Wei Yao, a bone biologist who is conducting leading-edge stem cell research to treat osteoporosis, will receive the 2012 UC Davis Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Research at a ceremony on May 2 on the UC Davis campus.
Yao is an assistant adjunct professor of general medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine, a member of the Musculoskeletal Diseases of Aging group and scholar in the Building Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health program.
Since joining UC Davis in 2005, Yao has studied osteoporosis and other diseases that weaken bone and conducted innovative research to develop interventions to increase or maintain bone mass. Her seminal work, published in Nature Medicine earlier this year, involved the development of a novel technique to enhance bone growth as a potential treatment for osteoporosis and other disorders. Yao found that the molecule LLP2A-Ale, when injected into the bloodstream, directs mesenchymal stem cells to the bone surface, where the stem cells can form new bone and increase bone strength. Her successful studies in mice may someday be expanded to clinical trials in patients.
"Dr. Yao is a young scientist whose research exemplifies our focus on developing innovative new treatments for osteoporosis and related bone disorders," said Nancy E. Lane, Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging and Geriatrics. at UC Davis School of Medicine.
"Her groundbreaking research has broadened understanding of the biology of bone formation and demonstrated a unique approach to increase bone density and prevent bone loss associated with aging and estrogen deficiency. It also may prove invaluable for other disorders and conditions that could benefit from enhanced bone rebuilding, such as bone fractures, bone infections or cancer treatments."
Yao earned her medical degree from Hunan Medical University in Changsha, China, and practiced internal medicine in Beihai, China. Her interest in conducting research led to post-graduate studies at Hunan Medical University, the University of Utah and the University of California, San Francisco.