Professor and O. Wayne Rollins Endowed Chair
Department of Anesthesiology
Research in Dr. Yu’s laboratory has been focused on the mechanism of neuronal and cancer cell death and neuroprotection after hypoxia and ischemia in vitro as well as in animal models. His investigations contributed to the identification of novel ionic and molecular mechanisms that involve voltage-gated channels and ligand-gated receptors in apoptotic and necrotic cell death. He was a pioneer in the discovery of the unique role of K+ homeostasis in apoptosis. He has published extensively in the area of cellular and molecular regulations of cell injury and regeneration under physiological and pathological conditions. His research provided in vitro and in vivo evidence indicating a novel form of “hybrid cell death” of concurrent apoptosis and necrosis in the same cells. Using electrophysiological and gene modification techniques, his group examined how some specific ion channels such as Kv2.1 over-activation may contribute to apoptotic cell death and how KCNQ3/4 channels regulate neuronal differentiation of neural progenitor cells and identified novel mechanisms for promoting FAK activation and cell migration. Dr. Yu’s group developed the new strategy of preconditioning transplanted stem cells. They have demonstrated the multifaceted pro-survival and pro-regenerative properties of hypoxic preconditioned cells in vitro and after transplantation into the ischemic heart and brain. In recent years, he has collaborated with Dr. Thomas Dix and Dr. Ling Wei in the development of a novel pharmacological hypothermia therapy and demonstrated its protective effects against brain damages after ischemic stroke, hemorrhage stroke and traumatic brain injury. He is also investigating cognitive and functional changes in animal models of CNS and PNS disorders. Cancer cell apoptosis and cancer pain regulation are other main topics in his research. These investigations take advantages of integrating cellular, molecular and animal technologies to develop effective and feasible therapies that aim to be translated into clinical practices.
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