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 - 6041A
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: 434-982-4477
Fax: 434-982-3139

Current Lab Members

Tatiana Coverdell
PhD Student

Yuntian Guan
PhD Student
Maya Dorn
SRIP Student

Post-docs Staff    
Josh Drake, PhD
(ADA Fellowship)
Mei Zhang, B.S.Med
Lab Manager
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I graduated from Hillsdale College in 2017 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. My main interests are on the impact of exercise on human health and disease. Exercise training is already known to be beneficial to human health, serving to prevent disease and promote well being. This is due largely to physiological and molecular changes within skeletal muscle after training. As many of these molecular mechanisms are complex and not yet well known, my current project is focused on identifying the mechanisms by which exercise can prevent atherosclerosis. Iím looking forward to a productive and compelling experience as a graduate student in the Yan Lab at UVA. Outside of lab, my interests and hobbies involve many outdoor activities, including running and hiking.

Tatiana Coverdell
Ph.D. Student

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: tcc5wn@virginia.edu

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As a graduate student in the BIMS program, I am interested in the uncovering and understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind adaptations to exercise training in striated muscles. Exercise training has been identified to be one of the best approaches in preventing many diseases, promoting patient recovery, maintaining healthy life styles, and even as treatments. However, it is tremendously complicated in the molecular level and the understanding of different aspects of it provides important and useful foundations for pharmacology, physiology, and many othder fields. In particular, I am interested in studying how mitochondrial quality in striated muscles is regulated, and more specifically, how mitochondria-specific autophagy plays a role in such regulation in both exercise and disease models.

I graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology & Health Sciences from College of WIlliam & Mary in Virginia. Outside of the lab I am a musician and play the piano and harpsichord.

Yuntian Guan
PhD Student

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: yg6ju@eservices.virginia.edu

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I am a rising senior at Wesleyan University, where I am double majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience & Behavior and minoring in Film Studies. I am from Saratoga, NY and I intend on studying Neuroscience in graduate school, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a PhD. I am part of the Yan Lab through the SRIP (Summer Research Internship Program). As someone who has been doing dance and colorguard from a young age and who plays Ultimate Frisbee in college, I am very interested in the molecular mechanisms of the health benefits of exercise. It has been my pleasure to work with Josh Drake, PhD this past summer, investigating a novel mechanism by which Ampk selectively recognizes damaged and/or dysfunctional locales of the mitochondrial reticulum in response to energetic stress.

Maya Dorn
MSTP Student

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: mdorn@wesleyan.edu

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will come soon.

Harrison Boyce, Undergraduate Student

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: hlb2es@virginia.edu

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A double wahoo, I have been in Charlottesville the past six years, and just completed my masterís degree in exercise physiology. I am excited to explore the mechanisms behind how exercise stimulates adaptations in a variety of organs and tissues that lead to a host of health benefits. I grew up in DC, so I am a diehard DC sports fan. I am a casual golfer and an avid runner, competing in local road races here in Charlottesville.

Campbell Ross, Volunteer

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: cbr7qx@virginia.edu

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As a rising senior at Washington and Lee University, I am majoring in Sociology & Anthropology major and minoring in Dance. In the coming year, I intend to complete my pre-medical track and aspire to attend medical school. For over four years I have trained in MMA fighting, helped others reach their fitness goals in group fitness classes, and have participated in multiple Spartan Races. Having this background in training in addition to clinical experience, I was ready to see more. This summer, I have the honor of following and assisting a PhD student, Di Cui, as she makes ground breaking discoveries through her kinesiology research. Serving as her right hand (wo)man has allowed me the opportunity to see the true science behind excersize and discover the marvelous benefits of physical activity through analyzing data.

Sara Prysi, Summer Student

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: prysis18@mail.wlu.edu

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I am interested in how mitochondrial quality control in primarily post-mitotic tissues (e.g. skeletal muscle) mediates the capacity for healthy aging. Specifically, my research investigates novel mechanisms by which damaged and/or dysfunctional regions of the mitochondrial reticulum are targeted for degradation through mitophagy and how such mechanisms are negatively impacted by aging and their relationship to age-related disease. Additionally, I am interested in how regular exercise promotes healthy aging through maintenance of mitochondrial quality.

Outside of the lab I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two boys. On occasion, I find time to develop my other interests of riding bicycles, searching for trout by way of a fly rod, and woodworking.

Joshua C. Drake, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: jcd6g@virginia.edu

Wilson, R.J.*, Drake, J.C.*, Cui, D., Zhang, M., Yan, Z. Generation of novel mouse models for the simultaneous assessment of mitochondria stress, structure, and degradation in vivo. Mitochondrion. S1567-7249: 17; 30196-4 (2017). Impact Factor: 3.7 * = shared authorship.

