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2020 Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Edward C. Kendall Award for Meritorious Research – Yang Chen, Ph.D.

Discovering mechanisms in & therapeutics for CV disease

  • “The impact of his research is high and, in my opinion, has truly advanced the biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology of the natriuretic peptide/cGMP signaling pathway in disease and therapeutics leading to breakthrough drug discovery, all headed toward ultimate human testing.” — John Burnett Jr., M.D. (I ’78, CV ’82), the Marriott Family Professor of Cardiovascular Research
  • “His translational projects will have profound impact on drug discovery and patient care.” — Patricia Pellikka, M.D. (MED ’83, CV ’89), the Betty Knight Scripps Professor of Cardiovascular Diseases Clinical Research Honoring George M. Gura Jr., M.D.
  • “The scientific accomplishments by Dr. Chen are novel, significant, far-reaching and of remarkable clinical relevance.” — Karl Nath, M.D. (NEPH ’96), the Robert Patnode Professor in Nephrology, editor-in-chief, Mayo Clinic Proceedings

If not for the advice of a Mayo Clinic alumnus, Yang Chen, Ph.D. (BMB ’18), probably wouldn’t have applied to Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. And Mayo wouldn’t have benefited from his innovative research in cardiovascular medicine.

When Dr. Chen was choosing graduate school programs to apply to, he says he was focused on big-name schools. In an online forum for students of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, Pengfei Song, Ph.D. (BME ’14, PHYS ’16), created a thread about Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and recommended the graduate school. Dr. Song is an alumnus of both institutions.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Song,” says Dr. Chen. “He told me Mayo has a small but great biomedical sciences graduate program. Without him, I wouldn’t have known about Mayo’s program and had the rare opportunities I’ve had at Mayo.”

Dr. Chen has something else in common with Dr. Song: They both received the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Edward C. Kendall Award for Meritorious Research – Dr. Chen in 2020 and Dr. Song in 2018. Dr. Song is now an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with his own ultrasound research laboratory.

Dr. Chen hopes to follow in Dr. Song’s footsteps and become an independent, successful investigator in academia. His pioneering work has significantly advanced the field of natriuretic peptide physiology and therapeutics for cardiovascular and renal injury and disease:

  • Investigates natriuretic peptide/particulate guanylyl cyclase receptor signaling and engineers designer natriuretic peptide activators as potential new drugs for cardiovascular and renal injury and disease
  • Studies protective molecular actions of natriuretic peptide and cGMP signaling in cellular death, fibrosis, adrenergic and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone suppression and miRNA regulation
  • Designed and characterized a novel natriuretic peptide therapeutic, CRRL269, targeting acute kidney injury; now under preparation for Investigational New Drug application
  • Demonstrated molecular mechanism of vascular smooth muscle cell calcium regulation and the inhibition of cell death by natriuretic peptides
  • Received American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship
  • Work presented at Heart Failure Society of American New Investigator Award and American College of Cardiology Young Investigator Award competitions
  • Published 11 peer-reviewed articles, two book chapters, and filed one patent
  • Work published in Circulation Research, American Journal of Physiology, Hypertension, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Journal of American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure

“My platform and track record look good, and I’m excited to continue the momentum and continue to do exciting research,” says Dr. Chen. “My goal is to find new therapies and help patients. I’m fortunate to have colleagues and mentors who have been so supportive to get me to this point, including the Kendall Award. I’m humbled and grateful.”


Yang Chen, Ph.D.

Research fellow, Cardiorenal Research Laboratory

Department of Cardiovascular Medicine

Instructor in Medicine

Mayo Clinic in Rochester

Graduate: Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate: Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China




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