Andrew Yao, M.S.

Research and Development Engineer

Personal Education

M.S. University of California – Davis, Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology
B.S. University of California – Davis, Biomedical Engineering

Research Interests/Projects

My primary research interest involves exploring the tools and technologies that are used to characterize transcriptional networks. To accelerate better characterization of transcriptional networks, better technologies are required to be able to decode complex regulatory pathways. Utilization and integration of transcriptomic tools (RNA-seq, Tag-seq) with Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing (ChIP-seq) allows for gene-level resolution into how living organisms respond to disease, develop and respond to perturbations from the environment. I’ve applied these techniques on a wide breadth of organisms spanning all three domains of life with application in disease, tissue engineering, and foundational research.

I enjoy the fascinating and ever expanding field of synthetic biology. I’m particularly interested in discovering and testing new ways of assembling DNA and using non-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms to improve and create novel circuits.

I am passionate about investigating how to make hands-on research experiences more valuable, equitable and accessible for minority and first generation students in science.

Current Project(s)

Transcriptomics in Articular Chondrocytes and Articular Chondrocyte Model Systems – Articular cartilage is a unique tissue system that plays an essential role in joint health. Articular cartilage has a very limited ability to regenerate, cartilage damaged by injury or disease will be a defect for the rest of an individuals life. With the recent promise of tissue regeneration via tissue engineering, we are utilizing our experience with systems and synthetic biology to explore how we can reprogram damaged chondrocytes to regenerate into healthy tissue.

Past Projects

ChIP-seq in Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 – ChIP-seq allows for the genome-wide mapping of transcription factor binding sites. This technology allows us to obtain a broad picture of an organisms response to certain stimuli to eventually link a stimulus and phenotypic output(s). The use of this technology is limited mainly by the large required input of chromatin, and the multiple column/bead based purifications that bias the sample. Improvements in these two areas will allow for greater resolution of data and open the technology to many other interesting model organisms or cell lines.

Development of a universal haloarchaeal defined media – GCMS is currently the best technology to discover the diversity of metabolites in living organisms. However, to be able to measure changes in metabolite levels within a cell, one most be able to set a known baseline for metabolite concentrations. For that reason, having a defined media in which our model organisms and potentially other members of the haloarchaeal clade is essential. This project entails finding a non-specific haloarchaeal defined media by inducing single dropouts of its components. By analyzing growth data in response to those drop outs we hope to be able to find a “perfect” universal defined media.

Gas vesicle biogenesis in Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 – NRC-1 is one of the best studied model archaeal organisms. Much literature exists on NRC-1’s ability to express gas vesicles. We are looking into how the expression of gas vesicles affects the ability to measure cell density with traditional light spectroscopy and also studying the complex response network of this process to multiple stimuli.

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