Bruce A. Yankner, M.D., Ph.D.

Bruce A. Yankner, M.D., Ph.D.Bruce A. Yankner, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Genetics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Harvard Neurodegeneration Training Program, and Co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging. Dr. Yankner graduated from Princeton University, received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and did a residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. His work has contributed to understanding pathogenic mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease, Down’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, beginning with the initial observation that amyloid beta protein is a toxic molecule, and later with investigations into the roles of presenilin proteins, notch and wnt in neuronal signaling and pathology. Work from his laboratory has defined the transcriptome of the aging human brain, its evolution from mouse to man, and a role for DNA damage in brain aging.  His laboratory has recently identified a stress response network controlled by the REST transcription factor that is required for survival of aging neurons and becomes compromised early in the course of Alzheimer’s disease. He has received the Major Award for Medical Research from the Metropolitan Life Foundation, the Derek Denny-Brown Neurological Scholar Award from the American Neurological Association, the Irving S. Cooper Award from the Mayo Clinic, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, the Nathan W. Shock award from NIA and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award.

Direct Contact

Telephone: 617-432-6800
Lab Website:

Selected Publications

Busciglio J and Yankner BA (1995). Apoptosis and increased generation of reactive oxygen species in Down’s syndrome neurons. Nature 378:776-779.

Zhang Z, Hartmann H, Minh Do V, Abramowski D, Sturchler-Pierrat C, Staufenbiel M, Sommer B, van de Wetering M, Clevers H, Saftig P, De Strooper B, He, X and Yankner BA (1998). Destabilization of β-catenin by mutations in presenilin-1 potentiates neuronal apoptosis. Nature 395:698-702.

Zhang Z, Nadeau P, Song W, Donoviel D, Yuan M, Bernstein A and Yankner BA (2000). Presenilins are required for γ-secretase cleavage of β-APP and transmembrane cleavage of Notch-1. Nature Cell Biol. 2:463-465.

Busciglio J, Pelsman A, Wong C, Pigino G, Yuan M, Mori H and Yankner BA (2001). Altered metabolism of amyloid β precursor protein is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in Down’s syndrome. Neuron 33:677-688.

Xu J, Kao S-Y, Lee FJS, Song W, Jin L-W and Yankner BA (2002). Dopamine-dependent neurotoxicity of α-synuclein: A mechanism for selective neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. Nature Med. 8:600-606.

Lu T, Pan Y, Kao S-Y, Li C, Kohane I, Chan J and Yankner BA (2004). Gene regulation and DNA damage in the ageing human brain. Nature 429:833-891.

Hass M and Yankner BA (2005). A γ-secretase-independent mechanism of signal transduction by the amyloid precursor protein. J. Biol. Chem. 280: 36895-36904. (PMCID: PMC1562327)

Xu J Zhong N, Wang H, Elias JE, Kim CY, Woldman I, Pifl C, Gygi SP, Geula C and Yankner BA (2005). The Parkinson’s disease-associated DJ-1 protein is a transcriptional co-activator that protects against neuronal apoptosis. Human Molec. Genetics 14:1231-1241.

Isaacs AM, Senn DB, Yuan M, Shine JP and Yankner BA (2006). Acceleration of amyloid beta-peptide aggregation by physiological concentrations of calcium. J. Biol. Chem. 281:27916-27923. (PMCID: PMC1595535)

Oberdoerffer P, Michan S, McVay N, Mostoslavsky R, Vann J, Park SK, Hartlerode A, Stegmuller J, Hafner A, Loerch P, Wright SM, Mills KD, Yankner BA, Scully R, Prolla TA, Alt FW and Sinclair DA (2008).  DNA damage-induced alterations in chromatin contribute to genomic integrity and age-related changes in gene expression.  Cell 135:907-918. (PMCID: PMC2853975)

Loerch PM, Lu T, Dakin KA, Vann JM, Isaacs A, Geula C, Wang J, Pan Y, Gabuzda DH, Li C, Prolla TA and Yankner BA (2008). Evolution of the aging brain transcriptome and synaptic regulation. PLoS ONE 3(10):e3329. (PMCID: PMC2553198)

Bishop N, Lu T and Yankner BA (2010).  Neural mechanisms of ageing and cognitive decline.  Nature 464(7288):529-35. (PMCID: PMC2927852)

Furuya T, Kim M, Lipinski M, Li J, Kim D, Lu T, Shen Y, Rameh L, Yankner B, Tsai LH and Yuan J (2010). Negative regulation of Vps34 by Cdk mediated phosphorylation. Mol Cell 38(4):500-11. (PMCID: PMC2888511)

Lipinski MM, Zheng B, Lu T, Yan Z, Py BF, Ng A, Xavier RJ, Li C, Yankner BA, Scherzer CR and Yuan J (2010). Genome-wide analysis reveals mechanisms modulating autophagy in normal brain aging and in Alzheimer’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(32):14164-9. (PMCID: PMC2922576)

Sun F, Park KK, Belin S, Wang D, Lu T, Chen G, Yeung C, Feng G, Yankner BA and He Z (2011). Sustained axon regeneration induced by co-deletion of PTEN and SOCS3.  Science 480(7377):372-375. (PMCID: PMC3240702)

Lee PC, Dodart JC, Aron L, Finley LW, Bronsot RT, Haigis MC, Yankner BA and Harper JW (2013).  Altered social behavior and neuronal development in mice lacking the Uba6-Use1 ubiquitin transfer system. Mol Cell 50(2):172-184. (PMCID: PMC3640669)

Mosammaparast N, Kim H, Laurent B, Zhao Y, Lim HJ, Majid MC, Dango S, Luo Y, Hempel K, Sowa ME, Gygi SP, Steen H, Harper JW, Yankner BA and Shi Y (2013). The histone demethylase LSD1/KDM1A promotes the DNA damage response.  J. Cell Biol. 203(3):457-470. (PMCID:PMC3824007)

Gabuzda D and Yankner BA (2013). Inflammation links ageing to the brain. Nature. 497(7448):197-8. (PMCID: PMC3860882)

Lu T, Aron L, Zullo J, Pan Y, Kim H, Chen Y, Yang T-H, Kim H-M, Drake D, Liu XS, Bennett DA, Colaiacovo MP and Yankner BA (2014). REST and stress resistance in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Nature. 507(7493):448-54. (PMCID:PMC4110979).

Kang C, Martin TD, Li MZ, Demaria M, Aron L, Lu T, Yankner BA, Campisi J and Elledge SJ (2015). The DNA damage response induces inflammation and senescence by inhibiting autophagy of GATA4.  Science 349(6255):aaa5612.