Dr. Yang received a Ph.D. in physiology from the Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University in 1999 and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003. She joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) in 2000 as a postdoctoral fellow, became a tenure-track investigator in 2006, and was appointed senior investigator upon receiving NIH scientific tenure in 2014. She received NCI Director’s Intramural Innovation Awards in 2007 and 2009. Dr. Yang serves on the editorial board for Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and is an adjunct associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include the genetics of familial cutaneous malignant melanoma/dysplastic nevi syndrome and chordoma, and etiologic heterogeneity of breast cancer.
In her research on familial cancers—including melanoma and dysplastic nevi syndrome, and chordoma—Dr. Yang employs cutting-edge genomic technologies and novel statistical approaches to evaluate copy number and exome sequencing variants, as well as mRNA expression, miRNA expression, DNA methylation, chromatin modification, and telomere length in disease susceptibility. Most recently, Dr. Yang and her colleagues identified a rare inherited mutation in a gene involved in maintaining telomere stability in melanoma families, further supporting a role for abnormal telomeres in the development of melanoma.
In her investigation of etiologic heterogeneity of breast cancer, Dr. Yang characterizes the molecular signature of tumors using tissue microarray and integrated tumor profiling analyses to identify risk factors for specific cancer subtypes. She is leading breast cancer studies in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia to identify distinct molecular alterations in tumors and adjacent normal tissues among Asian women, and to examine the associations of these molecular changes with genetic and environmental risk factors, breast tissue composition and density, and breast cancer subtypes.
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