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Yu WANG, Ph. D.

Drug Discovery; Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.

Staff: Dr. Yu Wang, Dr. Chen Zhao
Postdoc: Dr. Yu Zhang, Dr. Jingfang Zhang
Students: Fujia Wu, Shanshan Xu, Jia Lu, Yifan Zhang, Shuai Peng, Li Chen, Ran Wang

• WANG Group website


  Our laboratory is interested in interdisciplinary research on stem cell biology and pharmacological modulation. We mainly work on two areas:

  1. “drug mediated regenerative medicine”

  Previous studies have reported in vivo transdifferentiation to certain cells in mouse that contribute to tissue repair, which brought exciting promise towards tissue regeneration through in situ transdifferentiation in vivo. Pharmacological modulation, on the contrary to exogenous genetic methods, is safer, reversible, and usually delivery free. It is very exciting to eventually achieve “drug mediated regenerative medicine” via in vivo transdifferention.

  2. “in vitro human clinical trials”

  The first time that a drug touches the human body during drug development is often not until the clinical trials. Traditional pre-clinical surrogate models normally lack the accuracy in mimicking human biology, which increases the risk of R&D failure. Therefore it is very important to obtain predictive human data in the preclinical stage. In vitro human disease modeling using stem cell technologies provide a promising solution. Such models can be used to study human physiology and pathology, and to evaluate efficacy and safety for drugs, so called “in vitro human clinical trials”.

The application of a novel protein labeling technology in the mechanistic study of pharmacological modulation of a stem cell signaling pathway

The application of novel High Content Screening (HSC) technology in stem cell drug discovery

Plain english:
  The central scientific questions for stem cell biology are around the establishment, maintenance, and change of cell fates. Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are capable of both self renewal and differentiation. Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to PSCs, namely induced pluripotent stem cells(iPSCs). One type of differentiated cell identity can be directly programmed to another differentiated identity without going through a pluripotent state. Taking advantage of these cell fate changes, on the one hand, functional cells can be produced and used for regenerative medicine. On the other hand, “sick” cells that display disease associated cellular phenotypes can be produced, which are used to model human diseases in culture, to study disease mechanisms, and to discover new drugs and new drug targets .


Selected publications:

  1. Wu, F., Zhang, Y., Sun, B., McMahon, A.P., Wang, Y. (2017) Hedgehog Signaling: From Basic Biology to Cancer Therapy (2017). Cell Chemical Biology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2017.02.010
  2. Ding, H., Yang, D., Zhao, C., Song, Z., Liu, P., Wang, Y., Chen, Z., Shen, J. (2015) Protein−Gold Hybrid Nanocubes for Cell Imaging and Drug Delivery. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 7 (8): 4713–4719.
  3. Schwartz, M.P., Hou, Z., Propson, N.E., Zhang, J., Engstrom, C.J., Costa, V.S., Jiang, P., Nguyen, B.K., Bolin, J.M., Daly, W., Wang, Y., Stewart, R., Page, C.D., Murphy, W.L., and Thomson, J.A. (2015) Human pluripotent stem cell-derived neural constructs for predicting neural toxicity. PNAS 112 (40): 12516-12521.
  4. Wang, Y.*, and McMahon, A.P. (2013). A novel site comes into sight. eLife2, e01680.
  5. Wang, Y., Davidow, L., Arvanites, A.C., Blanchard, J., Lam, K., Xu, K., Oza, V., Yoo, J.W., Ng, J.M., Curran, T., Rubin, L.L. *, and McMahon, A.P*. (2012b). Glucocorticoid compounds modify smoothened localization and hedgehog pathway activity. Chemistry & biology19, 972-982.
  6. Wang, Y., Arvanites, A.C., Davidow, L., Blanchard, J., Lam, K., Yoo, J.W., Coy, S., Rubin, L.L. *, and McMahon, A.P*. (2012a). Selective identification of hedgehog pathway antagonists by direct analysis of smoothened ciliary translocation. ACS chemical biology7, 1040-1048.
  7. Wang, Y., Zhou, Z., Walsh, C.T. *, and McMahon, A.P. * (2009). Selective translocation of intracellular Smoothened to the primary cilium in response to Hedgehog pathway modulation. PNAS106, 2623-2628.
  8. Wang, Y.1, McMahon, A.P. *, and Allen, B.L. 1 (2007). Shifting paradigms in Hedgehog signaling. Current opinion in cell biology19, 159-165.




  1. Wang Y and McMahon AP (2013). System for screening agonists/antagonists of cellular signaling pathways. US Patent 8,574,837.
  2. Wang Y, McMahon AP, and Rubin LL (2013). Modulators of Hedgehog signaling pathway. US Patent App. 20,130,274,233.