Laker, R.C.*, Drake, J.C.*, Wilson, R.J., Lira, V.A., Lewellen, B.M., Ryall, K.A., Fisher, C.C., Zhang, M., Saucerman, J.J., Goodyear, L.J., Kundu, M., Yan, Z. AMPK phosphorylation of Ulk1 is required for lysosome targeting of mitochondria in exercise-induced mitophagy. Nat Commun. 8: 548 (2017). Impact Factor: 12.12 * = shared authorship

Drake, J.C., Yan, Z. Mitophagy in maintaining skeletal muscle mitochondrial proteostasis and metabolic health with aging. J Physiol. 595, 6391-6399 (2017). Impact Factor: 4.74

Drake, J.C., Wilson, R.J., Yan, Z. Molecular mechanisms for mitochondrial adaptation in skeletal muscle to exercise training. FASEB J. 30: 13-22 (2016). Impact Factor: 5.3

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Dr. Zhang, Lab Manager, has more than 18 years of experience in molecular biology studies ranging from cultured cells to whole animal models, particularly in transgenic and knockout mice. Her expertise in biochemical and genetic analyses in small animal research is an asset to the team.

Mei Zhang, B.S.Med
Lab Manager

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail: mei.zhang@virginia.edu

1. Staab, J. F., Fosmire, S., Zhang, M., Varley, A.W., and Munford, R. S. Distinctive structural features are shared by human, lapine, and murine acyloxyacyl hydrolases. J. Endotoxin Res. 1999, 5, 205-208.
2. M. Lu, M. Zhang, R. L. Kitchens, S. Fosmire, A. Takashima, and R. S. Munford. Stimulusdependent deacylation of bacterial lipopolysaccharide by dendritic cells. J Exp Med. 2003, 197(12): 1745-54.
3. Yan, Z., S. Choi, X. Liu, M. Zhang, J. Schageman, S. Y. Lee, R. Hart, L. Lin, F. A. Thurmond, and R. S. Williams. Highly coordinated gene regulation in mouse skeletal muscle regeneration. J. Biol. Chem., 2003, 278(10):8826-36.
4. Feulner JA, Lu M, Shelton JM, Zhang M, Richardson JA, Munford RS. Identification of acyloxyacyl hydrolase, a lipopolysaccharide detoxifying enzyme, in the murine urinary tract. Infect Immun. 2004, 72(6):3171-8.
5. Akimoto T, Pohnert SC, Li P, Zhang M, Gumbs C, Rosenberg PB, Williams RS, Yan Z. Exercise stimulates PGC-1α transcription in skeletal muscle through activation of the p38 MAPK pathway. J. Biol. Chem. 2005; 280(20):19587-93.
6. Lu M, Zhang M, Takashima A, Weiss J, Apicella MA, Li XH, Yuan D, Munford RS. Lipopolysaccharide deacylation by an endogenous lipase controls innate antibody responses to Gram-negative bacteria. Nat. Immunol. 2005, 6(10):989-94.
7. Choi S, Liu X, Li P, Akimoto T, Lee SY, Gumbs C, Zhang M, Yan Z. Transcriptional profiling in mouse skeletal muscle following a single bout of voluntary running: evidence of increased cell proliferation. J. Appl. Physiol. 99(6):2406-15, 2005.
8. Li P, Akimoto T, Zhang M, Williams RS, Yan Z. Resident stem cells are not required for exerciseinduced fiber type-switching and angiogenesis, but required for activity-dependent muscle growth. Am. J. Physiol. 2006; 290(6):C1461-8.
9. Waldrop S. Chan CC, Cagatay T, Zhang S, Rousset R, Mack J, Zeng W, Zhang M, Amanai M, Wharton KA, Jr. An unconventional nuclear localization motif is crucial for function of the Drosophila Wnt/wingless antagonist Naked cuticle. Genetics. 2006 Sep; 174(1):331-48.
10. Li P, Waters RE, Redfern SI, Zhang M, Mao L, Annex BH, Yan Z. Oxidative phenotype protects myofibers from pathological insults induced by chronic heart failure in mice. Am. J. Pathol. 2007; 170(2):599-608
11. Shu Zhang, Toiga Cagatay, Mananai Amanai, Mei Zhang, Janine Kline, Diego H. Castrillon, Raheela Ashfag, Orhan K.Oz, and Keith A. Wharton, Jr. Viable mice with compound mutations in the Wnt/Dvl pathway antagonists nkd1 and nkd2. Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Jun;27(12):4454-64.
12. Yu Z, Li P, Zhang M, Hannink M, Stamler JS, Yan Z. Fiber type-specific nitric oxide protects
oxidative myofibers against cachectic stimuli. PLoS ONE. 2008 May 7;3(5):e2086.

