The Lundquist Institute Adds Six Exceptional Researchers to its Investigator Ranks

Renowned reproductive biology expert Wei Yan, MD, PhD, leads class of recruits

LOS ANGELES — The Lundquist Institute has added six new investigators to its distinguished research faculty, headlined by Wei Yan, MD, PhD, an internationally renowned investigator in reproductive biology. This new class of recruits will arrive on campus between June and September of 2020, with dedicated research space throughout the 11.5-acre campus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief the importance of bioscience research, and the competition for leading investigators has never been so fierce. That is why The Lundquist Institute is particularly proud of the quality of scientists in this class, all of whom were competitively recruited.

This group is led by Dr. Yan, who is leaving his professorship at University of Nevada, Reno, to join The Lundquist. Dr. Yan conducts research on how gametes—sperm and oocytes—are produced in mammals, using gene knockout technologies and molecular biology. He comes to The Lundquist Institute with one existing R-01 grant from the National Institutes of Health, a new R-01 grant that will begin coincident with his arrival on campus—and most importantly, a P-50 grant that also involves The Lundquist Institute investigators Christina Wang, MD and Ronald Swerdloff, MD as major participants.

The other star investigators in the latest class of recruits are:

Eiji Yoshihara, PhD, currently a staff scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies whose research revolves around creating cells that are sensitive to glucose levels and secrete insulin accordingly;

Lina Nih, PhD, currently a postdoctoral fellow in neurology and biomedical engineering at UCLA, where her research focuses on regenerative therapies for brain repair using a tissue engineering approach;

Hua Wang, PhD, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on the key molecular and cellular events during breast cancer development in patients harboring the BRCA-1 mutation;

Denise Al Alam, PhD, currently an associate professor at Children’s Hospital LA/USC Keck School, where her early translational research focuses on lung development and congenital lung diseases associated with Down syndrome; and

Nick Jendzjowsky, PhD, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary whose primary research interests lie in the mechanism by which the nervous system regulates pulmonary structure and function.

The quality of new investigators in this class was made possible, in part, by a transformative, unrestricted $70 million gift from philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist last year. The donation will help The Lundquist Institute continue to evolve as a hub for the Los Angeles area’s growth as the next great bioscience cluster, helping to recruit top-tier research scientists.

“I am honored to welcome Drs. Yan, Yoshihara, Nih, Wang, Al Alam and Jendzjowsky to The Lundquist Institute,” said David Meyer, PhD, President and CEO at The Lundquist Institute. “Being able to convince just one of this distinguished group to bring his or her research to our campus would have been a huge victory in itself, but to have all six in our labs is truly special. It shows that The Lundquist Institute is committed to leading the way in innovation, with six new first-class researchers making our team that much stronger.”

The Lundquist Institute has a long history of innovation, as its researchers are responsible for seminal inventions like the paramedic training protocol. That tradition has only grown, as the institute’s scientists have received three FDA approvals in the last five years and its new, cutting-edge facilities help serve as a magnet in attracting talented investigators to a growing life sciences hub.