Dr. Yao has a broad background in cancer systems biology, with specific training and expertise in cancer pathway modeling and experimental testing. As a biologist, he believes that the integration of experimental biology with quantitative science holds great promise in dissecting complex biological systems.
Driven by this perspective, Dr. Yao has focused his work and training at studying gene regulation and cell signaling using integrated computational and experimental approaches. His Ph.D. training was in cancer biology with additional emphasis on computational biology. By coupling modeling and experiments, his postdoctoral work demonstrated the first natural bistable system in mammalian cells, the Rb-E2F bistable switch that controls the cell cycle entry, and help identified oncogenic pathway signatures as a guide to targeted therapies.
As PI or Co-PI on several university and federal grants, Dr. Yao has developed a series of single-cell experimental systems, coupled with mathematical and statistical modeling, to address critical questions regarding mammalian cell fate decisions – particularly the balance between proliferation and quiescence. In this endeavor, he has developed close and effective collaborations with modelers, computational scientists, optical scientists, statisticians and clinical physicians.