Yao Dai, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Educational Background

  • Research Associate, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Postdoctoral fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Ph.D, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China
  • BSc, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China

Honors and Awards

  • Junior Investigator Award, Toronto, Canada
  • The Satoshi Omura Young Scientist Award, Beijing, China

Research Areas

Metastasis is the major cause of therapeutic failure and high mortality in cancer patients. The metastatic cascade consists of a series of cellular processes including angiogenesis, migration, invasion and survival. Oncogene-encoded signaling molecules, such as c-Src, c-Met and mTOR, aid tumor cells to progress towards an invasive phenotype and strongly correlate with poor prognosis. In addition, hypoxia, a common feature in solid tumors, has been identified as a major contributor to radiation resistance and a key factor associated with tumor cell dissemination. Given the pivotal role of low oxygen tension and aberrant intracellular signaling networks in the metastatic process, the potential for developing therapeutic strategies targeting these factors is significant. Molecularly targeted agents have exhibited considerable efficacy in intervening metastatic diseases. However, therapies directed at an individual target frequently display limited efficacies; primarily due to complex signaling pathways that are redundant and compensatory in both tumor cells and associated microenvironments. Utilizing multiple preclinical models, our research studies focus on 1) understanding the impact of the deleterious tumor microenvironment on key signaling pathways, 2) dissecting the mechanistic underpinning of redundancy and crosstalk among oncogenic signaling transducers, and 3) exploring rational combination therapeutic regimens aimed at better impairing cancer metastasis and improving radiotherapeutic response. The current investigation will offer valuable preclinical evidence necessary for the possible future development of clinical intervention strategies in patients with advanced diseases.