Multiple Sclerosis Center
Research Associate Professor
College of Medicine
Department of Neurology
Biomedical Research Tower
460 W. 12th Ave., Room 0604
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Research Interests: Dr. Yang is interested in understanding molecule mechanisms that regulate CNS autoimmunity, with the goals of both identifying therapeutic targets and developing innovative therapies to treat patients. Using immunological and molecular approaches, she is focused on two questions:
- What are the major determinants that trigger inflammatory pathways in myelin-specific CD4 T cells in multiple sclerosis (MS)?
- How can we suppress the development and progression of CNS autoimmunity?
Current research projects:
- Determine the primary causes of T cell encephalitogenicity and characterize their therapeutic potential. Autoreactive myelin-specific CD4 T-cells mediate the formation of acute MS lesson in CNS, and she would like to understand the role of different key molecules in regulating T cell encephalitogenicity.
- She is trying to determine if IL-7Rα and its inhibitory receptors such as PD-1 and LAG-3 can regulate the cell-intrinsic of effector functions of myelin-specific CD4 T cells. These molecules help to regulate T effector responses and play an important role in the development of autoimmune diabetes, but it is currently unclear whether they regulate myelin-specific CD4 T cells in CNS autoimmunity.
- She is trying to determine the role of Blimp-1 in regulating myelin-specific CD4 T cells during disease progression in the EAE model of MS. Myelin-reactive CD4 T cells from MS patients display a memory phenotype. In EAE, the activation and differentiation behavior of CD4 T helper cells has been well-characterized, but very little is known about the molecule mechanisms that regulate the later stage of T cell maturation—the memory formation and reactivation of memory myelin-specific CD4 T cells. She is interested at identifying the key molecule critical for the formation and reactivation of these memory T cells, which may lead to novel therapeutic targets. Blimp-1 plays a critical role in regulating terminal differentiation and memory formation of B cells and CD8 T cells and is a leading candidate in these studies.
- New MS therapies that target the IL-6/STAT3 signaling pathway. Current treatments for MS are only partially effective, and new drugs are needed. Dr. Yang's previous work has demonstrated that IL-6 is critical for the development of highly encephalitogenic Th17 cells during disease progression in EAE, an animal model of MS. Therefore, she is developing small molecule compounds that target the IL-6/STAT3 signaling pathway and testing their efficacy in the EAE model of MS and with T cells from MS patients.
Research techniques: Flow cytometry, ELISA, cell culture, siRNA transfection, RNA purification, real time PCR, EAE induction in mice.
Active Funding: NIH R01: Small molecule in vivo probe development targeting the IL-6/STAT3 pathway for potential multiple sclerosis therapy. National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke, 05/1/2015-04/30/2018
MD: Medicine Tongji Medical University
MS: Molecular Biology Tongji Medical University
Research Fellow: Molecular Biology, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Research Fellow: Neuroimmunology, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Research Fellow" Neuroimmunology, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center