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McBrayer lab member receives Human Frontier Science Program Fellowship

Yi Xiao, Ph.D. (left) and Sam McBrayer, Ph.D. (right)

Yi Xiao, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the McBrayer lab at CRI, was selected to receive the prestigious Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) postdoctoral fellowship to support his research into brain tumors. This grant provides Dr. Xiao and other recipients with three years of funding to pursue transformative research in the life sciences field. Fellowships from the HFSP are extremely competitive; awards were given to only the top 13% of all applicants this year.

“We are very pleased to learn that Yi has been selected as an HFSP fellowship awardee. Yi is an outstanding scientist who brings remarkable creativity and rigor to his work. This award will support the important research Yi is conducting to further our understanding of how brain tumors, particularly gliomas, form and will foster Yi’s scientific and professional development,” said Sam McBrayer, Ph.D., an assistant professor at CRI and Dr. Xiao’s primary mentor.

Gliomas account for 80% of all malignant brain and central nervous system tumors and are responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths worldwide and over 15,000 deaths in the United States annually. A significant portion of gliomas are initiated by mutations that affect IDH genes. These genes encode metabolic enzymes that, when mutated, cause profound metabolic reprogramming in brain tumor cells.

The McBrayer laboratory has recently developed a new mouse model of brain cancer driven by an IDH mutation. With the support of the HFSP grant, Dr. Xiao will use this new model to study how IDH mutations dynamically affect the transcriptome, the epigenome, and neural cell fate during brain tumor initiation. He hopes his work will lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets to combat brain cancer.

“I feel extremely excited and grateful to receive the HFSP fellowship for my research. The award would not have been possible without the support from my mentors, Drs. Sam McBrayer and Ralph DeBerardinis, my lab members, and the CRI administration team. The HFSP fellowship will help me to investigate the mechanisms of metabolic-epigenetic crosstalk that promote brain tumor formation,” said Dr. Xiao.

Dr. Xiao will be mentored by Dr. McBrayer and Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, a Professor at CRI.

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