University of Pittsburgh

All plenary sessions will be presented in Alumni Hall’s 7th floor lecture hall.

Mellon Lecture
Genome Regulation by Long Noncoding RNAs
4:00 p.m., Friday, 21 October
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Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD
Professor of Dermatology
Stanford University School of Medicine

As a physician-scientist trained in genome science, Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD, works to decipher the regulatory information in the human genome to advance disease diagnosis capabilities and treatments.

Chang’s research explores the shared genetic blueprint that gives rise to the thousands of cell types within the human body. He and colleagues investigate the mechanisms that govern the body’s differentiating ability to make skin, heart, brain, and other cells, as well as to spatially align and correctly place these cells throughout the body. Comprehending such processes has implications for normal development and for cancer metastasis. Understanding differences in cellular properties also guides the diagnosis and treatment of many skin diseases.

Chang and his colleagues have significantly contributed to the fields of epigenetics and RNA biology. They have invented new methods for epigenomic profiling and defined RNA structures across the genome. Chang’s research led to a series of discoveries that revealed the critical role of long noncoding RNAs in biological regulation and their ability to control gene regulation throughout the genome. He has developed methods to identify key mechanisms behind cell regulation of conversion of DNA into RNA, a process that orchestrates gene activity.

As director of the Center for Personal Dynamic Regulomes, one of the National Institutes of Health’s Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science, Chang leads a research team seeking to interpret the wealth of information locked within genomes and epigenomes and to more rapidly increase our understanding of genome regulation.   

Chang received his bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard University, his PhD in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his MD from Harvard Medical School. At Stanford University, he completed both a residency and postdoctoral fellowship in dermatology.

Chang’s many honors and awards include the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the Judson Daland Prize from the American Philosophical Society, membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and authoring one of 25 top papers honored by Cell for its 40th anniversary.