Biography & Introduction
1982BS in Biochemistry. Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
1989Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Harvard University (Neuroscience). Advisor: H. Robert Horvitz.
1990-1993Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
1990-1996Assistant Geneticist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cardiovascular Research Center
1993-1996Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
1996-1997Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
1997-2000Associate Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
2003 to Present Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
The research of Professor Yuan focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell death. Regulation of cell death is critical for human health. Defects in the cell death mechanisms play critical roles in the etiology of major human diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Over the past two decades, the research in Yuan lab has provided major insights into the molecular mechanisms that control multiple forms of regulated cell death, including apoptosis and necroptosis. Their discoveries on apoptosis include the first demonstration of mammalian caspases as functional homologues in mediating apoptosis of mammalian cells and neurons (Gagliardini et al., 1994; Miura et al., 1993), the role of Bid as a critical signaltransducer between the death receptor and mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis (Li et al., 1998), the role of caspase-11 as a critical mediator of caspase-1 activation in response to LPS stimulation (Wang et al., 1998), the role of caspases in mediating acute neurological injury (Friedlander et al., 1997) and chronic neurodegeneration (Nakagawa et al., 2000; Sanchez et al., 1999). Using tools of chemical biology, Yuan lab discovered a novel regulated necrotic cell death pathway termed necroptosis (Degterev et al., 2008; Degterev et al., 2005). This discovery disapproved the traditional belief that necrosis is a form of passive cell death caused by overwhelming stress and demonstrated a RIP1 kinase-regulated necroptosis pathway that controls this regulated form of necrotic cell death (Hitomi et al., 2008). Yuan and colleagues continue to use a creative combination of cell biology, molecular biology and chemical biology approaches to investigate multiple cellular mechanisms and pathways, including apoptosis, necroptosis and autophagy, that regulate cell death.