Jason Yang’s research focuses on developing innovative therapies for chronic and infectious diseases

Jason H. Yang, PhD, chancellor scholar and assistant professor of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in the Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), has been awarded the 2021 Agilent Early Career Professor Award.

The Agilent Early Career Professor Award (AECPA) is an annual program that recognizes and supports promising research from professors who, early in their careers, show outstanding potential for future research in areas of importance to the communities Agilent serves.

“It is an immense honor to be named for this year’s prestigious Agilent Early Career Professor Award. This award will enable us to expand our research

Jason H. Yang, Ph.D.

capabilities and allow us to make new quantitative, real-time measurements into understanding how immune cells make cellular decisions,” said Yang, who also serves as co-chair of the Rutgers COVID Research Alliance within the Rutgers Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. “We are excited about the new discoveries this award will help unlock and about the new relationship we will build with Agilent as our work at Rutgers moves forward.”

The assistant professor and his team are studying the cell signaling and metabolic circuitry underlying how human macrophages decide which chemical signals to secrete, as they navigate through the body to different tissues and coordinate multicellular activities. His work has applications in infection, autoimmunity, and cancer and his research could enable the developing of innovative macrophage cell-based therapies for a variety of human diseases. Yang and his team think that by reverse engineering the cell circuitry controlling macrophage cell functions, they can design new gene circuits “that can turbo-charge macrophages to unlock new cell functions and cure complex diseases such as cancer and heart failure.”

“Dr. Yang’s innovative research leverages an integrated set of expertise in network modeling and machine learning tools, with high-throughput, quantitative experimentation to accelerate the discovery of biological mechanisms underlying the function of the human immune system,” said Jack Wenstrand, Ph.D., director of University Relations and External Research at Agilent.  “We are delighted to contribute to and accelerate Dr. Yang’s research, and we are confident that his methods, his discoveries, and the students he will advise will be influential in the research community and will translate to improvements in human health.”

The award is an unrestricted research award of $100,000 to be distributed in two years and allows faculty researchers to establish collaborative relationships with researchers at Agilent Technologies. Agilent, headquartered in California, provides laboratories worldwide with instruments, services, consumables, applications and expertise in life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets.

Yang leads a multidisciplinary and diverse team of students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior researchers primarily focusing on studying the biological mechanisms underlying how human diseases develop and how they may be cured. Their ultimate goal is to rationally design innovative therapies for the world’s most pressing health challenges, including antimicrobial resistance, tuberculosis, and cardiovascular disease.

“If research innovations in chemistry ushered in the Industrial Revolution, and research innovations in physics ushered in the Digital Revolution, research innovations in biology are now poised to transform human health and our interactions with the natural world,” added Yang.

“One area in which we are already witnessing a biological health revolution is in the field of synthetic biology, where biomedical researchers are using advanced genetic engineering techniques to create cell-based therapies for diseases such as cancer,” explained Yang, who with his wife, recently welcomed his son Temujin into the world. “I now wake up each day inspired to make this world a better place for him and to show him that even our wildest dreams can someday be made a reality.”