Novel Scalable Molecular Genetic Tools to Study the Mammalian Brain and Brain Disorders

January 23, 2020, 4:00pm – 6:00pm | David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

X. William Yang, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences,
Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, Semel Institute for
Neuroscience & Human Behavior

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“Novel Scalable Molecular Genetic Tools to Study the Mammalian Brain and Brain Disorders”

4-5PM: Lecture & Audience Q&A
5-6PM: Networking & Cocktail Reception

A major challenge in studying the mammalian brain is its enormous complexity in terms of cell types and numbers, molecular interactions within and between cells, and their dynamic changes through development, aging, and experience. To begin understanding these processes, it is crucial to study the molecular and cellular biology of the intact brain at a scalable and reproducible manner. Here, Dr. Yang will first present an integrative mouse genetics and systems biology approach to evaluate a large number of candidate molecular targets for Huntington’s disease in vivo. He will also present a novel and generalizable genetic method for sparse labeling of the morphology of genetically-defined neurons in the brain. They envision these approaches may have the potential to enhance the resolution, scale, and reproducibility in studying the mammalian brain and brain disorders.

Acknowledgment: This research is supported by NIH BRAIN Initiative and CHDI Foundation, Inc.

Dr. X. William Yang completed his undergraduate education at Yale University, obtaining combined B.S./M.S. degrees from the Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry in 1991. He then completed M.D./Ph.D. training at Rockefeller University (Ph.D., 1998) and Weill Medical College of Cornell University (M.D., 2000). He co-invented (with Nathaniel Heintz) a powerful mouse genetic technology to engineer Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes (BACs) and to generate BAC transgenic mice. Dr. Yang’s own laboratory, established at UCLA in 2002, has made significant contributions to the development of novel BAC transgenic mouse models for human neurodegenerative disorders including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and the use of such models to dissect disease mechanisms and identify therapeutic targets. The Yang lab has also applied novel genetic and systems biology approaches to study neuronal cell-type-specific gene expression, to decipher in vivo protein interaction and transcriptome networks for HD, and to study brain-wide morphology of genetically-defined neurons. Finally, the Yang lab studies the role of basal ganglia circuitry in the generation of normal and pathological behaviors. Dr. Yang is a recipient of BRAIN Initiative Awards from the National Institutes of Health, Brain Disorder Award from the McKnight Foundation, the HDF’s Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science in 2014, and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

To learn more about Dr. Yang, visit his lab page.

Q&A Moderator:

Hemali Phatnani, PhD
Director, Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease
New York Genome Center