Speaker: Prof. Yi ZHANG

Time: 16:15-17:45 PM, 18 Oct. , 2023

Venue: Room 111, Lynn Library

My journey on epigenetics and beyond


Epigenetic modifications play important roles in regulating gene expression, thus impact multiple biological processes, including embryonic development, human diseases, and nature aging process. In my talk, I will first summarize our efforts in the past 25 years in identifying and characterizing various epigenetic enzymes and understanding their roles in preimplantation development and animal cloning. I will then discuss our recent efforts in understanding aging process with the goal of slow-down this process or rejuvenate.



Yi Zhang is a Fred Rosen Chair Professor of the Department of Genetics and Department of Pediatrics of the Harvard Medical School and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also an Associate Member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Broad Institute. Before joining Harvard, he was a Kenan Distinguished Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. His major interest has been the epigenetic basis of gene expression in early development, stem cell reprogramming and aging, as well as reward-related learning and memory. He is also interested in how dysregulation of epigenetic enzymes contributes to various human diseases including cancer and drug addiction.

Dr. Zhang has made fundamental contributions to the epigenetics field through systematic identification and characterization of chromatin modifying enzymes, including the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) complex, histone methyltransferases (e.g. Ezh2/PRC2, Dot1L), the JmjC-containing histone demethylases, histone H2A ubiquitin E3 ligase PRC1, and the TET family of 5-methylcytosine dioxygenases. In addition to identifying these critical epigenetic enzymes, he contributed in elucidation the mechanisms underlying the three classic epigenetic phenomena, Polycomb silencing, genomic imprinting, and X-chromosome inactivation. Importantly, he greatly improved the animal cloning technology by identifying and overcoming two of the most important epigenetic barriers of cloning, as well as helped in developing PRC2/EZH2 inhibitor TAZVERIK, an FDA approved drug for epithliod sarcoma and follicular lymphoma. Recently, he uncovered the genomic origin, biogenesis, and the immunostimulatory function of extrachromosomal circular DNAs. Dr. Zhang was named a Top 10 author of high impact papers in Genetics and Molecular Biology (2002-2006), and one of the most influential scientists in the world by ScienceWatch. He has published over 190 high impact papers with more than 84,500 citations and an H-index of 118. 

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