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Zeng-jie Yang, MD, PhD, Joins Fox Chase's Cancer Biology Research Program

PHILADELPHIA (November 21, 2010) – Zeng-jie Yang, MD, PhD, has joined Fox Chase Cancer Center as an assistant professor in the Cancer Biology Program.  Yang comes to Fox Chase from the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University, where his postdoctoral research primarily focused on the origins of medulloblastoma, a highly malignant form of brain cancer that is typically seen in children.

“Dr. Yang is a unique addition to our research team as he brings both the perspective of a dual medical-doctorate degree, and a focus on a largely pediatric cancer—a field that our research teams have not previously explored,” says Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Fox Chase.
During his postdoctoral research, Yang worked to identify which cell types give rise to medulloblastoma tumors.  He did this by generating a mouse model of the disease that closely resembled the human disease.  Yang found that two different types of cells, neuronal progenitors and neural stem cells, can give rise to medulloblastoma—a characteristic in contrast with other tumors, which have more uniform origins.  He also identified a unique population of cells that surround tumor tissue, which exhibit properties of stem cells and appear to be resistant to some forms of standard therapy.

“I decided to come to Fox Chase because of the diverse research community here and the tremendous research resources offered by the institute,” Yang says.  “I look forward to collaborating with the world-class cancer biologists and physicians at Fox Chase to continue my study in brain tumors.”
In his lab at Fox Chase, Yang will expand his knowledge of how medulloblastoma develops, and also explore brain development and regeneration after injury, by examining the role of stromal cells, which make up the loose tissue that connects organs.  He hopes to elucidate the interactions between these cells and tumor cells and ultimately understand the role that stromal cells play in tumor growth.

“The overall goal of this research is to find a way to target stromal cells and block the communication between tumor cells and stromal cells in order to effectively control tumor growth,” Yang explains.

Yang earned his MD from North China Coal Medical University and his MS from Fudan University in China.  He trained as a neurosurgeon in China, but shifted his focus to research on pediatric brain tumors at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he earned his PhD and was an Overseas Research Scholar.  Yang was active in teaching and mentoring activities during his education at these institutions, serving in various roles including lecturer and teaching assistant.

Yang’s work has been published in journals such as Genes and Development, Cancer Cell, and the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.  He maintains membership in several professional societies, including the British Society of Developmental Biology, the Society for Neuro-Oncology, and the Faculty of 1000.  Yang has also received various scholarships and awards, most recently earning the Award for Excellence in Brain Research from the American Society for Neuro-Oncology in 2006.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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