Back to Main

Faculty Detail    
Campus Address WTI 320A Zip 3300
Phone  205-996-6228
Other websites

Medical School  China Medical University, China    1982  M.D. 
Graduate  Third Military Medical University, China     1989  PhD 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Pathology   Molecular & Cellular Pathology Associate Professor
Center  Center for Metabolic Bone Disease  Center for Metabolic Bone Disease Associate Professor
Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center Associate Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Ctr for Clinical & Translational Sci Associate Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cancer Biology 
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Medical Scientist Training Program 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
Dr. Yang received her M.D. degree from China Medical University and PhD degree from Third Military Medical University, China. She completed postdoctoral training and was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Yang joined the faculty of Department of Pathology at UAB in 2006. She is currently an Associate Professor and Principal Investigator in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Association for Cancer Research   Member   
American Association for Matrix   Member   
American Society for Bone and Mineral Research  Member   
American Society of Hematology   Member   
International Bone and Mineral Society   Member   

Research/Clinical Interest
Cancer-related bone diseases
My lab is focused on the role of syndecan-1, heparanase and Runx2 in multiple myeloma (MM), cancer-related bone diseases and the translational research of MM. MM is a B-lymphoid malignancy characterized by tumor cell infiltration of the bone marrow, osteolytic lesions, and angiogenesis in the vicinity of the tumor cells. Although new treatments have improved the outlook for patients with MM, it remains an incurable disease. (1) Syndecan-1 in myeloma. Syndecan-1 is the dominant heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycan expressed on the surface of MM cells and a marker of MM. Syndecam-1 can be shed from the MM cell surface and high levels of syndecan-1 in MM patient sera are an indicator of poor prognosis. We demonstrated that the shed syndecan-1 is not simply an indicator of poor prognosis, but it actively promotes the growth and dissemination of myeloma tumors. Moreover, we discovered that syndecan-1 shedding is stimulated by heparanase expressed in myeloma cells. These important discoveries have been published in Blood (2002) and JBC (2007), which have been cited numerous times in peer-reviewed journals. (2) Heparanase in MM and MM-related bone diseases. Heparanase-1 (heparanase) is an endo-beta-glucuronidase that specifically cleaves the saccharide chains of HS proteoglycans, and is upregulated in a variety of human tumors, including MM. In MM, We demonstrated that heparanase drives tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis and thus plays a major role in promoting the progression of this cancer. Recently, we discovered that heparanase promotes bone resorption and inhibits bone formation in MM through secreting soluble factors. Our work on heparanase has been published in high ranking journals (e.g., Blood, JBC, and Cancer Research) and presented orally at many international meetings. (3)The role of Runx2 in MM. This is a new research direction of my lab. Runx2, a member of the runt-related gene family, is well-known for its essential regulatory roles in the chondro-osteoblast lineage and bone formation. Accumulated evidence indicates that various cancer cells (e.g., breast, prostate, uterine, thyroid, colon and pancreatic cancers) also express Runx2 and that tumor-derived Runx2 is correlated with the aggressive tumor phenotype, including bone-metastasis and osteolysis. Our work focuses on the role of MM cell-derived Runx2 in MM progression and metastasis, which has not been studied before.

Positions Available
Date Posted Position Title
12/3/2014  Postdoctor 
A post-doctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Yang Yang at the Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham. This position is focused on the role of bone microenvironment in myeloma bone-metastasis and myeloma-induced bone diseases. The candidates must be highly self-motivated and have strong background in molecular/cellular biology, bone biology, and animal experiments. The candidate is expected to think and work independently and have strong written and oral communication skills. A recently graduated Ph.D is preferred. If interested, please send your CV and a brief statement of your career goals and research experiences/interests to Dr. Yang Yang at   

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Ruan, J., Trotter, T.N., Nan, L., Luo, R., Javed, A., Sanderson, R.D., Suva, L.J., Yang, Y. Heparanase inhibits osteoblastogenesis and shifts bone marrow progenitor cell fate in myeloma bone disease. Bone 2013, 57(1):10–17.   3786009 
Ritchie, J.P., Ramani, V.C., Naggi, A., Torri, G., Casu, B., Pisano, C., Carminati, P., Tortoreto, M., Zunino, F., Vlodavsky, I., Sanderson, R.D. and Yang, Y. SST0001, a chemically modified heparin, inhibits myeloma growth and angiogenesis via disruption of the heparanase/ syndecan-1 axis. Clinical Cancer Research 2011, 2011 17(6):1382-93.  3060291 
Yang, Y., Ren, R., Ramani, V.C., Nan, L., Suva, L.J., and Sanderson, R.D. Heparanase enhances local and systemic osteolysis in multiple myeloma by upregulating the expression and secretion of RANKL. Cancer Res 2010; 70(21): 8329-38.  2970667 
Yang Y, MacLeod V, Dai Y, Khotskaya-Sample Y, Shriver Z, Venkataraman G, Sasisekharan R, Naggi A, Torri G, Casu B, Vlodavsky I, Suva, Epstein J, Yaccoby S, Shaughnessy JD, Barlogie B and Sanderson RD: The syndecan-1 heparan sulfate proteoglycan is a viable target for myeloma therapy. Blood 2007; 110(6): 2041-8.   1976367 
Yang Yang, Veronica MacLeod, Hua-Quan Miao, Allison Theus, Fenghuang Zhan, John D. Shaughnessy, Jr., Jeffrey Sawyer, Jin-Ping Li, Eyal Zcharia, Israel Vlodavsky and Ralph D. Sanderson: Heparanase enhances syndecan-1 shedding: A novel mechanism for stimulation of tumor growth and metastasis. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 2007; 282(18):13326-33.

Yang, Y., Macleod, V., Bendre, M., Huang, Y., Theus, A.M, Miao, H.Q., Kussie, P., Yaccoby, S., Epstein, J., Suva, L.J., Kelly, T., and Sanderson, R.D. Heparanase promotes the spontaneous metastasis of myeloma cells to bone. Blood 2005; 105 (3): 1303-1309.   
Yang, Y., Yaccoby, S., Liu, W., Langford, K.J., Pumphrey, C.Y., Theus, A., Epstein, J., and Sanderson, R.D. Soluble syndecan-1 promotes growth of myeloma tumors in vivo. Blood 2002; 100(2): 610-617   

cancer-related bone diseases, tumor microenvironment, syndecan-1, heparanase, Runx2, multiple myeloma