Yang Zhao

Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Gorbunova Lab

You work in a lab.  What are you currently researching?

I’m currently working on cancer resistance and aging mechanisms using subterranean rodents as animal models. Specifically, I’m looking at the molecular mechanism underlying cancer-resistance of a long-lived subterranean rodent, the blind mole rat. As a rodent, the blind mole rat has a maximum of lifespan of over 20 years, without any spontaneous cancer. The possible mechanisms that I’m trying to unravel involve special DNA methylation and transposon activities contributing to its cancer resistance. Meanwhile, I’m using another extremely long-lived rodent species, the naked mole rat, to demonstrate its special cellular senescence mechanism.

What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?

Raised in a family of education and culture, my childhood gave me access to philosophy and art. That made me particularly interested in what happens in the brain when people have their thoughts in the molecular level when I entered college. That’s why I chose to study biology, especially neurobiology in the first place, although I didn’t end up working on neuroscience.

What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?

The thing I enjoy most about working here is that I’m working with a group of brilliant people, with an excellent research environment, which is so important for me to improve my research skills.

What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned working here and/or studying Biology?

Work actively and think big.

How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?

I usually listen to music, practice piano, and learn to make coffee to get relaxed. Sometimes I also do some reading and watch movies.