Li-Shiun Chen, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.


I am a physician scientist with research interest in improving clinical care of smoking cessation. My research areas include smoking cessation treatments, pharmacogenetics/personalized medicine, cross-populational studies of smoking, gene-environmental interactions, and longitudinal studies. Our goal is to allow physicians and patients to use most effective treatments with least side effects, and better predict health risks. I have received NIH funding to conduct different research projects on smoking cessation and treatments. Since 2015, I have been a member in the NIDA Genetics Consortium, a group of leading scientists spearheading this nation’s efforts to understand genetic causes of substance dependence. In addition, I am a board-certified psychiatrist and see patients at BJC Behavioral Health Clinics. I am a co-director for the course of cross-cultural psychiatry for Washington University Psychiatry Residency Program, teaching faculty for the MPHS program, and I serve as a reviewer for a number of journals and an ad-hoc reviewer for NIH study sections.

Phone: 314-362-3932


My specific research areas include:
  1. Using genetic information to inform clinical diagnoses, treatments, and public health, our goal of precision medicine is that physicians and patients can use most effective treatments with least side effects, and better predict health risks
  2. Understanding disease natural history and public health impact by examining genetic and environmental predictors for assisted and unassisted smoking cessation
  3. Translation of research into practice for smoking cessation treatments in the general population and high risk populations (e.g., patients with mental illness or cancer)
Recent findings:

Low-burden strategies can be used to promote smoking cessation treatment among patients in healthcare settings.

Chen LS, Baker TB, Brownson, RC, Carney RM, Jorenby D, Hartz S, Smock N, Johnson M, Ziedonis D, Bierut LJ. (2016). Smoking cessation and electronic cigarettes in community mental health centers: Patients and provider perspectives. Community Mental Health Journal. PMID: 27900650

Chen LS, Baker TB, Korpecki JM, Johnson KE, Hook JP, Brownson, RC, Bierut LJ. (2018). Low-burden strategies to promote smoking cessation treatment in patients with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services. In Press.

Genetic markers can predict who quit smoking and who respond to cessation medications such as nicotine patches in treatment studies.

Chen, LS., Baker, TB., Piper, ME., Breslau, N., Cannon, DS., Doheny, KF., . . . Bierut, LJ. (2012). Interplay of genetic risk factors (CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4) and cessation treatments in smoking cessation success. Am J Psychiatry, 169(7), 735-742. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11101545. PMID: 22648373

Chen, LS., Bloom, AJ., Baker, TB., Smith, SS., Piper, ME., Martinez, M., . . . Bierut, L. (2014). Pharmacotherapy effects on smoking cessation vary with nicotine metabolism gene (CYP2A6). Addiction, 109(1), 128-137. doi: 10.1111/add.12353. PMID: 24033696

Chen, LS., Baker, TB., Jorenby, D., Piper, M., Saccone, N., Johnson, E., . . . Bierut, LJ. (2015). Genetic variation (CHRNA5), medication (combination nicotine replacement therapy vs. varenicline), and smoking cessation. Drug Alcohol Depend. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.06.022. PMID: 26142345

Genetic markers can be used to predict delayed age of smoking cessation and earlier diagnosis of lung cancer among smokers. 

Chen, LS., Hung, RJ., Baker, TB., Horton, A., Culverhouse, R., Saccone, N., . . . Bierut, LJ. (2015). CHRNA5 risk variant predicts delayed smoking cessation and earlier lung cancer diagnosis–a meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst, 107(5). doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv100. PMID: 25873736

We have identified how genetic and environmental risks jointly influence nicotine dependence and smoking cessation, which is critical in designing efficient and precise treatment.

Chen LS, Baker TB, Piper ME, Smith SS, Gu C, Grucza RA, Smith GD, Munafo M, Bierut LJ. Interplay of genetic risk (CHRNA5) and environmental risk (partner smoking) on cigarette smoking reduction. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014; 143:36-43. PMCID: PMC4161618


Our active projects include:

Genetically Informed Smoking Cessation Trial
The goal of this genetically informed smoking cessation treatment study is to determine how genetic markers can be used to optimize smoking cessation treatments.
If interested, please call 314-747-7849 or

EHR-enabled Smoking Cessation Treatment in Patients with Cancer
This project is to implement a smoking cessation treatment program for  cancer patients by leveraging electronic health record (EHR) modifications.

Genetic and Environmental Risks for Smoking Characteristics and Cessation
This project is a longitudinal follow up study of smoking cessation in the general population to determine genetic and environmental predictors for smoking cessation.

Cross-population Collaborative Meta-Analysis of Smoking Behaviors and Lung Cancer
This project is an international collaborative study to examine the genetic predictor of smoking behaviors and lung cancer across diverse ancestry groups, including European, Asian, and African American subjects.



R01 DA038076
Genetically Informed Smoking Cessation Trial
My Role: Principal Investigator

P30 CA091842-16S2
Cancer Center Support Grant (Cancer Moonshot Tobacco Cessation Supplement)
My Role: Supplement PI

U19 CA203654
Integrative Analysis of Lung Cancer Etiology and Risk
My Role: Co-investigator

R01 DA036583
Nicotine Dependence to Smoking Cessation: Sequencing Common and Rare Variants
My Role: Co-investigator

R21 DA038241
Integrating Genetics, Adverse Events, and Adherence to Improve Smoking Cessation
My Role: Co-investigator

K08 DA030398
Genetic and Environmental Risks for Smoking Characteristics and Cessation
My Role : Principal Investigator