Yanxian Lin Completes His Ph.D. for "Elucidating the Driving Forces from Tau Molecules to Droplet"

Yanxian joined the Han Lab in 2015 after graduating from the prestigious Tsinghua University, China. Since then, his focus has been on the complex coacervation and amyloid aggregation of protein tau. Yanxian applies magnetic resonance-based techniques to probe conformation and dynamics of tau, polymer and colloid characterization on the properties of complex coacervates, and biochemical assays on amyloid aggregation. Yanxian's dissertation is on the topic "Elucidating the Driving Forces from Tau Molecules to Droplet". Tau protein binds and stabilizes microtubules in the neurons of human brain. Its aggregation into amyloid fibrils is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and associated with many other neurodegenerative diseases. Revealing its aggregation mechanism is key to understanding the disease progress and developing therapies. Tau is recently found by the Han Lab and others to form droplet, a condense, fluidic and dynamic structure resulting from liquid-liquid phase separation of proteins, RNA and other molecules. Droplet has been shown to promote amyloid aggregation of several other neurodegenerative disease-associated proteins including FUS and hnRNPA1. In the case of tau droplet, however, its principles and its relationship with tau aggregation are still unclear. During the defense, Yanxian has guided the audience through a tour to build physical models that explain the driving forces of tau forming droplets, and to use these models to inform new understandings of tau aggregation. After the five-year journey in the Han Lab, Yanxian will take on his dream job as a data scientist at Aetna in New York City. He will be greatly missed by all members of the Han Lab. Congratulations again, Dr. Yanxian Lin!

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