Current Team Members

Yongjie Yang

Associate Professor of Neuroscience

BA, Marine Biology, Ocean University of China
MS, Genetics, Ocean University of China
PhD, Neuroscience, Iowa State University
Postdoctoral Training, John Hopkins University

Francisco Espejo Porras

Postdoctoral Scholar

Biochemistry Licenciature, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
MS, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biomedicine, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
PhD, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

After my PhD in ALS and endocannabinoid system, I have now moved to Alzheimer’s disease and exosome research. Outside of science, I prefer to play sports rather than watch them, I play retro video games and think that the Spanish omelet is always better with onion than without.

Rachel Jarvis

Research Technician

BS, Biochemistry, University of Dallas, Irving ,TX
MA, Virology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Dallas in 2012, and a Master’s degree in Virology from Harvard University in 2017, where I studied entry mechanisms of neurotropic viruses. I joined the Yang lab in 2017 and have been studying the role of exosomal neuron-glia communication in mouse models of diseases such as addiction, Fragile X, and ALS, in addition to serving as the lab manager. Outside the lab, I enjoy soccer (playing and watching), playing tabletop games with friends, and reading.

Shijie Jin

Research Associate

MBBS, Medicine, Liaoning Medical University, Jinzhou, China
PhD, Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

Most of my studies have focused on the role of glial cells in neuro-immunological diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently I worked on “Cell type specific exosomes signaling in disease spreading of ALS” project. In the current study, we developed a cell-type specific exosome reporter mouse line (hCD63-GFP conditional knock-in, CD63-CKI) in which a GFP-fused CD63 can be induced in a particular cell type when bred with the cell-type specific Cre driver mice or stereotaxic injection of viral vectors expressing Cre recombinase. By employing this mouse tool, we found that exosomes are widely present in the CNS, and that astrocyte-secreted exosomes are significantly changed in SOD1 (G93A) mouse model of ALS. Our ultimate goal is to clarify the role of cell type specific exosomes and create novel beneficial therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disease.

Yuqin Men

Postdoctoral Scholar

BS, Bioengineering, Heze University, Heze, China
PhD, Developmental Biology, Shandong University, Shandong, China

I received my B.S in Bioengineering from Heze University in China. Afterwards I received a PhD in Developmental Biology from Shandong University in China. Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which is caused by the loss-of-function of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP).  However, whether the loss of astroglial FMRP alters astrocyte function and contributes to the pathogenesis of FXS remains largely unknown. In my project, I focus on studying a potential role of miR-mediated pathological mechanisms in mouse models of FXS, providing potential new targets to modulate FXS symptoms.

Vanessa Promes

Research Technician

BA, Neuroscience, Boston University, Boston, MA

“Born in Venezuela, I moved to the US for my undergraduate studies. I graduated from Boston University where I obtained my Bachelors in Neuroscience. Shortly after that, I joined the Yang Lab as a research tech where I’ve been able to work on and learn a lot about different neurological disorders. My focus includes obtaining and maintaining astrocyte and neuronal primary cultures, exosome research, and researching the role of miRNA in Fragile X models.”

Alessandra Tamashiro Orrego

Research Technician

BS, Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Hi! I’m currently a research tech at the Yang Lab. Born and raised in Lima, Peru. I moved to Philadelphia, USA in 2014 to undertake my undergraduate studies at Drexel University, where I graduated in 2018 with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences. After that, I moved here and have been studying exosomes dynamics in mouse models of disease. Some of my projects are: 1) Behavioral differences between Fmr1 KO, cKO-astrocytes, and cON-astrocytes mice. 2) Role of exosomes in a mouse model of addiction. 3) Analysis of neurons and exosomal signaling in SOD1 mice.

Jackson Dunnell

Undergraduate Student

BS, Biochemistry (Expected 2022), Tufts University, Medford, MA