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Ludwig Oxford’s Yang Shi elected to the U.K. Academy of Medical Sciences

Yang Shi

Yang Shi, a Member of the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, was elected in May to the U.K. Academy of Medical Sciences. Election as a Fellow is primarily reserved for scientists who, the Academy says, have made “exceptional contributions to the medical sciences, either in the form of original discovery or of sustained contributions to scholarship.” Yang was recognized for his outsize contributions to epigenetics, which explores the chemical modifications made to DNA and its histone protein packaging in the cell’s nucleus. These modifications help regulate the expression of the genome and are broadly disordered in cancer. Most notably, Yang’s discovery in 2004 of an enzyme, LSD1, that erases methyl marks from histones upended a 40-year-old dogma that considered histone methylation irreversible, challenging long-standing models of genomic regulation. His lab went on to identify several other histone demethylases and described their roles in an array of biological processes. Yang’s findings are today being translated into new approaches to cancer therapy, including strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapy.

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