Yan Laboratory
Exercise Physiology

Center for Skeletal Muscle Research
Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center
University of Virginia School of Medicine
409 Lane Road, MR4 - 6031A
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: 434-982-4477
Fax: 434-982-3139
E-mail: zhen.yan@virginia.edu

Welcome to the Yan Lab

Zhen Yan, Ph.D.

Molecular mechanism and health benefits of exercise

Non-communicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, account for more than 60% of the death in America and more than 75% of health care costs. On the other hand, it is undisputed that regular exercise has profound health benefits and is the most powerful intervention in prevention and treatment of these chronic diseases. We employ the state-of-the-art molecular and imaging technologies in a variety of animal models to elucidate the underlying molecular and signaling mechanisms of exercise training-induced adaptations and their impacts on health and disease. For more information, click Projects

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"Live talk show"@1070 WINA; Interviews by NBC29; 1070 WINA, NBC29


Trained as a surgeon in China, Dr. Yan has been devoted to research on exercise and health. He obtained M.S. degree (1991) in Kinesiology from University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and Ph.D. degree (1995) in Physiology and Cell Biology from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He received his post-doctoral training (1999) in Molecular Cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. After serving as a Lead Scientist (2000-2002) in the Alliance for Cellular Signaling led by Nobel Laureate Alfred Gilman, Dr. Yan moved to Duke University in 2002 and launched his independent research and was later involved in the establishment of Duke-NUS Graduate School Singapore (2006). Dr. Yan joined Cardiovascular Medicine and the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center at University of Virginia in 2009. Dr. Yan is known for his in-depth, mechanistic research of the impact of exercise training on health and disease. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Dr. Yan serves as Vice Chairman for International Research Group of Biochemistry of Exercise (IRGBE), Associate Editor of Sports Medicine and Health Science (SMHS) and on the editorial board for American Journal of Physiology.

New publications

108 peer-reviewed publications; h-index = 50; 15579 times referenced, 31 publications referenced over 100 times (Complete list at NCBI).

Drake JC, Laker RC, Wilson RJ, Zhang M, Yan Z. Exercise-induced mitophagy in skeletal muscle occurs in the absence of stabilization of Pink1 on mitochondria. Cell Cycle (accepted)

Wilson RJ, Drake JC, Cui D, Ritger ML, Guan Y, Call JA, Zhang M, Leitner LM, Godecke A, Yan Z. Voluntary running protects against neuromuscular dysfunction following hindlimb ischemia-reperfusion in mice. J Appl Physiol (accepted)

Wilson RJ, Drake JC, Cui D, Lewellen BM, Fisher CC, Zhang M, Kashatus DF, Palmer LA, Murphy MP, Yan ZMitochondrial protein S-nitrosation protects against ischemia reperfusion-induced denervation at neuromuscular junction in skeletal muscle. Free Radic Biol Med. 2018 Feb 9;117:180-190.PubMed PMID: 29432799.

Wilson RJ, Drake JC, Cui D, Zhang M, Perry HM, Kashatus JA, Kusminski CM, Scherer PE, Kashatus DF, Okusa MD, Yan ZConditional MitoTimer reporter mice for assessment of mitochondrial structure, oxidative stress, and mitophagy. Mitochondrion. 2017 Dec 20. pii: S1567-7249(17)30196-4. PubMed PMID: 29274400.

Call JA, Donet J, Martin KS, Sharma AK, Chen X, Zhang J, Cai J, Galarreta CA, Okutsu M, Du Z, Lira VA, Zhang M, Mehrad B, Annex BH, Klibanov AL, Bowler RP, Laubach VE, Peirce SM, Yan ZMuscle-derived extracellular superoxide dismutase inhibits endothelial activation and protects against multiple organ dysfunction syndrome in mice. Free Radic Biol Med. 2017 Dec;113:212-223. PubMed PMID: 28982599; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5740866.

Laker RC, Drake JC, Wilson RJ, Lira VA, Lewellen BM, Ryall KA, Fisher CC, Zhang M, Saucerman JJ, Goodyear LJ, Kundu M, Yan ZAmpk phosphorylation of Ulk1 is required for targeting of mitochondria to lysosomes in exercise-induced mitophagy. Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 15;8(1):548. PubMed PMID: 28916822; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5601463.

Associated Sites at UVa

Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center (aka CVRC)
Department of Cardiovascular Medicine
Cardiovascular Training Grant (CVTG and Facebook)

Dr. Zhen Yan (right) on a trip to the Great Wall with the Chairman (Dr. Marc Francaux, back), Secretary (Dr. Robyn Murphy, middle) and Founder (Dr. Jacques Poortmans, left) of IRGBE.


Dec. 12, 2018---Dr. Josh Drake's paper entitled: "Exercise-induced mitophagy in skeletal muscle occurs in the absence of stabilization of Pink1 on mitochondria" accepted by Cell Cycle.

Dec. 3, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan invited to speak at the Enrichment Program Seminar Series at the Indiana University School of Medicine Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases (CDMD).

Nov. 30, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan presented at UVA/HHU Autumn International Research Training Grant session on NMJ in functional regeneration of skeletal muscle after IR.

Nov. 22, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan served as an opponent for a PhD defense at University of Copenhagen.

Nov. 7-8, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan presented at the 15th Conference of the Asian Society of Mitochondrial Research and Medicine in Busa, Korea.

Oct. 30, 2018---Dr. Becky Wilson's paper entitled: "Voluntary running protects against neuromuscular dysfunction following hindlimb ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice" accepted by Journal of Applied Physiology for publication.

Oct. 23-25, 2018---Drs. Zhen Yan, Josh Drake and Di Cui attended the 17th International Biochemnistry of Exercise Conference in Beijing, which is organized by the International Research Group on Biochemistry of Exercise (IRGBE) where Dr. Zhen Yan serves as Vice Chairman. Dr. Zhen Yan gave a talk entitled: "Exercise-induced mitophagy: Location, location and Location!" on the first day of the conference. The conference was reported by Xinhua News Agency and got more than 1 million hits!!!

Oct. 13, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan invited to speak at University of Georgia Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminars and Mini Symposium in Athens.

Oct. 1, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan selected to display a poster entitled: "Mitochondria-associated Ampk mediates mitochondrial quality control in skeletal muscle" at The 10th International Meeting on AMPK at McMaster Univeristy.

Sept. 24, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan induced into the MilliPub Club for 2018 at University of Virginia.

Sept. 6, 2018---Dr. Zhen Yan invited to present ovarian cancer prevention by exercise work at Integrative Biology of Exercis (IPE) conference in San Diego.

Aug. 6, 2018--Dr. Zhen Yan invited to present mitochondral AMPK work at FASEB Summer Research Conference in Snowmass.

Jun. 12, 2018--Dr. Di Cui appointed Assistant Professor at Hunan University in China.

May 29, 2018--Dr. Zhen Yan appointed Associate Editor of Sports Medicine and Health Sciences.

Mar. 6, 2018--Dr. Becky Wilson received 2018 Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Outstanding Graduate Student award! Good luck with her competition for the Peach and Hungerford awards

Feb. 2, 2018--Dr. Becky Wilson's thesis work accepted by Free Radical Biology & Medicine.

Feb. 1, 2018--Dr. Josh Drake received a fundable score for his NIH K99/R00 application