Itai Yanai, PhD, whose in-depth study of how embryos develop has led to internationally recognized breakthroughs in the analysis of gene composition and expression, has been named the inaugural director of the newly created Institute for Computational Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. He officially takes his new position on May 1, 2016.
The Institute for Computational Medicine will act as the hub for multidisciplinary efforts to reveal patterns in medical data that empower disease diagnosis and the design of new treatments.
“We are tremendously excited to welcome Dr. Yanai, who will help many research teams at NYU Langone to take advantage of the rapidly evolving field of computational biology,” says Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, senior vice president and vice dean for science and chief scientific officer at NYU Langone. “His recruitment to NYU Langone embodies our strategy to bring the very best experts in important fields into an environment where innovation and excellence thrive.”
Dr. Yanai, who also will hold the academic title of professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at NYU School of Medicine, comes from the faculty of biology at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. There he served since 2008 as a research leader in the study of gene regulation through the lens of evolution and development. Combining experimental approaches in embryology, molecular biology, and computational biology, he has explored the principles by which developmental pathways evolve.
“It is a great honor to become part of the ambitious and world-renowned research enterprise at NYU Langone,” says Dr. Yanai. “Overall, the institute’s mission is to promote the advancement of biomedical research through the development of novel data mining tools and the design of translational applications.”
Dr. Yanai’s lab has pioneered a powerful method for single-cell gene expression analysis that he will use to explore the progression of cancer and the process of infection. A prolific researcher, Dr. Yanai has also co-authored a recent science book—The Society of Genes—with Professor Dr. Martin J. Lercher of the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf in Germany.
Widely recognized for his contributions to science, Dr. Yanai is the recipient of many distinctions, including a 2014 fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Krill Prize of the Wolf Foundation for excellence in scientific research. He earned his PhD in bioinformatics from Boston University.