The University of Kentucky College of Medicine is pleased to announce its selection of Tianyan Gao, PhD, as acting chair of the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry.

Dr. Gao has dedicated more than a decade to the UK College of Medicine as an educator and researcher, mentoring several students, post-docs, and residents over the years while obtaining substantial funding from the National Institutes of Health and other major organizations.

She is currently a professor in the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry and is an investigator at Markey Cancer Center, Kentucky’s only NCI-designated center.

Dr. Gao’s research lab studies protein phosphatases (PHLPP) and how they function in suppressing cancer development and progression, with a long-term goal of understanding the physiological function of PHLPP and the molecular mechanisms underlying PHLPP-mediated regulation in cancer. Her lab also focuses on cancer metabolism.

As a nationally recognized leader in cancer research, Dr. Gao utilizes her expertise to address some of the most significant health threats to Kentuckians, including gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Dr. Gao serves as co-principal investigator of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Gastrointestinal Cancers Alliance, a team within the Alliance Research Initiative working to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

After completing her Bachelor of Science at Beijing Medical University, Dr. Gao earned her PhD at Northwestern University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California San Diego.

The college would like to thank Rebecca Dutch, PhD, for her outstanding service as chair of the department since 2018 until she transitioned to the role of vice dean for research this summer.

“Our department of molecular and cellular biochemistry conducts cutting-edge studies producing innovative discoveries and also is home to outstanding educational efforts at multiple levels,” Dr. Dutch said. “Dr. Gao has been an integral part of our team in both research and education, and she will continue our department’s upward trajectory as acting chair.”