Current Lab Members

Andrew S. Yoo, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Developmental Biology

Andrew joined WashU as a faculty in 2011. He has a long-standing interest in understanding microRNAs in defining and controlling neuronal cell fate, and devising cellular reprogramming approaches to generate human neurons for modeling late-onset neurodegenerative disorders with patient-derived cells. He lives in Clayton, MO with his small family comprised of his wife and daughter. He is also an avid music lover, and enjoys playing electric guitar and admiring the fine craftsmanship of modern guitars.

Yangjian Liu, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Yangjian has a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University.  He is interested in understanding the function of miRNAs in cell fate switching during miR-9/9*-124 mediated conversion of human fibroblasts into neurons. He is also converting fibroblasts into various subtypes of neurons for modeling human neuronal diseases using miR-9/9*-124 combining with transcription factors.

Seongwon Lee, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Seongwon joined the Yoo lab after receiving his Ph.D. degree from Seoul National University. His graduate work focused on mechanisms governing protein stability control and p53 activities. Seongwon now focuses on neurogenic pathways downstream of microRNAs through protein stability control and revealing mechanisms underlying microRNA-mediated neuronal reprogramming. Outside the lab, Seongwon enjoys his life as a father of two young daughters as well as listening to hardcore heavy metal music. 

Youngmi Oh, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Youngmi has a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Seoul National University. In the Yoo lab, she is examining the difference of age and genetic factors by investigating the properties of reprogrammed from Huntington’s Disease-fibroblasts sampled before or after disease onset.  She loves making Korean food and spending time with her family.

Wookyung Kim, Ph.D.


Wookyung got her Ph.D. in Molecular medicine from Gachon University where she profiled the transcriptome of neural stem cell differentiation models and studied the mechanism of post-transcriptional regulation based on sequencing technologies. In the Yoo Lab, she studies the epigenetic changes in miRNA-mediated neuronal conversion and Huntington’s Disease models. She loves cats and Thai food.

Vicky Church, Ph.D.


Vicky got her Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics where she studied mechanisms of miRNA biogenesis. In the Yoo lab she is studying genetic networks that underlie various cell types of the brain, and how these are perturbed during aging and in neurodegenerative disease. She practices yoga daily and loves scuba-diving.   

Zhao Sun, Ph.D.


Zhao received his Ph.D. from University of Iowa for identifying new molecular mechanisms controlling mouse dental stem cell behavior in development and disease. In January 2019, he joined Yoo lab and aims to generate patient-derived neurons in 3-dimensional culture to model adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders. He is a father of two kids and he loves to spend time with family.

David Butler, MD

Assistant Professor; Department of Pediatrics Division of Critical Care

Dave is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Critical Care Medicine at WashU and provides care for critically ill children at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. During fellowship, he studied the effects of hemorrhage on cerebellar developmental programming. In the Yoo Lab, he is studying mechanisms of neuronal injury and repair, with a specific focus on how age alters these pathways. He enjoys fly fishing, cycling, and spending time with his wife, two cats (Remy & Ferris), and dog (Duncan).

Thomas Mahan, Ph.D.


Tom received his Ph.D in Neuroscience from WashU where he studied the impact of APOE on the development of Alzheimer disease pathology. Tom Joined the Yoo lab in January of 2022 and is studying how aging influences the development of Alzheimer disease in individuals with Down syndrome. He is the father of three boys and when not busy spending time with his family he enjoys exercising and playing sports

Eva Klinman, M.D., Ph.D.

Resident, Department of Neurology

Eva is finishing her neurology residency at WashU and preparing to start a fellowship in movement disorders. During her PhD at UPenn she studied organelle transport and microtubule motor proteins in an ALS system. In the Yoo lab she is studying the contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction and cytoskeletal disarray to the onset and progression of neurodegeneration. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her puppy (Midna), her 30+ freshwater fish, and painting fun designs on her nails.

Kitra Cates

Graduate Student; Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Kitra received a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) where she analyzed transcription factor binding events integral to early soybean and maize development. Now, she studies the epigenetic factors that drive cell fate erasure and neuronal conversion during miRNA-9/9*-124 reprogramming. When she is not in lab, she enjoys jamming out at concerts, learning different languages, and trying to get some sunshine every now and then.

