Yang Shi was appointed Member of Ludwig Oxford in July. Yang is a leader in the field of epigenetics, which explores how chemical modifications made to chromatin—DNA and its histone protein packaging—control the expression of the genome. Aberrations in those processes contribute to a wide variety of cancers. In 2004, Yang and his colleagues identified and characterized an enzyme, LSD1, that erases methyl marks from histones. Their discovery upended a 40-year-old dogma that considered such modifications irreversible, altering longstanding models of genomic regulation. Yang’s laboratory has since identified many other histone demethylating enzymes and LSD1 inhibitors are now in clinical trials for cancer therapy. More recently, his group has discovered enzymes that methylate RNA and possibly influence the translation of gene transcripts into proteins. Prior to joining Ludwig, Yang was professor of cell biology and C. H. Waddington professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his PhD from New York University and completed his postdoctoral training at Princeton University. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. To learn more about Yang, check out our Q&A with him.
This article appeared in the December 2020 issue of Ludwig Link. Click here to download a PDF (1 MB).