A major focus of Dr. Yao’s research is to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings of cancer health disparities. Based on the unique resources with a large number of Black and White breast cancer patients and controls from the Women’s Circle of Health Study (WCHS; PI: Christine Ambrosone, PhD), he has developed and led a number of projects to investigate the roles played by genetic inheritance, vitamin D and host immunity in determining the differential burden of cancer morbidity and mortality between the two racial groups. In particular, he is leading a five-year $6.6 million multiple PI R01 project funded by NCI to characterize the somatic mutational landscape of breast cancer in a total of 3,000 African American women and to examine the etiological relationships between tumor mutations and epidemiological risk factors.
Another major area of Dr. Yao’s research is to identify molecular and genetic predictors of cancer survival and treatment toxicities. This work is mostly based on one of the largest breast cancer survivor cohorts, the Pathways Study (PI: Lawrence Kushi, ScD), which has enrolled 4,505 breast cancer patients through Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) with active follow up since 2006. Dr. Yao’s first R01 award co-led with Dr. Marilyn Kwan at KPNC was to investigate lifestyle, genetic and molecular determinants of aromatase inhibitors-induced fractures in the Pathways Study. He is also leading a large team-effort to perform genome-wide association analysis of common genetic variants with breast cancer survival and toxicities.
At Roswell Park, Dr. Yao also leads a fully-equipped wet laboratory capable of performing various assays and procedures suitable for population studies. As the long-term overarching goal, Dr. Yao is particularly enthusiastic in translational and clinical research to apply scientific findings to cancer patients for better prevention, treatment and survivorship.
The list below shows the completed and active projects that are led by Dr. Yao as a PI or Multiple PI:
- NCI R01 CA228156 (Yao, Palmer, Zheng, Carpten) 02/01/2019-01/31/2024
Somatic Mutations and Their Etiological Determinants for Breast Cancer in African American Women
- NCI R03 CA223730 (Yao, Kelly, Zhu) 12/05/2017-11/30/2019
Genetic underpinnings of ethnic disparities in bone toxicities between Hispanic and non-Hispanic children treated for acute Lymphoblastic leukemia
- NCI R01 CA166701 (Kwan, Yao) 09/01/2012-06/30/2019
Lifestyle and Molecular Factors of Bone Health in Breast Cancer Survivors
- NCI R03 CA192205 (Yao) 07/15/2015-06/30/2018
Exome Array Analysis of Reproductive Aging and Breast Cancer in African American Women
- Susan G. Komen CCR12225973 (Yao) 11/27/2012-11/26/2016
Noncoding RNA Genetic Variations and Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Outcomes
- DOD BCRP Predoctoral Training Award (Yao) 04/10/2008-04/09/2011
Vitamin D, Vitamin D Receptor Polymorphisms, and Breast Cancer Aggressiveness in African American and European American Women.