Itai Yanai

Thursday, 24 October 2019 at 15:00 | Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Itai Yanai | New York University, School of Medicine (USA)

Host: Theodore Alexandrov, Structural and Computational Biology Unit


Studying development and evolution using single-cell RNA-Seq.



Itai Yanai is the inaugural director of the Institute for Computational Medicine (ICM) and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Yanai’s research focuses on the interface of gene expression, development, and evolution. Dr. Yanai received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and the Philosophy of Science and his PhD in Bioinformatics from Boston University in 1997 and 2002, respectively. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics in 2004 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a postdoctoral fellowship in Developmental Genetics at Harvard University in 2008. At the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology from 2008-2013 and Associate Professor from 2014-2016.  He was a Radcliffe Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and a visiting professor, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, from 2014-2015. Dr. Yanai recently co-authored a popular science book, entitled “The Society of Genes”, along with Dr. Martin Lercher from Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf.

Research statement

Research in the Yanai lab revolves around studying dynamic biological processes through the lens of gene regulation. Using our training as both experimental and computational biologists, we are interested in exploring how gene regulatory pathways are deployed at the molecular level. Members of the lab carry out intricate experiments at the level of individual cells and apply computational approaches to explore the resulting data. In the field of scRNA-Seq, we developed one of the first methods for single-cell RNA-Seq, CEL-Seq and CEL-Seq2. We have also recently proposed an innovative new method called scDual-Seq for studying host-pathogen interactions at the single-cell level. More recently, the lab has also turned to an evo-devo approach to studying tumorigenesis, seeking large-scale principles common to all cancers and their functional relationships.