Faculty and Research
Heitman Lab Members
315 CARL Building
Box 3546 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710
I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees from National Pingtung Polytechnic Institute and National Taiwan University, respectively. While in college, I worked with Dr. Yung-Chun Chao and studied the roles of the plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens in controlling the growth of eggplant and in inhibiting the bacterial wilt pathogen, Pseudomonas solanacearum. While pursuing my M.S. degree, I worked with Dr. Ya-Chun Chang to characterize the plant potyvirus, Dasheen mosaic virus, in the calla lily. Prior to earning my PhD degree in the United States, I served in the army and also worked with Dr. Mei-Hwei Chang at National Taiwan University Hospital conducting hepatitis B virus research and Asia Hepato Gene, Inc. conducting Immunoglobin IgY antibody studies.
In the fall of 2004, I began my studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and joined Dr. Todd Reynolds' lab to investigate the roles of phospholipid biosynthesis in Candida albicans virulence. In May 2009, I received my PhD in microbiology from UT. My research showed that de novo biosynthesis of phosphatidylserine (PS) is essential for virulence, and due to the lack of a mammalian homolog, PS synthase is a novel drug target. My studies also demonstrated that C. albicans has two equally effective mechanisms for obtaining inositol while in the host. It can either generate inositol de novo through Ino1p, or it can be imported from the host through the inositol transporter Itr1p.
In August 2008, I attended the Molecular Mycology (MOMY) course at Woods Hole. Then, in June 2009, I joined the Heitman lab to continue my research in fungal signaling pathway and pathogenesis. My research focuses on 1) dissecting the calcineurin pathway in emerging Candida and Cryptococcus species; and 2) validating combination antifungal drug targets and approaches in Candida and Cryptococcus species.
Zhang J, Silao FGS, Bigol UG, Bungay AC, Nicolas MG, *Heitman J, *Chen YL. (2012) Calcineurin is required for pseudohyphal growth, virulence, and drug resistance in Candida lusitaniae. PLoS ONE (in press). [*Co-corresponding author]
Chen YL, Konieczka JH, Springer DJ, Bowen SE, Zhang J, Silao FGS, Bungay AAC, Bigol UG, Nicolas MG, Abraham SN, Thompson DA, Regev A, Heitman J. (2012) Convergent evolution of calcineurin pathway roles in thermotolerance and virulence in Candida glabrata.G3 (Bethesda) 2:675-691. [Featured on the cover].
Singh-Babak SD, Babak T, Diezmann S, Hill JA, Xie JL, Chen YL, Poutanen SM, Rennie RP, Heitman J, and Cowen LE. (2012) Global analysis of the evolution and mechanism of echinocandin resistance in Candida glabrata. PLoS Pathogens 8(5):e1002718.
Zhang J, Heitman J*, Chen YL*. (2011) Comparative analysis of calcineurin signaling between Candida dubliniensis and Candida albicans. Communicative & Integrative Biology 5(2):122-126. [Featured on the cover] [*Co-corresponding author]
Cheon S, Jung KW, Chen YL, Heitman J, Bahn YS, Kang H. (2011) Unique Evolution of the UPR Pathway with a Novel bZIP Transcription Factor, Hxl1, for Controlling Pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans. PLoS Pathogens 7(8):e1002177.
Chen YL, Brand A, Morrison E, Silao F, Bigol U, Malbas F, Nett J, Andes D, Solis N, Filler S, Averette A, Heitman J. (2011) Calcineurin controls drug tolerance, hyphal growth and virulence in Candida dubliniensis. Eukaryotic Cell 10:803-819.
Chen YL, Kozubowski L, Cardenas ME, Heitman J. (2010) On the roles of calcineurin in fungal growth and pathogenesis. Current Fungal Infection Reports 4:244-255.
Chen YL, Montedonico AE, Kauffman S, Dunlap JR, Menn FM, Reynolds TB. (2010) Phosphatidylserine synthase and phosphatidylethanolamine decarboxylase are essential for cell wall integrity and virulence in Candida albicans. Molecular Microbiology 75:1112-1132.
Chen YL, Kauffman S, Reynolds TB. (2008) Candida albicans uses multiple mechanisms to acquire the essential metabolite inositol during infection. Infection and Immunity 76:2793-2801.
Huang HP, Tsuei DJ, Wang KJ, Chen YL, Ni YH, Jeng YM, Chen HL, Hsu HY, Chang MH. (2005) Differential integration rates of hepatitis B virus DNA in the liver of children with chronic hepatitis B virus infection and hepatocellular carcinoma. J. Gastroenterology & Hepatology 20:1206-1214.
Chang YC, Chen YL, Chung FC. (2001) Mosaic disease of calla lily caused by a new potyvirus in Taiwan. Plant Disease 85:1289.
"Role of calcineurin in virulence of Candida species that frequently infect patients with AIDS" Principal investigator. Agency: CFAR grant (NIH-funded Center For AIDS Research at Duke University, 2P30 AI64518-06). (2011-2012).
"Validation of combination antifungal drug targets and approaches in Candida albicans isolates susceptible and resistant to caspofungin in murine models". Co-investigator. Agency: Merck & Co., Inc. (2011-2012).
"Targeting calcineurin to develop novel antifungal drug combinations for human-pathogenic Candida species". Co-investigator. Agency: Astellas Pharma Inc. (2011-2012).
"Calcineurin as a drug target in pathogenic Candida species". Co-investigator. Agency: Duke University. (2011-2013).
"A combination therapy approach to treating drug resistant fungal infections". Co-investigator. Agency: NIH R43 (SBIR grant with Amplyx Pharma Inc.) (2011-2013).
"A Computer Modeling Approach to Create an Antifungal to Improve the Treatment of Cryptoccal Meningitis". Co-investigator (PI: Mitchell Mutz). Agency: NIH R43 (1R43NS079204-01A1; SBIR grant with Amplyx Pharma Inc.) (2012-2014)
"A Structural Approach for Treating Drug Resistant Fungal Pathogens". Co-investigator (PI: Mitchell Mutz). Agency: NIH R43 (1R43AI098300-01A1; SBIR grant with Amplyx Pharma Inc.) (2012-2014)
2010 Meritorious Research Travel Award (Duke University)
2008 Science Alliance Award to outstanding graduate student (University of Tennessee)
2008 Woods Hole Scholarship for 'Molecular Mycology' course (Excellence award for in vivo research)
2008 Eukaryotic Cell Outstanding Young Investigator Award (9th ASM Candida and Candidiasis)
2008 David White Memorial Award (University of Tennessee)
2008 Graduate Student Travel Grant (9th ASM Candida and Candidiasis)
2008 Graduate Student Senate Travel Fund Award (University of Tennessee)
2006 Graduate Student Senate Travel Fund Award (University of Tennessee)
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