UHD Alumna Phebe Chen Drives Innovative Radiology
By Mark Kramer
In the early 1980s, Phebe Chen moved from the Philippines to Houston with her parents.
As she was adjusting to life in America, she was looking for a place to continue her college education. Chen discovered the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), which at that time was known as University of Houston-Downtown College.
Today, she is known as Dr. Phebe Chen, a well-known radiologist with West Houston Radiology who serves patients throughout Greater Houston.
“I was looking for a place where the classes were not so large since I was transitioning to our new home in Houston,” she said. “UHD provided just what I was looking for, and students were treated as individuals by professors who were very accommodating and welcomed questions—they truly wanted you to succeed.”
Not only did Chen succeed, she graduated summa cum laude in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in General Studies (now Interdisciplinary Studies) and went on to earn a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. She participated in postgraduate training in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Cincinnati and in radiology at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago followed byThe University of Texas-Health Science Center in Houston.
Chen admits that when she first entered UHD, she did so with the intent of going into dentistry. However, a group of friends suggested that medical school would provide her with more opportunity.
“As I looked at it more, there were so many more options by going into medicine, especially with my science degree,” she said. “Radiology captured my interest and that was the path that I decided to follow. And, I'm very glad I did.”
As a radiologist, Chen helps doctors get a closer look at what’s happening inside the body. If a primary care doctor wants to investigate a patient’s symptoms further, they may refer them to a radiologist to get an ultrasound or X-ray. Radiologists are trained to interpret MRIs and CT scans and other subspecialties. Some specialize in mammography and breast imaging. Radiologists can also determine if bones are broken or fractured after any type of accident.
“I enjoy the interaction with my patients and being able to help them,” Chen said. “Technology also continues to evolve in this field, which keeps things interesting and provides us with new avenues for more accurate and expedient disease diagnosis.”
Chen has also been recognized for her work in the community. She named UHD’s Alumna of the Year in 2003. She also voluntees at the Christian Community Service Center, the Foundation for Interfaith Research and Ministry, and The Seniors Place.
She also stays involved with UHD and shares some advice for current and future students.
“You may face obstacles, but don’t let them stand in the way of your goals,” Chen said.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.