PMCID: PMC8539854
  • Chen L, Zhu Y, Fei Z, Xia T, Hinkle S, Liu X, Wu Jing, Weir NL, Tsai MY, Zhang C. Plasma Phospholipid n-3/n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Desaturase Activities in Relation to Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity through Pregnancy-A Longitudinal Study within the NICHD Fetal Growth Studies. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 19:12(11):3544. PMID: 33227993
  • Chen L†, Shi L, Zhang D, Chao MS. Influence of Acculturation on Risk for Gestational Diabetes Among Asian Women. Journal of Prevention of Chronic Diseases. 2019 Dec 5; 16. PMID: 31808419
  • Francis E, *Johnstone L, Covington-Kolb S, Witrick B, Griffin S, Sun X, Crockett A, Chen L†. Group prenatal care attendance and women’s characteristics associated with low attendance: results from Centering and Racial Disparities (CRADLE Study). Matern Child Health J. 2019 Jun 24. doi: 10.1007/s10995-019-02784-7. PMID: 31236826
  • Francis E, Hinkle S, Rawal S, Donnelly S, Hediger M, Liu Danping, Chen L, Zhang C. Longitudinal Associations of Maternal Vitamin D Concentrations During Pregnancy and Neonate Anthropometric Measures. Nutrients. 2018 Nov; 10(11): 1631. (IF: 4.196). PMID: 30400155; PMCID: PMC6265933
  • Chen Q, Francis E, Hu G, Chen L†. Metabolomics profiling in women with gestational diabetes mellitus and their offspring: review of metabolomics studies. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications. 2018 May;32(5):512-523 
  • Zhang L, Scott J, Shi L, Truong K, Hu Q, Ewing A, Chen L†. Changes in utilization and peri-operative outcomes of bariatric surgery in large US hospital database, 2011-2014. Plus ONE. 2017 Oct 20;12(10)
  • Sheng B, Truong K, Spitler H, Zhang L, Tong X, Chen L†. The long-term effects of bariatric surgery on type 2 diabetes remission, micro- and macrovascular complications, and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Surgery. 2017 Oct;27(10): 2724-2732
  • Booth J, LiJ, Zhang L, Chen L, Muntner P, Egan B. Trends in prehypertension and hypertension risk factors in us adults: 1999-2012, Hypertension. 2017 Aug;70(2):275-284
  • Chen L, Crocket A, Covington-Kolb S, Heberlein E. Zhang L, Sun X. Reducing Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Randomized Controlled Trial on CenteringPregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Apr 13;17(1):118.
  • Chen L†, Zhang Z, Chen W, Whelton PK, Appel LJ. Lower sodium intake and risk of headaches: results from the trial of non-pharmacologic interventions in the elderly. Am J of Public Health. 2016. Apr 106(7):1270-5. PMID: 27077348; PMCID: PMC4902761.
  • Chen L†, Mayo R, Chatry A, Hu G. Gestational diabetes mellitus: Its epidemiology and implication beyond pregnancy. Current Epidemiology Reports, Springer, 2016
  • Chen L†, Li S, Zhu Y, He C, Buck Louis G, Yeung E, Hu FB, Zhang C. Age at menarche and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study among 27,482 women. Diabetes Care. 2016 Mar;39(3):469-71
  • Chen L, Simonsen N, Liu L. Racial difference of pediatric hypertension in relation to birth weight and obesity in the United States. PLoS ONE. 2015. 10(7):e0132606  
  • Chen L, Hu FB, Yeung E, Toaibs DK, Willett WC, Zhang C. Prepregnancy consumption of fruits and fruit juices and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care. 2012 May;35(5):1079-82
  • Chen L, Hu FB, Yeung E, Willett C, Zhang C. A prospective study of pre-gravid sugar-sweetened beverages consumption and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2009. 32(12):2236-41  
  • Chen L†, Caballero B, Mitchell D, Loria C, Lin PH, Champagne CM, Elmer PJ, Ard JD, Batch BC, Appel LJ. Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with reduced blood pressure: a prospective study among U.S. adults. Circulation. 2010 Jun. 8;121 (22):2398-2406. PMID: 20497980; PMC2892032.
  • Chen L, Appel LJ, Loria C, Lin PH, Champagne CM, Elmer PJ, Ard JD, Mitchell D, Batch BC, Svetkey LP, Caballero B. Reduction in consumptions of liquid calories and sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with weight loss: the PREMIER trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009 May. 89(5):1299-306. PMID: 19339405; PMC2676995.


Areas of Interest

Chronic diseases (e.g. obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke) prevention, maternal and child health, women's health, lifecourse perspective of chronic diseases, clinical trial, systematic review and meta-analysis, real world data and evidence (RWE), metabolomics, personalized lifestyle interventions.