Yang Mao-Draayer, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology, Multiple Sclerosis Center/ Holtom-Garrett Neuroimmunology Program
Accepting Students

Biography

Dr. Mao-Draayer completed medical school at the Capital Institute of Medicine in Beijing, China, and her doctoral degree from the University of Iowa.  She completed Neuroimmunology/Multiple Sclerosis fellowship after neurology residency training at the University of Vermont. She joined the Multiple Sclerosis Program at UM in June 2012, after serving as an Assistant Professor at the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, where she has involved in several clinical trials of new types of therapy for various stages of MS.  Her research is directed at understanding the immunologic and neurobiologic mechanisms in MS and applying novel therapeutics in MS.

Research Interests

Most of our work focuses on the human disease multiple sclerosis (MS, the second most common cause of neurological disability in young adults) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Our laboratory studies interactions between the immune and nervous systems in the context of autoimmune demyelinating disease.  We pose questions about the influence of the CNS microenvironment on the development of local inflammatory responses and, conversely, about the influence of immune mediators on neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) survival and regeneration/ repair.

One part of our laboratory is devoted to human immunological studies, involving the analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cell, T and B cells that are collected from patients with MS or other neurological diseases and healthy controls. Currently we are investigating the relationship between the expression of neurotrophins, MS disease activity and various disease modifying treatment effects.

We are investigating the mechanisms by which leukocyte subsets and cytokines interact with NPCs in the repair process; specifically, we are studying the effects of various T cells (Th1, Th17, Th2, Treg) on CNS progenitor cells and axonal regrowth pathways that could affect attempts to repair damaged CNS tissues.

We are also investigating the culture conditions that promote optimal survival and differentiation of the oligodendrocyte lineage from human and mouse NPCs. We will also be testing potential therapeutic agents in NPC system and subsequently in EAE.  Our long-term goal is to apply novel neuroprotective therapeutic agents in human clinical trials for MS patients.

Research Opportunities for Rotating Students

Our mission is to bridge basic research in neurobiology and immunology with human studies of neurological and immune-mediated diseases. We complement and extend basic lab initiatives into pre-clinical and clinical studies of human autoimmune disease. As the primary lead lab of the Clinical Autoimmune Center of Excellence at UM, we pursue bench-to-bedside-and-back translational and clinical studies in MS.

Most of our work focuses on MS (the second most common cause of neurological disability in young adults) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Our laboratory studies interactions between the immune and nervous systems in the context of autoimmune demyelinating diseases. We pose questions about the influence of the CNS microenvironment on the development of local inflammatory responses and, conversely, about the influence of immune mediators on neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) survival and regeneration/repair.

One part of our laboratory is devoted to human immunological studies, involving the analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and T and B cells that are collected from patients with MS or other neurological diseases. Currently we are investigating the relationship between the expression of neurotrophins and immune markers in MS disease activity. In addition, patients' samples will be studied for early/initiating disease mechanisms, various disease modifying treatment effects, and novel biomarkers of disease activity and prognosis.

Publications