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Jia-Ray Yu, Ph.D.

Jia-Ray Yu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Jia-Ray Yu, Ph.D.  portrait

“We ask fundamental questions in chromatin biology and seek to understand how these multifaceted regulations are dysregulated in human cancers.”


Exploring how cancer cells hijack chromatin-modifying machineries and downstream effector proteins to facilitate oncogenesis 

To address an aggressive form of brain cancer, diffuse midline gliomas

Jia-Ray Yu, Ph.D.,  studies the regulations of gene expression at the chromatin level. As chromatin is a highly compartmentalized structure, the temporo-spatial regulations of the chromatin-associated factors are crucial for their collective functions in shaping the epigenome. These natural principles are, however, often dysregulated in human diseases such as congenital developmental syndromes and a variety types of cancer.

The lab probes these questions by integrating comprehensive research tools in chromatin biochemistry, reconstituted systems, deep-sequencing, molecular and cell biology, and cancer biology. The current focuses in lab include the following directions: 1) functional regulation of chromatin modifying enzymes by novel protein-RNA and protein-protein interactions; 2) how disruption of balancing between heterochromatin and euchromatin contributes to early oncogenesis in pediatric brain cancers; and  3) non-histone targets of histone-modifying enzymes.

  • Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Center for Cancer and Immunology Research, Children's National Research Institute, Children's National Hospital
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

Lee CH*, Yu JR*, Kumar S, Jin Y, Hamilton A, Reinberg D. Allosteric activation dictates PRC2 activity independent of its recruitment to chromatin. Molecular Cell2018 Apr 13. pii: S1097-2765(18)30223-5. *Equal contribution.

Yu JR*, Lee CH*, Oksuz O*, Stafford JM, Reinberg D. PRC2 is high maintenance. Genes & Development. 2019 Aug 1;33(15-16):903-935. (Review) *Equal contribution.

Lee CH*, Yu JR*, Granat J*, Saldaña-Meyer R, Andrade J, LeRoy G, Jin Y, Lund P, Stafford JM, Garcia BA, Ueberheide B, Reinberg D. Automethylation of PRC2 promotes H3K27 methylation and is impaired in H3K27M pediatric glioma. Genes & Development. 2019 Oct 1;33(19-20):1428-1440. *Equal contribution.

Yu JR, LeRoy G, Bready D, Frenster DF, Saldaña-Meyer R, Jin Y, Descostes N, Stafford JM, Plakantonakis DG, Reinberg D. The H3K36me2 writer-reader dependency in H3K27M-DIPG. Science Advances. 2021 Jul 14; 7(29): eabg7444

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York University Grossman School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


  • Ph.D. in Genetics, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • B.S. in Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
  • Emerging Scientist Award, Children's Cancer Research Fund, 2022
  • Children's Cancer Foundation Research Award, 2022
  • CURE Childhood Cancer Award, 2022
  • iTHRIV Scholars Career Development Award, 2022
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, American Cancer Society, 2017 – 2020