Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common major birth defect, affecting an estimated 1 in 130 live births, yet the cause remains elusive. In a growing number of cases, genetic studies have traced CHD to defects in cilia, hair-like structures that are found in the developing heart. The Yuan lab seeks to understand how these cilia act as antennae to sense and translate extracellular signals into molecular processes that sculpt the early heart. A deeper understanding of how cilia function in heart development will provide critical insight into the rational design of new diagnostics and therapeutics that have the potential to improve the outcome and care of patients with CHD.
The Yuan lab utilizes embryological, cellular, genetic, molecular, biophysical, and microscopy-based approaches in zebrafish, mice and cell-based models. In addition, the Yuan lab develops and applies cutting-edge optical approaches, namely light sheet microscopy, optical tweezers, optogenetics, optical nanomaterials and laser nanosurgery.
Dr. Shiaulou Yuan is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Yuan received his undergraduate degree in molecular cell biology from University of California, Berkeley in 2004 under Dr. Athanasios Theologis. He completed his Ph.D. in genetics from Yale University in 2011 with Dr. Zhaoxia Sun. Dr. Yuan performed his postdoctoral training in cardiovascular biology and developmental biology with Dr. Martina Brueckner at Yale School of Medicine. He received additional postdoctoral training in light sheet microscopy, laser nanosurgery techniques, and biophysical approaches with Dr. Joe Howard at Yale University and Dr. Scott Fraser at University of Southern California. In 2018, he started his own independent laboratory in the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Yuan’s research focuses on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that shape the developing heart, and in particular, the function of cilia in this process.