Lucia Capano

Graduate Student; Molecular and Cell Biology

Lucia got a B.S. in Biology and Neuroscience from Brandeis University where she studied the role of a neuronal transcription factor on the homeostasis of the neocortex. In the Yoo Lab, she studies the age-associated component of tauopathies and regulators of tau splicing. She loves traveling, is an avid runner, and has trained her cat to do tricks.

Kyle Burbach

Graduate Student; Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Kyle has a BS in Genetics and Genomics from UC Davis where he studied the importance of human specific duplicated genes by knocking them out in zebrafish using CRISPR. Kyle now studies the roles of developmental signaling pathways during direct reprogramming to neurons. He is the proud owner of two Corgis and is a major video gamer.

Shivani Aryal

Graduate Student; Neuroscience

Shivani got a B.A. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Wesleyan College. She did her post-bac at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research where she studied the regulation of cell fate in airway epithelial cells. In the Yoo Lab, she is studying the genetics underlying X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism in patient-derived neurons. In addition to the experiments in her lab, she loves to experiment with cooking in her free time and travel.

Ji-Sun Kwon

Graduate Student; Computational and Systems Biology

In the Yoo Lab, Ji-Sun is studying novel genetic and transcriptional identifiers of Huntington’s Disease.

Yudong Ren

Graduate Student; Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Yudong received his B.S in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Illinois where he studied the role of bacteria in the pathology of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and the use of biogenetic engineering to improve crop photosynthetic efficiency. Yudong is interested in the study of aging and longevity, and his goal is to find out the root causes of the aging process in hopes of extending his life and that of his family. Outside of the Yoo lab, his interests are playing the guitar and watching movies, and he enjoys attending live music events.

Mini Yuan

Graduate Student; Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Mini received a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University where she studied chromatin modifiers in stochastic photoreceptor differentiation in the fruit fly retina. In the Yoo Lab, she is interested in the cell fate plasticity during microRNA-induced direct neuronal conversion. Outside of lab, if mentally and physically able == True: Mini shall be found in the rock climbing gym; else: Mini is passed out with her cat, Nico.

Yan Yang, MD

Lab Manager/Research Specialist

Yan graduated from medical school in China. She has been studing cell membrane ion channel (K+ and Ca2+ ) characteristics under physiological and pathophysiological conditions (including animal disease models of hyperlipidemia, hypertension and diabetes) since 1999 in the USA. Now in the Yoo Lab, she detects electrophysiological properties in microRNA-induced directly reprogrammed neurons and primary neurons. Yan enjoys cooking and community services. 

Former Lab Members

Shawei Chen, M.D.

Lab Manager/Senior Research Technician

Shawei graduated from medical school in Shanghai last centuryAfter finishing residency training, he enrolled in a geriatrics program in Chinese Traditional Medicine in Shanghai. He studied elements extracted from natural herbs as medicine to treat some models of dementia (vascular or Alzheimer’s). He is very interested in the area of neurodegenerative cell models and eager to find some effective compound to treat patients suffering from neurodegenerative disease.

Yalin Lu, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Graduate; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology

Ya-Lin got her B.A. in Biology from Knox College where she studied small non-coding RNAs in social amoeba. She then went on to work on non-coding RNAs in motor neuron development at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. In the Yoo lab, she studies the mechanism of neural fate acquisition using the direct neuronal conversion paradigm. She loves anything and everything related to cats, manatees, and traveling.

Ilya Strunilin

Graduate Student; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology

Ilya got his B.S. in Biology and Biophysics from Duke University where he studied transcriptional factors regulating plant root stem cell differentiation. In the Yoo lab, he studies the mechanism of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s Disease. He loves electronic music and traveling.

Josh Ho, M.S.

Masters Graduate; Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology

Josh got his B.A. in Biology from Vanderbilt University where he worked on the differentiation of cardiomyocytes from ESCs using small molecule inhibitors. In the Yoo lab, he studies the role of miRNAs in cell cycle exit during the direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into neurons. He loves cooking and corgis.

Danny Abernathy, Ph.D

Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology

Currently a Post-doc at Harvard University

Christine Huh, Ph.D

Molecular Cell Biology

Currently a Post-doc at UCSD

Michelle Richner


Currently at University of Illinois Chicago

Matheus Victor, Ph.D


Currently a post-doc at MIT

Matthew McCoy, Ph.D

Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Currently a post-doc at Stanford

Hannah Olsen

Undergrad – Biochemistry

Currently at Harvard Medical School

Joongho Kim

Research Specialist