Current Team Members

Yongjie Yang

Professor of Neuroscience

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

Rashed Alananzeh

Lab Manager and Research Technician 

BA, Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA

Rashed graduated from Boston University in January of 2021 with honors of Magna Cum Laude. He received his bachelor of arts degree in Biology (Specialization in Cellular, Molecular, and Genetics). He enjoys immersing himself in the community and connecting with new individuals. Rashed is a hands-on mechanic and likes to fix and work on cars in his free time. He also enjoys reading and writing poetry. Recently, he committed to begin his medical education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA starting in the fall of 2023.

Marcela Bertolio

Post-Doctoral Scholar

PhD, Molecular Biology & Biotechnology, National University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Astroglia plays active and diverse roles in modulating neuronal/synaptic functions in the CNS. How these astroglial functions are regulated, especially by neuronal signals, remains largely unknown. My research focus on investigating the exosome RNA and non-exosome RNA-mediated neuron to astroglial communication mechanisms and how alteration of these mechanisms may contribute to neurological diseases.

Xuan Chen

Post-Doctoral Scholar

MD, PhD, Neurology, Xiangya Medical College, Central South University, Changsha, China

After graduation from Medical College, I practiced as a neurologist at clinic for 5 years. To fulfill my curiosity in the mystic brain network, I switched my interests from clinic to neuroscience. I’m fascinated by the smart soldiers—Microglia and their multifaceted roles in maintaining the homeostasis or triggering the disease progression in the brain. My research mainly focuses on understanding the signal transmission via exosomes between microglia and other neural cells of the brain in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.

Jingwen Hu

Master’s Student

B Eng, Pharmaceutical Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China

Jingwne is currently studying microglia immune response in neurodegenerative diseases. Her research is focused on the role of Celc7a in mediating the microglial immune response. She recently got accepted into the Genetics, Molecular, and Cellular Biology Ph.D program and will begin her studies in the fall of 2023.

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.

Qiyi Li

Master’s Student

Maria Majid

Master’s Student

BS, Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
MS Candidate, Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University, Boston, MA

Maria received her B.S. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of Rochester in 2019, after which she worked as a research technologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She returned to school at Tufts School of Medicine in 2021, where she completed her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in the spring of 2023, studying how different isoforms of FMR1 influence behavior in FMR1 KO mice. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing squash, dancing, and mentoring students! Recently, she committed to begin her medical education at the Tufts University School of Medicine starting in the fall of 2023.

Francesca Mowry

Postdoctoral Scholar

Kathryn Reynolds

Postdoctoral Scholar

PhD, Neuroscience, McMaster University, Hamilton ON, Canada
MSc, Molecular and Cellular Biology (Collaborative Neuroscience Specialization), University of Guelph, Guelph ON, Canada
BSc, Biomedical Science, University of Guelph, Guelph ON, Canada

I received my PhD in Neuroscience from McMaster University in 2021, where I studied astrocyte purinergic signalling in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). I am continuing my FXS research in the Yang lab by investigating developmental Fmr1 isoform-specific regulation of translation and behaviour, as well as astroglial-specific changes in microRNA levels. Outside of the lab, you’re most likely to find me exploring New England with my camera.

Caroline Reynolds

PhD Student

BS, Biological Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, DC

After studying Biology, Public Health and Sustainability at GW, I worked as a Research Assistant at UTHealth Science Center Houston and next as a Lab Technician at Cleveland Clinic. I am currently completing my PhD in Neuroscience in Dr. Yang’s lab at Tufts University. Here, I am investigating how astrocytic exosomes are able to efflux from the brain and enter the periphery’s circulation as well as determining how these vesicles are able to stimulate the peripheral immune system, and how these pathways are altered in late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease animal models.

Jon Hacker

PhD Student

BA, Neuroscience, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Jon started his Ph.D. work in the Yang Lab in the spring of 2023. He is interested in the mechanisms of exosome biogenesis within the CNS and uncovering defects in exosome production in the context of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. After working in neuroscience and immunology laboratories, he is interested in uniting the fields during his thesis work.

Elly Keum

Senior Research Technician 

BS, Biochemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

Elly graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in December of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with the highest distinction in the curriculum. After graduation, she worked as a research intern at Dr. Hee Jung Chung’s lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before arriving at the Yang lab. She wants to run her research lab in the future, and she is planning to apply for the Ph.D. program. Outside of the lab, she likes to bake cookies and bread.