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Dr Yihua Wang MBBS, PhD

Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, Principal Investigator (cell signalling)

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Dr Yihua Wang is Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career History

2009-2015: Postdoctoral Molecular Biologist. Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Oxford, UK.
2006-2009: Research Fellow. Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, London, UK.

Academic Qualifications

2018: Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.
2017: Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.
2006: PhD Cell Biology. Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.
2001: MBBS. Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, China.






Research interests

Dr Yihua Wang is Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

I have a long held interest in functional genomics and cell signaling. My postdoctoral work helped define several mechanisms that govern the activity of RAS signaling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) - the shift from a highly structured epithelial state to a flexible and motile mesenchymal form. These studies led me to appreciate the complexity of cell signaling required to control the plasticity of epithelial cells, which plays critical roles in a number of biological phenomena, including embryonic development, tissue repair, organ fibrosis and, not least, tumour metastasis.

EMT requires complex orchestration of multiple signaling pathways, including RAS pathway, which has been implicated in cancer as well as in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic, progressive, irreversible, and usually lethal lung disease characterized by interstitial fibrosis of unknown pathogenesis. Although IPF has been considered rare, it occurs with similar frequency to that of stomach, brain, and testicular cancers. Alveolar Type II (ATII) epithelial cells function as stem cells, contributing to alveolar renewal, repair and cancer. Therefore, they are a highly relevant model for studying pathologic EMT, especially considering the high burden of lung diseases, including acute lung injury, lung fibrosis and lung cancer. Using 3D culture of ATII cells, RNAi screen and proteomics, I aim to identify drug targets or biomarkers to intervene or predict the progression of RAS-mutated cancer and IPF.

My laboratory interacts and collaborates with many researchers across different disciplines at the Southampton Institute for Life Sciences and the Southampton Faculty of Medicine, as well as scientists in the Francis Crick Institute.

Current grants:

1. Royal Society's Research Grants.
2. Wessex Medical Research Innovation Grant.
3. The Academy of Medical Sciences/ the Wellcome Trust Springboard
4. Asthma Allergy & Inflammation Research Trust Research Award

PhD Supervision

Charlotte Hill: Role of autophagy in the regulation of EMT, invasion and metastasis in RAS-mutated tumour.
Funded by: Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust and University’s Central VC Scholarship Scheme

Ayse Ertay: Functional analysis of SGLT1, a potential therapeutic target for PTEN-inactive breast cancer.
Funded by: Wessex Medical Research

Liudi Yao: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by RAS activation in alveolar Type II cells leads to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) or lung cancer invasion?
Funded by: China Scholarship Council Faculty / International Office Scholarship

Selected Publications:

Yao L, Conforti F, Hill C, Bell J,…, Davies DE, Wang Y. (2018). Paracrine signalling during ZEB1-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition augments local myofibroblast differentiation in lung fibrosis. Cell Death Differ. 2018 Jul 26. doi: 10.1038/s41418-018-0175-7.

Wang Y*, Lu X. (2015). Chapter 7 – Cell polarity: a key defence mechanism against infection and cancer cell invasion? In, Cell Polarity 2. Springer, 167-186.

Wang Y*, Bu F*, et al. (2014). ASPP2 controls epithelial    plasticity and inhibits metastasis via β-catenin-dependent regulation of ZEB1. Nat Cell Biol 16, 1092–1104.

Turnquista C*, Wang Y*, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111, 9834-9839.

Wang Y*, Wang XD*, et al. (2012). Autophagic activity dictates the cellular response to oncogenic RAS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109, 13325-13330.

Wang Y*, et al. (2010). Critical role for transcriptional repressor Snail2 in transformation by oncogenic RAS in colorectal carcinoma cells. Oncogene 29, 4658-4670

Paracrine signalling during ZEB1-mediated EMT
Paracrine signalling during ZEB1-mediated EMT

Research group

Biomedical Sciences

Affiliate research group

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)

Research project(s)

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by RAS activation in alveolar Type II cells leads to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) or lung cancer invasion?

This project aims to identify molecular switches that can dictate the ability of RAS to contribute to either lung cancer or IPF using 3D culture and proteomics

Functional analysis of Sodium/glucose cotransporter 1 (SGLT1), a potential therapeutic target for PTEN-inactive breast cancer

This project aims to investigate the role of SGLT1 in the pathogenesis of PTEN-inactive breast cancer using cell biology, proteomics and biochemistry analysis.

Role of autophagy in oncogenic RAS-induced invasive behaviour

This project aims to understand the role of autophagy in oncogenic RAS-induced tumour invasion.

The role of factor inhibiting HIF (FIH) in the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

FIH is an asparaginyl hydroxylase for HIFα and many ankyrin repeat domain (ARD) containing proteins. The aim of this project is to understand how FIH regulates EMT and its implications in the development of IPF using integrated biochemical, transcriptomic, proteomic and imaging techniques.

How does autophagy regulate the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)?


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Book Chapter


BIOL2016 Pharmacology A
BIOL2017 Pharmacology B
BIOL3027 Selective Toxicity
BIOL3034 Laboratory Research Project
BIOL6013 Advanced Research Project

Dr Yihua Wang
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 85/3038

Dr Yihua Wang's personal home page
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