Faculty Profile

Dr. Yunlei Yang, M.D.,  Ph.D.

Yunlei Yang, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine (Endocrinology)

Associate Professor, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience

Areas of Research: The focus of Dr. Yang's research is to study glial and neural mechanisms of obesity and affective behaviors by using systems neuroscience methods and metabolic assays, including chemo/optogenetics and electrophysiology

Professional Interests

Obesity and its associated complications impose a huge burden to our society. However, the mechanisms underlying this disorder and its related pathologies remain unclear, and effective treatments are still lacking. At its core, obesity results from an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Most work has focused on neural regulation of energy balance, however, an important but poorly understood element is the roles played by astrocytes in the regulation of energy states although they play crucial functions in regulating synaptic strength and neural activity. 

Dr. Yang is interested in dissecting and manipulating central and peripheral signaling pathways that govern energy balance and glucose metabolism in normal and obese animals using genetic and systems neuroscience methods that include cell-type-specific electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemical-genetics, deep-brain measurements of neurochemicals, imaging, and behavior assays. 

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Sweeney p, Li C, Yang Y (2017). Appetite suppressive role of medial septal glutamatergic neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 114(52):13816-13821. PMID:29229861 Highlighted in Nature.

Sweeney P, Yang Y (2017). Neural Circuit Mechanisms Underlying Emotional Regulation of Homeostatic Feeding. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 28(6):437-448. Review. PMID:28279562.

Sweeney P, O'Hara K, Xu Z, Yang Y (2017). HFD-induced energy-states-dependent bidirectional control of anxiety levels in mice. Int J Obes (Lond). 41(8):1237-1245. PMID:28465604.

Sweeney P, Yang Y (2016). An Inhibitory Septum to Lateral Hypothalamus Circuit That Suppresses Feeding. J Neurosci. 36(44):11185-11195. PMID:27807162. Featured Article.

Sweeney p, Qi Y, Xu Z, Yang Y (2016). Activation of hypothalamic astrocytes suppresses feeding without altering emotional states. Glia. 64(12):2263-2273. PMID:27658520.

Sweeney P, Yang Y (2015). An excitatory ventral hippocampus to lateral septum circuit that suppresses feeding. Nat Commun. 6:10188. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10188. PMID: 26666960. Featured in Faculty 1000Prime.

Qi Y, Yang Y (2015). Hunger States Control the Directions of Synaptic Plasticity via Switching Cell Type-Specific Subunits of NMDA Receptors. J Neurosci. 35(38):13171-82. PMID: 26400946.

Yang Y, Lee P, Sternson SM (2015). Cell type-specific pharmacology of NMDA receptors using masked MK801. Elife. 4. doi:10.7554/eLife.10206. PMID: 26359633.

Yang L, Qi Y, Yang Y (2015). Astrocytes control food intake by inhibiting AGRP neuron activity via adenosine A1 receptors. Cell Rep. 11(5):798-807 PMID: 25921535. Highlighted in Cell press. 

Tian L, Yang Y, Wysocki LM, Arnold AC, Hu A, Ravichandran B, Sternson SM, Looger LL, Lavis LD (2012). Selective esterase-ester pair for targeting smallmolecules with cellular specificity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(13):4756-61. PMID:22411832. Featured in Faculty 1000Prime.

Yang Y, Atasoy D, Su HH, Sternson SM (2011). Hunger states switch a flip-flop memory circuit via a synaptic AMPK-dependent positive feedback loop. Cell. 146(6):992-1003. PMID:21925320. Featured in Cell and Cell Metabolism.

Yang Y, Wang XB, Zhou Q (2010). Perisynaptic GluR2-lacking AMPA receptors control the reversibility of synaptic and spines modifications. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(26):11999-2004. PMID: 20547835. Featured in This Journal.

Yang Y, Wang XB, Frerking M, Zhou Q (2008). Delivery of AMPA receptors to perisynaptic sites precedes the full expression of long-term potentiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 105(32):11388-93. PMID:18682558 

Yang Y, Wang XB, Frerking M, Zhou Q (2008). Spine expansion and stabilization associated with long-term potentiation. J Neurosci. 28(22):5740-51. PMID:18509035.

Wang XB, Yang Y, Zhou Q (2007). Independent expression of synaptic and morphological plasticity associated with long-term depression. J Neurosci. 27(45):12419-29. PMID:17989307. Featured Article.

Yang Y, Ge W, Chen Y, Zhang Z, Shen W, Wu C, Poo M, Duan S (2003). Contribution of astrocytes to hippocampal long-term potentiation through release of D-serine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100(25):15194-9. PMID:14638938.


Cell CrossTalk: Eating and the brain: Glial cells enter the fray

Anxiety.org: Anxious? Drink coffee and focus on something

Upstate With Distinction: Neuroscience student explores link between emotion and appetite

Research Highlights in Nature: Appetite Drop Off After Brain Region Fires


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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Forchheimer Building, Room 529A
Bronx, NY 10461

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Fax: 718.430.8557

Research Information