Dr. Yali Dou is a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. She currently serves as Co-Leader of the Genomics and Epigenetic Regulation (GER) program at Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Prior to joining USC in June of 2020, Dr. Dou was a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Biological Chemistry at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor since October of 2006. Dr. Dou has received a number of prestigious awards including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar Award (2012), Stand Up to Cancer IRG Award (2011), AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award (2010) and Dean’s Award in Basic Science at University of Michigan (2014).
Cell fate decisions are controlled by transcription factors acting in concert with epigenetic regulators, which include enzymes that carry out histone post-translational modifications. Epigenetic mechanism underlies cell fate commitment and plasticity; its dysregulation emerges as a key characteristic of human malignancies. The Dou lab uses multidisciplinary approaches to study the establishment and maintenance of gene regulatory networks, focusing on how chromatin modifications exert temporal and spatial gene regulation via transcription factors and DNA regulatory elements. The lab is also interested in the interplays between chromatin modifications and other important cellular processes, including metabolic regulation, genome stability and higher order chromatin organization. In particular, Dou lab has extensive research on the MLL/KMT2 family of histone methyltransferases. MLL/KMT2 deposit histone H3 lysine 4 methylation, which prominently marks active gene promoters and distal enhancers. The MLL/KMT2 enzymes are frequently deleted, mutated or translocated in acute leukemia, solid tumors as well as a wide spectrum of human developmental syndromes. The study will not only advance understanding of the fundamental roles of epigenetic modulators in development and diseases, but also provide critical insights into designing novel target-based therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment and regenerative medicine.