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Young Investigator Highlight: Yang Li, PhD

Carlo Navarro

Using Recurrent Aberrant mRNA isoforms for Early Cancer Detection.

The main goal of this project is to develop an inexpensive screen to detect early cancer progression by uncovering cancer-specific RNA splicing isoforms in blood. Dr. Li’s lab studies the regulation of RNA splicing, a process that must occur before gene can be translated to create a protein. Dysregulation of the RNA splicing process recurrently occurs in a number of cancer types, but in particular, it is observed in over 30% of myeloid malignancies. Therefore, the ability to identify dysregulation could become an important way to detect cancer early in its development. Because aberrant RNA splicing events are not readily detectable using existing screens based on DNA sequencing, Dr. Li is pursuing a new screening process that could complement existing approaches for early cancer detection. He plans to test his novel screening technology by monitoring early progression of myeloid malignancies in patients with high risk of developing aggressive leukemia.