MAY 18, 2023, NEW YORK – Ludwig Cancer Research extends its congratulations to Yang Shi, a Member of the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, on his election to the UK 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.” The award emphasizes the contributions of such work to human health and welfare.
“Yang’s election as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences is a well-deserved recognition of his enormous contributions to our understanding of cancer epigenetics,” said Ludwig Oxford Director Xin Lu. “We are very happy to see him so honored.”
Shi has made landmark 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, Shi’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 longstanding models of genomic regulation. His lab went on to identify several other histone demethylases and described their roles in an array of biological processes. Shi’s findings are today being translated into new approaches to cancer therapy, including strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapy.
More recently, Shi’s group has identified several enzymes that methylate RNA, which represent new opportunities to investigate RNA modifications in the regulation of gene expression and cancer. His lab has also made considerable headway in its exploration of epigenetic regulators involved in an aggressive pediatric brain cancer—diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)—that might be targeted for cancer therapy.
“I am thrilled that our research on cancer epigenetics has proved to be of promise to cancer medicine,” said Shi. “I am also honored to find myself in the company of such distinguished scientists as those I join in the Fellowship of the Academy.”
In addition to his Ludwig post, Yang Shi is a Professor of Epigenetics in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.