Wei Yan, Ph.D.


Contact Information


  • Ph.D., University of Turku, Finland, 2000
  • M.D., China Medical University, Shenyang, China, 1990


Professional Appointments

  • Professor (2013-present): Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV
  • Associate Professor (2009-2012, tenured): Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV
  • Laboratory Director (2004-2011): Andrology Lab, Northern Nevada Women’s Health Specialists, Reno, NV
  • Assistant Professor (2004-2008, tenure-track): Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV
  • Instructor (2003-2004): Department of Pathology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Awards & Honors

  • 2013 The Nevada Healthcare Hero Award by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Nevada Business Magazine
  • 2012 The American Society of Andrology Young Andrologist Award
  • 2009 The Nevada High Education System Regents’ Rising Researcher Award
  • 2010 Plenary speaker in Gordon Research Conference on Mammalian Gametogenesis and Embryogenesis, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
  • 2009 The Society for the Study of Reproduction Young Investigator Award

Research Interests

Genetic and epigenetic control of gametogenesis and early development.

We are interested in how gametes, sperm and oocytes, are produced in mammals. In particular, we investigate which of the germ cell-specific genes are essential for successful production of gametes and which particular molecular pathways they are involved in. We utilize gene knockout technologies and molecular biology approaches to define physiological roles of these genes and the molecular mechanisms by which they regulate germ cell development.

Current projects include:

  1. the role of autophagy and ubiquitination during spermatogenesis,
  2. the mechanism of cytoplasm removal during spermiogenesis,
  3. the role of noncoding RNAs in the regulation of gametogenesis, fertilization and early embryonic development, and
  4. noncoding RNAs-mediated epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.

Courses Taught

  • Gross Anatomy
  • Embryology
  • Histology
  • System Physiology
  • Molecular and Cell Biology

Selected Publications

Recent Publications

  • Zheng H, Stratton CJ, Morozumi K, Jin J, Yanagimachi R, Yan W (2007) Lack of Spem1 causes aberrant cytoplasm removal, sperm deformation and male infertility. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104:6852-6857
  • Ro S, Park C, Young D, Sanders KM, Yan W (2007) Tissue-dependent paired expression of miRNAs. Nucleic Acids Research 35:5944-5953
  • Ro S, Park C, Young D, Sanders KM, McCarrey JR, Yan W (2007) Cloning and expression profiling of testis-expressed microRNAs Developmental Biology 311: 592-602
  • Song R, Michaels JD, Ro S, McCarrey JR, Yan W (2009) X-linked microRNAs escape meiotic sex chromosome inactivation. Nature Genetics 41:488-493
  • Song R, Hennig G, Wu Q, Jose C, Zheng H, Yan W (2011) Male germ cells express abundant endogenous siRNAs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 108:13159-64.
  • Wu Q, Song R, Ortogero N, Zheng H, Evanoff R, Small CL, Griswold MD, Namekawa SH, Royo H, Turner JM, Yan W (2012) The RNase III Enzyme DROSHA Is Essential for microRNA Production and Spermatogenesis. Journal of Biological Chemistry 287(30): 25173-25190.
  • Ro S, Ma HY, Park C, Ortogero N, Song R, Hennig GW, Zheng H, Lin YM, Moro L, Hsieh JT, Yan W (2013) The Mitochondrial Genome Encodes Abundant Small Noncoding RNAs. Cell Research 23,759-774. Published online on 12 March 2013, doi:10.1038/cr.2013.37
  • Bao J, Zhang Y, Schuster A, Ortogero N, Nilsson EE, Skinner MK, Yan W (2014) Conditional inactivation of Miwi2 reveals that MIWI2 is only essential for prospermatogonial development in mice. Cell Death and Differentiation Published online on 24 January 2014, doi:10.1038/cdd.2014