Nan Yang, PhD
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Neuroscience
Research Topics:Alzheimer's Disease, Autism, Cellular Differentiation, Chromatin, Developmental Neurobiology, Gene Regulation, Gene editing, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Reprogramming, Schizophrenia, Stem Cells, Synapses, Synaptogenesis
Dr. Yang is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, a member at Black Family Stem Cell Institute, Friedman Brain Insititute and Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer's Disease. Her laboratory is focused on the understanding of the molecular programs that control the development of distinct cell types in the brain and the developing of approaches using human stem cells combined of gene editing to advance our knowledge of the fundamental processes underlying human neural development in normal and pathological conditions. They use in vitro 2D and 3D models to decipher the phenotypic consequences of disease-causing mutations in human neurons and other neural lineages as well as the development of novel therapeutic gene targeting and cell transplantation-based strategies for numerous neuropsychiatric disorders.
Multi-Disciplinary Training AreasDevelopment, Regeneration, and Stem Cells [DRS], Neuroscience [NEU]
Exchange student, University of California, San Francisco
PhD, Fundan University
Postdoctoral, Stanford University
NARSAD Young Investigator
Chromatin modifications and human psychiatric diseases
Advances in human genetics and next-generation sequencing have permitted the identification of a stunning number of genetic variants that are linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), providing a platform for unraveling the causal chain of events that result in the disorder. However, the availability of data is not synonymous with the presence of meaning. Indeed, the challenge researchers are facing now is the derivation of biological meaning post-GWAS. Particularly, an increasing number of risk-associated variants are found in non-coding sequences. We use stem cell modeling system, genome engineering, CRISPR-mediated epigenetic editing, and state-of-the-art single-cell sequencing technology to determine the molecular impact of such non-coding sequence alterations.
Modeling human brain development and disease
One of the most intriguing applications of human pluripotent stem cells is the possibility to recapitulate and study key aspects of human brain development. Our group team up with the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai to investigate the changes caused by autism associated rare mutations at cellular and molecular levels in multiple brain regions using 3D brain organoid models and in different neuronal types with particular interests on epigenetic modifications and synaptic functions using induced neurons.
Cell fate in the nervous system
We have pioneered the transcription factor mediated (trans-)differentiation of non-neural human cells, including fibroblasts and pluripotent stem cells, into multiple neural lineages including neurons and glial cells. Our goal is to investigate the fundamental events underlying the progression of cell fate specification and ultimately to recreate the cell types of the central nervous system from human pluripotent stem cells for research and potential use in clinical therapies.