Faculty Spotlight: Chen Yang, MD, PhD

By Lynn McCain | February 1 2021

Dr. Chen Yang joined the faculty of the Michigan Medicine Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics as an assistant professor in a joint recruitment effort in July 2020. He serves as the associate director of the Clinical Cytogenetics Lab (Pathology) and MMGL Molecular Genetics Lab (Pediatrics). Yang’s appointment is rather unique in that he has a 50% appointment in each department. Usually, faculty have a primary appointment in one department and a secondary “dry” appointment in another department.

During his medical education at Tongii Medical College at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Yang became fascinated with mechanisms of disease. This led to him pursuing a master’s degree in pathology at Peking Union Medical College, which was completed in 2003. He subsequently was accepted to a PhD program at the University of Buffalo, New York, where his research focused on eukaryotic basal transcription from 2005 – 2010. He obtained further cancer research experience during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University from 2010-2015 and clinical ABMGG fellowship training in Laboratory Genetics and Genomics (LGG) from 2017-2020, also at Virginia Commonwealth University. Yang credits his fellowship director, Dr. Colleen Jackson-Cook, for being his greatest influencer to date. Her role modeling imbued Yang with a dedication to accurate cytogenetic testing as well as turned him into a “happy morning person.”

Since joining the faculty at Michigan Medicine, Yang has focused on clinical laboratory testing for both constitutional genetic disorders and genetic abnormalities of cancer. “I am passionate about both conventional and advanced cytogenetic and molecular genetics testing,” stated Yang. “The results of these tests can greatly improve the management of adult and pediatric patients. Outcomes for not only the patient, but sometimes also their family members, can be significantly improved.”

Joining two new departments in the middle of a pandemic can be daunting. But Yang did not allow that to stop him. “The pandemic did not prevent me from interacting with the outstanding colleagues, staff, and trainees I encountered,” he said. “Both the Department of Pathology and Department of Pediatrics have very collegial environments.”

Yang and his family love living in Ann Arbor. They particularly enjoy the great Michigan weather and appreciate and make frequent use of the unique biker-friendly design of Ann Arbor. If you have not yet met him, please take a moment to introduce yourself.