2016-Present: Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine
2014-2015: Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
2008-2016: Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, Technion Israel Institute of Technology
2004-2008: Postdoctoral fellow, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, Harvard University
2002-2004: Koshland Scholar, Molecular Genetics Department, Weizmann Institute of Science
2002: PhD in Bioinformatics, Boston University
1997: Bachelor of Sciences (Computer Engineering) and Arts (Philosophy of Science), Boston University
Itai Yanai joined the faculty at New York University’s School of Medicine in May 2016 as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He serves as the inaugural director of the Institute for Computational Medicine (ICM), whose goal is to harness computational approaches for fundamental and medically-relevant discoveries. Through the development of novel tools, the nurturing of young investigators, and translational applications, ICM aims to create a culture that promotes scientific advancements.
Dr. Yanai’s research focuses on the interface of gene expression, development, and evolution. Using his training as an experimental embryologist, a molecular biologist, and a computational biologist, his interest is exploring how developmental pathways evolve at the molecular level. Members of his lab carry out intricate embryological experiments at the level of individual cells and apply computational approaches to explore the resulting data. As a model system, they use the best understood animal, the nematode C. elegans. His lab developed the popular CEL-Seq method for single-cell RNA-Seq and they have used it to study stages, germ-layers, and body-plans in animal embryos. More recently, his lab is applying single-cell RNA-Seq to the study of tumorigenesis and bacterial infection.
Dr. Yanai received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and the Philosophy of Science and his PhD in Bioinformatics from Boston University in 1997 and 2002, respectively. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics in 2004 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a postdoctoral fellowship in Developmental Genetics at Harvard University in 2008. He served as adjunct Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics at Boston University from 2004-2008. At the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology from 2008-2013 and Associate Professor from 2014-2016. He was a Radcliffe Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and a visiting professor, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, from 2014-2015.
In addition to his research goals, Dr. Yanai firmly believes that the communication of knowledge is a major component of science and is involved in mentoring students, giving presentations, participating in outreach programs and in the dissemination of science to a popular audience. Towards this end, Dr. Yanai has also recently co-authored a popular science book, entitled “The Society of Genes”, along with Dr. Martin Lercher from Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf.
Dr. Marta Chiodin, Research Scientist
I am a molecular biologist, I obtained a M.Sc from the University of Padua and a PhD from the University of Barcelona. During my scientific career I have been studying the developmental processes that underlie the evolution of animals. At the Institute of Molecular Medicine, in addition to managing Dr. Yanai’s lab, I will apply evolutionary thinking to study disease.
Dr. Gustavo S. França, Postdoctoral Fellow
I joined Dr. Yanai’s lab in the summer of 2016. I did my undergraduate studies in Biology and obtained M.Sc and PhD degrees in Molecular Biology from the University of Sao Paulo – Brazil. I have been using bioinformatics approaches to understand the transcriptome complexity through evolutionary perspectives.
Dr. Florian Wagner, Postdoctoral Fellow
I am a computational biologist with a PhD in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics from Duke University, and a Master in Biology from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. Itai first introduced me to computational biology as my master’s thesis advisor, and has been a mentor to me ever since. As a master’s student, I was involved in the development of the CEL-Seq protocol for performing single-cell RNA-Seq. As part of my PhD dissertation work, I developed GO-PCA, a versatile and powerful method for exploratory gene expression analysis using prior knowledge. My main research interest lies in the development and application of computational and statistical tools to help improve our understanding of gene regulatory processes. My current research focuses on elucidating the molecular underpinnings of cancer patients’ responses to checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies using single-cell RNA-Seq.
Dr. Gal Avital, Postdoctoral Fellow
I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Itai Yanai’s lab studying host-pathogen interactions. During my PhD at the Technion I focused on understanding the roles of different RNA classes in dynamic processes. I received my B.Sc and M.Sc in Life Sciences from Ben Gurion University, studying the evolutionary forces acting on the mitochondria population in the cell.
Maayan Baron, PhD student
I’m a PhD student studying cancer evolution in Zebrafish at a single-cell resolution. I’m interested in creating a gene expression time-course for tumor progression. I received my B.Sc and M.Sc in Biotechnology engineering from Ben-Gurion University investigating bacteriophage-bacteria interactions and co-evolution.
Bo Xia, PhD student
I did my undergraduate studies of biological sciences in China Agricultural University. Before joining the graduate program of Sackler Institute at NYU School of Medicine in 2015, I spent nearly three years in Dr. Chengqi Yi’s lab in Peking University, working on developing chemical tools for genome-wide analysis of DNA epigenetic modifications. I joined Dr. Itai Yanai’s lab in the summer of 2016, soon after he moved to NYU, and I will be co-advised by Dr. Jef Boeke. I’m interested in developing and using novel high-throughput tools to study the fascinating nature of genome and transcriptome. In Dr. Yanai’s lab, I will work on exploring the regulatory roles of chromatin-associated non-coding RNAs across developmental stages.
Reuben Moncada, PhD student
Before joining the Yanai lab as a PhD student in the Summer of 2017, I received my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Vassar College. In the Yanai lab, I am interested in applying spatially resolved transcriptomic methods to understand the diseased state in different tissues.
Felicia Kuperwaser, PhD student
I’m a graduate student in the Yanai lab interested in temporal dynamics of the immune response in inflammatory disease and infection. I graduated from Brandeis University with a BSc in neuroscience in 2013. Before starting grad school, I worked for three years in Dr. Andrew Lichtman’s lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigating T lymphocyte responses in cardiovascular disease.
Dalia Barkley, MD/PhD Student
I am an PhD student in the Yanai lab and am interested in studying cancer evolution at the single-cell level. Before joining the MD/PhD program at NYU, I obtained my undergraduate degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris and my master’s in Computational Biology from the University of Cambridge.
Yun Yan, Computational research associate
In 2013 I got my Master degree in molecular biology studying RNA alternative splicing under supervision of Prof. Xiang-dong Fu at Wuhan University, China. As a Master student majoring in computer science at NYU Tandon School of Engineering since 2015, I am excited to explore unprecedentedly high-dimensional dataset generated by single-cell sequencing.
Dr. Tamar Hashimshony, Lab Manager
Tamar served as our amazing lab manager at the Technion. She graduated from the Technion’s Biology Faculty in 1996 and later received her MSc and PhD degrees from the Hebrew University’s medical school under the guidance of Prof. Howard Cedar. Her post-doctoral work as a HFSP fellow was done in the lab of Prof. Harinder Singh at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Vladislav Grishkevich
Dr. Michal Levin
Dr. Harel Zalts
Dafna Yaron Gurevich
Postdocs and Research Associates:
Dr. Alison G. Cole
Dr. Noa Sher
Dr. Itai Sharon
Dr. Eitan Winter
Dr. Dov Hershkovitz
The Yanai lab began in Israel in 2008 at the Department of Biology in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The lab moved to NYU in 2016. Below are images of members of the Yanai Lab at the Technion.