Five Points Lecture: Itai Yanai, PhD
Where: New York Genome Center
101 Sixth Ave.
646-977-7000 Price: Free
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Affiliation: New York University, School of Medicine
Professional Title(s): Director of the Institute for Computational Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the New York University School of Medicine
Talk Title: Dissecting the embryo with single-cell RNA-Seq
Biography: Dr. Itai Yanai joined the faculty at New York University’s School of Medicine in May 2016 as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He serves as the inaugural Director of the Institute for Computational Medicine (ICM), whose goal is to harness computational approaches for fundamental and medically-relevant discoveries. Through the development of novel tools, the nurturing of young investigators, and translational applications, ICM aims to create a culture that promotes scientific advancements.
Dr. Yanai’s research focuses on the interface of gene expression, development, and evolution. Using his training as an experimental embryologist, a molecular biologist, and a computational biologist, his interest is exploring how developmental pathways evolve at the molecular level. Members of his lab carry out intricate embryological experiments at the level of individual cells and apply computational approaches to explore the resulting data. As a model system, they use the best understood animal, the nematode C. elegans. His lab developed the popular CEL-Seq method for single-cell RNA-Seq and they have used it to study stages, germ-layers, and body-plans in animal embryos. More recently, his lab is applying single-cell RNA-Seq to the study of tumorigenesis and bacterial infection.
Dr. Yanai received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and the Philosophy of Science and his PhD in Bioinformatics from Boston University in 1997 and 2002, respectively. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics in 2004 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a postdoctoral fellowship in Developmental Genetics at Harvard University in 2008. He served as adjunct Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics at Boston University from 2004-2008. At the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology from 2008-2013 and Associate Professor from 2014-2016. He was a Radcliffe Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and a visiting professor, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT from 2014-2015.
In addition to his research goals, Dr. Yanai firmly believes that the communication of knowledge is a major component of science and is involved in mentoring students, giving presentations, participating in outreach programs and in the dissemination of science to a popular audience. Towards this end, Dr. Yanai has also recently co-authored a popular science book, entitled “The Society of Genes,” along with Dr. Martin Lercher from Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf.