Hoy Shen selected as Rita Allen Foundation Scholar

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Yale scientist Hongying (Hoy) Shen has been selected as a 2023 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, it has been annoucnced. The award recognizes early-career leaders in the biomedical sciences whose research holds exceptional promise for revealing new pathways to advance human health.

An assistant professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Shen’s research at the Yale Systems Biology Institute uses multidisciplinary approaches to study the cellular metabolism underlying human health and diseases.

The nervous system harbors numerous metabolic enzymes and transporters that play important roles in brain physiology, but they remain poorly understood. The Shen laboratory at Yale’s West Campus has devised a suite of mass spectrometry metabolomics-based biochemistry methods, combining in vitro activity-based metabolomics with neuronal cellular metabolomics screening, to simultaneously investigate multiple disease-associated genes in a multiplexed format.

The scholarship will enable Shen to focus on the “deorphanization” of hundreds of enzymes and transporters of unknown functions that are encoded in the human genome and are important to cellular and organismal physiology. Focusing on disease-associated genes could yield insights into the pathologies of brain disorders and facilitate the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

“Support from the Rita Allen Foundation is invaluable in helping us accelerate our investigation of multiple disease-associated genes, redirecting our focus towards the nervous system and new avenues of translational research,” said Shen.

Since 1976, the Rita Allen Foundation has invested in more than 200 biomedical scientists at the early stages of their careers, enabling them to pursue research directions with above-average risk and promise.

The selected scholars receive up to five years’ funding to conduct innovative research on critical topics in cancer, immunology, neuroscience, and pain.

Hoy Shen received a B.S. in chemistry from Nanjing University in China in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B) at Yale University in 2013, where she studied membrane curvature formation and lipid metabolism in endocytic trafficking in the laboratory of Pietro De Camilli at the Department of Cell Biology. She completed postdoctoral training with Vamsi Mootha at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School to develop integrated metabolomics and CRISPR screen approaches to study mitochondrial metabolism. Shen has been a member of faculty at Yale since 2020.

By Jon Atherton