NYC lab photo


Itai Yanai, PI
Director, Institute for Computational Medicine
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
New York University, School of Medicine


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.

unnamedGal 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.

Anjali Rao, Postdoctoral Fellow
I am a post doctoral fellow in the Yanai lab using single cell genomics to study the role of transcriptionally heterogeneous cancer states driving tumor progression. During my PhD at Northwestern University, I studied the epigenetic regulation of maintenance of pluripotency of neural crest stem cells in the lab of  Dr. Carole LaBonne.
I got my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from SASTRA University in India.

gustavoGustavo 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.

Maayan Pour, Postdoctoral Fellow

I joined Dr. Yanai’s lab, as a postdoctoral fellow, in the fall of 2019. I’m interested in studying cell state transitions in development and disease, at the single-cell level. I did my Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University, focusing on cell fate decisions during stem cell differentiation.
I received my BSc in Biotechnology engineering from Ben-Gurion University.

Bo Xia, PhD studentPicture1.jpg

I’m fascinated by the genetic codes underlying human development, diseases and evolution. I did my undergraduate study in biological science in China Agricultural University. Before joining the graduate program at NYU School of Medicine in 2015, I worked with Dr. Chengqi Yi in Peking University and developed chemical tools for genome-wide analysis of DNA epigenetic modifications. At NYU, I’m fortunate to be co-mentored by Drs. Itai Yanai and Jef Boeke, allowing me to think broadly about our genome and its evolution. I’m combining both experimental approaches and computational tools to understand the genome evolution by point mutations and transposable elements. Ultimately, I hope to understand how integrated genetic changes modulate human development, behavior and evolution.

Reuben Moncada, PhD studentReubenPhoto
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.

feliciaFelicia 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.

Version 2Dalia 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.


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.

PhD students: 

Dr. Gal Avital
Dr. Maayan Baron
Dr. Vladislav Grishkevich
Dr. Michal Levin
Dr. Harel Zalts

Masters students:

Shay Ben-Elazar
Dr. Florian Wagner
Avital Polsky
Dr. Leon Anavy
Sally Khair
Natalya Mostov
Martin Feder
Naftalie Senderovich

Undergraduate students:

Yun Yan
Rachelly Normand
Katya Kovalev
Dafna Yaron Gurevich
David Silver
Ronny Beer

Postdocs and Research Associates:

Dr. Florian Wagner
Dr. Marta Chiodin, Lab Manager
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.

Technion lab.png
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