Molecular & Cellular Biology

Revealing the secrets of nature & educating next generation of science innovators




Job Title

Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology


Molecular and Cellular Biology

Research Areas




Lab Webpage

What do we do?

We study gene networks that control life and death decisions of cancer cells, and how they differ from normal cells.

What is the goal of our research?

We aim to better understand control mechanisms underlying various cell-fate decisions, and their connections to cancer development and aging, as well as to potential therapeutic strategies.

What is our approach?

We use an integrated approach of high-resolution single-cell experiments and computer modeling. Single-cell experiments can uncover dynamic and heterogeneous behaviors of cancer cells that often get buried in population-average analysis; modeling can help reveal emergent properties of gene networks that are hard to grasp intuitively. As demonstrated in our previous work, the combinatorial approach holds great promise in dissecting complex biological systems like cancer.


  • TJ Lee, G Yao, L You. (2011). Cell Cycle Transition: Principles of the Restriction Point. In Encyclopedia of Systems Biology (In press).
  • G Yao#, C Tan, M West, JR Nevins, L You. (2011). Origin of bistability underlying mammalian cell cycle entry. Mol. Systems Biol. 7:485. (#Corresponding author).
  • J Wong, G Yao, JR Nevins, L You. (2011). Using noisy gene expression mediated by engineered adenovirus to probe signaling dynamics in mammalian cells. Methods in Enzymology 497:221-37.
  • J Wong, G Yao, JR Nevins, L You. (2011). Viral-mediated noisy gene expression reveals biphasic E2f1 response to MYC. Mol. Cell 41: 275-285.
  • TJ Lee, G Yao, DC Bennett, JR Nevins, L You. (2010). Stochastic E2F Activation and Reconciliation of Phenomenological Cell-Cycle Models. PLoS Biol. 8(9): e1000488. 
  • S Mori, JT Chang, ER Andrechek, N Matsumura, T Baba, G Yao, JW Kim, M Gatza, S Murphy, JR Nevins. (2009). Anchorage-independent cell growth signature identifies tumors with metastatic potential. Oncogene 28: 2796-2805.
  • G Yao, TJ Lee, S Mori, JR Nevins#, L You#. (2008). A bistable Rb-E2F switch underlies the restriction point. Nature Cell Biol. 10: 476-482. (#Co-corresponding authors)
  • TJ Lee, G Yao, JR Nevins, L You. (2008). Sensing and integration of ERK and PI3K signals by Myc. PLoS Comp. Biol. 4(2): e1000013.
  • S Mori, R Rempel, JT Chang, G Yao, A Lagoo, JR Nevins. (2008). Utilization of pathway signatures to reveal distinct types of B-lymphoma in the Eµ-myc model and human diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Cancer Research 68: 8525-8534.
  • AH Bild, G Yao, JT Chang, Q Wang, A Potti, D Chasse, MB Joshi, D Harpole, JM Lancaster, A Berchuck, JA Olson Jr, JR Marks, HK Dressman, M West, JR Nevins. (2006). Oncogenic pathway signatures in human cancers as a guide to targeted therapies. Nature 439: 353-357.
  • M Delong, G Yao, Q Wang, A Dobra, EP Black, JT Chang, AH Bild, M West, JR Nevins, HK Dressman. (2005). DIG – a system for gene annotation and functional discovery. Bioinformatics 21: 2957-2959.
  • A Dobra, C Hans, B Jones, JR Nevins, G Yao, M West. (2004). Sparse graphical models for exploring gene expression data. Journal of Multivariate Analysis 90: 196-212.
  • G Yao, M Craven, N Drinkwater, CA Bradfield. (2004). Interaction networks in yeast define and enumerate the signaling steps of the vertebrate aryl hydrocarbon receptor. PLoS Biol. 2: 355-367.
  • G Yao, EB Harstad, CA Bradfield. (2003). The Ah receptor. In PAS Proteins: Regulators and Sensors of Development and Physiology (S. Crews, Ed.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA, pp.149-182.
  • WK Chan, G Yao, YZ Gu, CA Bradfield. (1999). Cross-talk between the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and hypoxia inducible factor signaling pathways: Demonstration of competition and compensation. J. Biol. Chem. 274: 12115-12123.