Academic Rank:
Professor, UBC
St. Paul’s Hospital / HLI
Short Bio:

Dr. Yang Received his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he is Professor of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, a Member of the Center for Microbial Diseases and Host Defense Research, and a Principal Investigator of the Institute for Heart and Lung Health, UBC.

Academic background

  • University of Illinois Postdoc. Molecular Microbiology 1989
  • University of Illinois PhD Molecular Microbiology 1986
  • University of Illinois MS Plant Pathology 1982
  • Nankai University BSc Microbiology 1978

Research Interest

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary research
  • Molecular biology and pathogenesis of coxsackieviruses
  • Study of host gene responses to viral infection.

Dr Yang’s research interests focus on two major areas.

The first one is the molecular biology and pathogenesis of coxsackievirus, a positive single-stranded RNA virus.  In this area of study, Dr. Yang’s laboratory is working on the mapping of the viral gene structures responsible for viral translation initiation and cardiovirulence by mutational analysis.  They also identify host proteins specifically interacting with viral RNA and/or viral proteins by gel shift assays, yeast two hybrid system and proteomic technology.  Based on these studies, nucleic acid-based antiviral drugs including antisense oligonucleotide, ribozyme, siRNA and artificial microRNA targeting these key genes are being developed for the treatment of coxsackievirus-induced myocarditis.  To enhance the drug effectiveness, nanobiomedical approaches are employed to deliver these gene drugs specifically to certain cell populations.  These drugs are being evaluated in vitro and in animal models.

The second area of Dr. Yang’s interest is the study of host gene responses to viral infection.  The focus of this study is the transcriptional analysis and functional characterization of mouse genes encoding determinants of cardiac susceptibility to coxsackievirus infection.  Differential mRNA display and microarray analyses have identified known and unknown genes as well as microRNAs involved in myocarditis induction.  Tet-On/Off inducible cell lines and genetically modified mouse models are employed to study the roles of selected genes and microRNAs in signal transduction pathways leading to myocyte apoptosis or cardiac hypertrophy. These studies have great potential to discover new targets for gene therapy and molecular markers for diagnosis of viral myocarditis and other related infectious diseases.