Former lab members

X Liu, MD, PhD Post-doc 2000-2002 Executive Director at HD Bioscience Inc
SC Pohnert, PhD Post-doc 2002-2004 Primary Examiner at USPTO
RE Waters, MD Fellow 2002-2004 Cardiologist, Stockton Cardiology Medical Group
S Rotevatn, MD Visiting Professor 2002-2003 Professor, Haukeland University
T Akimoto, PhD Post-doc 2003-2005 Professor, Wasada University
P Li, MD, PhD Post-doc (AHA Post-doc fellowship) 2003-2007 Staff Scientist, NIH/NHLBI
OA Ajijola, BS Medical Student (HHMI Scholarship) 2004-2005 Assistant Professor In-Residence, UCLA
Z Yu, PhD Post-doc 2005-2007 Professor, Henan University
W Kam, Summer Student 2005-2005 Medical Student, Drexel University
AR Pogozelski, BS Medical Student (HHMI Scholarship) 2006-2007 Cardiologist, Allegheny General Hospital
Y Li, MD, PhD Post-doc 2006-2008 Research Instructor, University of Utah
KH Chow, MS Student 2006-2006 PhD Student, ,
M Koh, Summer Student 2007-2007 Undergraduate Student, Duke University
Y Guan, PhD Visiting Scientist 2007-2008 Research Operation, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore
Y He, BS Student 2007-2008 Resident, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
J Lee, Summer Student 2008-2008 Flight Instructor at EVA Flight Training Academy
NNSM Isa, BS PhD Student 2008-2008 Nursing School Student, McGill University
SG Ayyar, Medical Student 2008-2008 Med Student, University of Cambridge
JM McClung, PhD Post-doc 2008-2008 Assistant Professor, East Carolina University
C Zhang, PhD Post-doc 2008-2009 Research Associate, University of North Carolina
T Geng, PhD Post-doc 2009-2010 Professor, Yangzhou University
H Choi, BS Student 2009-2009 Unknown
L Myers, Summer Student 2010-2010 PhD Student, University of Virginia
Y Kamel, BS Student 2010-2011 MS student, Georgetown University
YN Akhtar, MD Post-doc (NIH Post-doc fellowship) 2009-2011 Cardiologist, Tennova Medical Group, Knoxville
J Eaton, BS PhD Student 2011-2011 PhD Student, University of Virginia
K Moody, Summer Student 2011-2011 Research Assistant, Brigham and Women's Hospital                                                                
X Liu, MS PhD student 2011-2011 PhD Student, University of Virginia
M Okutsu, PhD Post-doc 2008-2012 Lecturer, Nagoya City University
J Donet, MD Post-doc 2011-2012 Fellow, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
J Cai, MD Visiting Prof 2012-2012 Chief, Infectious Disease, Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Med Univ. sjcai163@163.com
H Ishaq, BS Student 2011-2012 Unknown
E Pettiford, BS Student 2013-2013 Unknown
NP Greene, PhD, Post-doc (NIH Post-doc fellowship) 2010-2013 Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas
VA Lira, PhD, Post-doc (APS Post-doc fellowship) 2009-2013 Assistant Professor, University of Iowa
M Mahoney, PhD student  2013-2013 PhD Student, UVA
M Bastakoti, BS Student 2012-2014, Resident, MedStar Washingtoh Hospital Center
P Xu, PhD, Post-doc 2012-2014, Research Associate, UVA
K Chain, BS, MS student 2011-2014, Science Teacher, Peabody School
JA Call, PhD, Post-doc (NIH and AHA Post-doc fellowships) 2011-2014, Assist Prof, University of Georgia
A Tang, High Sch Student 2014, Undergraduate Student, Rice University
D Lee, Summer Student 2015 Undergraduate Student, Wake Foreast University
X Chen, Post-doc 2014, Chief, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, China, chenxiaobinxy@163.com
RC Laker, Post-doc 2011-2015, Scientist, MedImmune, Maryland
J Zhang, Post-doc 2015-2016, Chief, Dalian Medical Univeristy 1st Affliate Hospital, China, zhjzh9@aliyun.com
H Zhao, Post-doc 2015-2016, Associate Professor, Dalian Medical University, China, johnala_cn@163.com
LM Leitner, Visiting PhD student, 2016, Dusseldorf University, Germany
SE Prysi, Summer Student, 2016, Undergraduate Student, Washington and Lee University
BM Lwellen, BS student, 2014-2017, Unknown
CC Fisher, BS student, 2014-2017, Medical Student, University of Alabama School of Medicine
RJ Wilson, PhD student (AHA Pre-doc fellowship) 2011-2017, Post-doc, Duke University
D Thomas, PhD student, 2017, PhD Student, UVA
D Cui, PhD student and Post-doc (China Overseas Scholarship) 2015-2017, Assistant Professor, Hunan University
M Ritger, MD/PhD Student, 2017, MD/PhD Student, UVA
CB Ross, BS Student, 2017, High School Coach
HL Boyce, BS Student, 2017, Volunteer, UVA
T Coverdell, PhD Student, 2018, PhD Student, UVA
Y Guan, Technician and PhD Student, 2017-2018, PhD Student, UVA
M Dorn, Summer Student, 2018, Undergraduate Student, Wesleyan University
JC Drake, Post-doc (NIH T32, NIH F32, ADA Post-doctoral Fellowship, NIH K99/R00)