Wenli Yang, PhD

faculty photo
Research Assistant Professor of Medicine
Member, Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM), University of Pennsylvania
Member, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Director, iPSC Core Facility, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Member, Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Director, iPSC Core Facility, Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
Member, Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
Department: Medicine

Contact information
Department of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Smilow Center for Translational Research, 11th Floor, Rm 111
3400 Civic Center Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-0589
Fax: 215-573-2094
BS (Biochemistry)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1995.
PhD (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics)
University of California, Los Angeles, 2001.
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Description of Research Expertise

I established and direct the induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core facility at the University of Pennsylvania. My group has over 12 years of experience in developing human cellular models of disease using iPSCs. We have generated hiPSC lines from more than 200 normal and diseased human subjects and have characterized some of these lines extensively. We also routinely employ CRISPR/Cas9 technology to create genetic modifications in PSCs including gene reporters, gene knock-outs and single base knock-in cell lines. Another major strength of my group is establishing robust and reproducible protocols based on published literature for differentiation of PSCs into various cell lineages, which include but limited to cardiomyocytes, hepatocytes, endothelial cells, adipocytes, skeletal muscle cells and pancreatic beta cells. Of note, I played a key role in a NIH funded project (U01 HG006398) demonstrating iPSC-hepatocytes are a powerful and relevant model for discovering and interrogating functional variants and genes contributing to complex human diseases. My group collaborates extensively with Penn and external stem cell research communities to facilitate research in the areas of cardiomyocyte biology, adipocyte biology, lung regeneration, hepatocyte biology, muscle cell therapy and type 1 diabetes using the above-mentioned research tools that we have developed. In addition to directing the Core, I have an active research program aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which candidate GWAS genetic variants and genes associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) affect the function of T2D-relevant cell types. In particular, I am interested in understanding the contribution of skeletal muscle expressed genes in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes using human cell lines and stem-cell derived myocytes.

Selected Publications

Cotticelli MG, Xia S, Truitt R, Doliba NM, Rozo AV, Tobias JW, Lee T, Chen J, Napierala JS, Napierala M, Yang W, Wilson RB.: Acute frataxin knockdown in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes activates a type I interferon response. Dis Model Mech 16: dmm049497, May 2023.

Sakata Y, Cheng K, Mayama M, Seita Y, Detlefsen AJ, Mesaros CA, Penning TM, Shishikura K, Yang W, Auchus RJ, Strauss JF 3rd, Sasaki K.: Reconstitution of human adrenocortical specification and steroidogenesis using induced pluripotent stem cells. Dev Cell 57: 2566-2583, Nov 2022.

Kee J, Thudium S, Renner DM, Glastad K, Palozola K, Zhang Z, Li Y, Lan Y, Cesare J, Poleshko A, Kiseleva AA, Truitt R, Cardenas-Diaz FL, Zhang X, Xie X, Kotton DN, Alysandratos KD, Epstein JA, Shi PY, Yang W, Morrisey E, Garcia BA, Berger SL, Weiss SR, Korb E.: SARS-CoV-2 disrupts host epigenetic regulation via histone mimicry. Nature Nov 2022.

Fernandez RJ, Gardner ZJG, Slovik KJ, Liberti DC, Estep KN, Yang W, Chen Q, Santini GT, Perez JV, Root S, Bhatia R, Tobias JW, Babu A, Morley MP, Frank DB, Morrisey EE, Lengner CJ, Johnson FB.: GSK3 inhibition rescues growth and telomere dysfunction in dyskeratosis congenita iPSC-derived type II alveolar epithelial cells. Elife 11: e64430, May 2022.

Jiang CL, Goyal Y, Jain N, Wang Q, Truitt RE, Coté AJ, Emert B, Mellis IA, Kiani K, Yang W, Jain R, Raj A.: Cell type determination for cardiac differentiation occurs soon after seeding of human-induced pluripotent stem cells. Genome Biol 23: 90, Apr 2022.

Ramachandran K, Maity S, Muthukumar AR, Kandala S, Tomar D, Abd El-Aziz TM, Allen C, Sun Y, Venkatesan M, Madaris TR, Chiem K, Truitt R, Vishnu N, Aune G, Anderson A, Martinez L, Yang W, Stockand JD, Singh BB, Srikantan S, Reeves WB, Madesh M.: SARS-CoV-2 infection enhances mitochondrial PTP complex activity to perturb cardiac energetics. iScience 25: 103722, Jan 2022.

Kim J, Ekstrom T, Yang W, Donahue G, Grygoryev D, Ngo TTM, Muschler JL, Morgan T, Zaret KS.: Longitudinal Analysis of Human Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Development Reveals Transient Gene Expression Signatures. Mol Cancer Res 19(11): 1854-1867, Nov 2021.

Mellis IA, Edelstein HI, Truitt R, Goyal Y, Beck LE, Symmons O, Dunagin MC, Linares Saldana RA, Shah PP, Pérez-Bermejo JA, Padmanabhan A, Yang W, Jain R, Raj A.: Responsiveness to perturbations is a hallmark of transcription factors that maintain cell identity in vitro. Cell Syst 12: 885-899, Sep 2021.

Bodnar B, Zhang Y, Liu J, Lin Y, Wang P, Wei Z, Saribas S, Zhu Y, Li F, Wang X, Yang W, Li Q, Ho WZ, Hu W.: Novel Scalable and Simplified System to Generate Microglia-Containing Cerebral Organoids From Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Front Cell Neurosci 15: 682272, Jul 2021.

Shah PP, Lv W, Rhoades JH, Poleshko A, Abbey D, Caporizzo MA, Linares-Saldana R, Heffler JG, Sayed N, Thomas D, Wang Q, Stanton LJ, Bedi K, Morley MP, Cappola TP, Owens AT, Margulies KB, Frank DB, Wu JC, Rader DJ, Yang W, Prosser BL, Musunuru K, Jain R.: Pathogenic LMNA variants disrupt cardiac lamina-chromatin interactions and de-repress alternative fate genes. Cell Stem Cell 28: 938-954, May 2021.

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Last updated: 03/22/2023
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