Jinhua Chen was trained as a historian of religions, with a focus on East Asian Buddhism. After receiving a doctoral degree in Religious Studies from McMaster University in 1997, he held a postdoctoral research fellowship at Kyoto University in Japan. In 2001, he joined the Department of Asian Studies at UBC. That same year he was also appointed by the federal government of Canada as the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in East Asian Buddhism (2001-2011). In addition to his work at UBC, he has held research and teaching positions at other leading research institutions, such as the University of Virginia, University of Tokyo, Stanford University, the University of Hamburg, Leiden University, the University of Ghent, and Duke University.
As recipient of research grants and fellowships from different sources including SSHRC, CRC, Killam Foundation, Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, Japan Society for the Promotion of Social Sciences, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and most recently, the National Humanities Center (USA), he has been engaged in research projects related to East Asian state-church relationships, monastic (hagio/)biographical literature, Buddhist sacred sites, relic veneration, Buddhism and technological innovation in medieval China, Buddhist translations, and manuscript culture. He wrote five monographs including Making and Remaking History [Tokyo, 1999]; Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship [Kyoto, 2002]; Philosopher, Practitioner, Politician [Leiden, 2007]; Legend and Legitimation [Brussels, 2009]; and Crossfire: Shingon-Tendai strife [Tokyo, 2010]), co-edited five books, and published nearly fifty book chapters and journal articles, with major academic journals.