The Team

Shumei Song, MD, PhD


I am a Professor in Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, New Jersey. I received my PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Beijing Cancer Institute, Beijing University, China where my graduate work focus on the cloning and elucidating the functional role of the VEGF receptor KDR on tumor angiogenesis and tumor metastases in gastric cancer. After obtaining my Ph.D at 1999, I immediately pursue my postdoctoral fellowship in UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and focus on cancer biology in gastrointestinal cancers especially specifically in the esophagus, the area of the body where the esophagus joins the stomach, also known as the gastroesophageal (or GE) junction and gastric cancer. I have been gained extensive experience in gastrointestinal cancer biology, gene transcription and expression regulation, and molecular approaches to investigate the molecular mechanisms of GE junction and gastric cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis.  

As an independent investigator, my laboratory and the team are working to investigate the molecular mechanisms and novel targets focusing on how deregulation of Hippo/YAP signaling in mediating CSCs traits, therapy resistance and metastases in gastroesophageal cancers. One of the major projects in the laboratory is to decipher how Hippo/YAP/TAZ or other stem cell factors SOXs mediated immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments and the interaction among tumor cell, macrophage, CAFs and T cells for novel therapeutic strategies. The long-term goal is to develop YAP1/TAZ/TEAD inhibitors for targeted therapy of gastrointestinal cancers and discover novel target and immunotherapy in advanced GI tumors by fully exploring patients derived tissues/cells.  

Before Coriell, I was a Professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the University of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas where I focused on GI cancer research for more than 20 years.

    Yanting Zhang, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    I received my doctorate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology under Prof. Xian-hui He, Jinan University, where I studied the anti-melanoma effect of cucurbitacin B and its molecular mechanisms. My Ph.D. work has been highly cited and shed new light on the action mechanism of cucurbitacins and will benefit their application as anticancer agents targeting the actin cytoskeleton.

    After graduation, I pursued a postdoctoral fellowship and assisted Dr. Hancai Dan setting up a new lab for prostate cancer research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. After I moved to Houston, I gained many interesting findings in GI stem cell research using novel stem cell culture technology developed by the team of Prof. Frank McKeon. With the support of Dr. Jaffer A Ajani and Prof. Shumei Song, I collected the biopsies from cancer patients without any treatment and successfully cultured patient-matched stem cells of Barretts-Dysplasia-Adenocarcinoma Sequence. Meanwhile, we constructed very high-precision evolution maps of esophageal adenocarcinoma using these single cell derived stem cells. Based on this work, we received two fundings from the National Cancer Institute and set up a drug screen platform. Moreover, I also participated in cancer immunotherapy research under the guidance of Prof. Shuan Zhang.

    Before joining Coriell, I worked in Dr. Eric Jonash team for renal carcinoma research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  After publishing one DNA damaging related research, I made the decision to join Coriell to embark on a new chapter. With the full support of Prof. Song and Coriell colleague, I will work closely with our team members and try my best to build an excellent GI tract cancer research platform.

    In my free time, I enjoy repairing and maintenance of car or house, playing with two young kids, and playing some instruments (non-professional level, self-taught), such as Chinese flute, Harmonica, Erhu.

    Xiodan Yao, PhD

    Research Scientist

    I received my PhD in medical biochemistry from Gothenburg University, Sweden, and immigrated to Canada 1999. My research fields encompass molecular biology, virology, and immunology for more than 25 years. I have worked in the United States since 2019, and has focused on tumor biology/immunology.

    I currently work with Dr. Song and team, focusing on the interaction of cancer cells with cancer-associated-fibroblasts (CAF) and macrophages and T cell response by running variety experiments in vitro and mouse models in vivo. I'm exploring multiple molecules at immune suppressive checkpoints, including YAP1, TIM3, and DDK1, etc. to search mechanisms behind their complex actions on T cell immune responses. I'm also involved in immunotherapeutic experiments with neutralizing antibodies combined with novel target therapies.