Dr. Zemin Yao
Dr. Zemin Yao
Professor (Emeritus) and Professor

BSc, (E. Chin. Normal)
MSc, University of British Columbia
PhD, University of British Columbia


Research Interests

Dr. Zemin Yao is Professor of Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. Born in Shanghai, China, Dr. Yao obtained his MSc and PhD in Biochemistry at University of British Columbia, and his postdoctoral research training at Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases of University of California, San Francisco. In 1991, Dr. Yao was appointed as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, where he established his first independent research program at the Lipid and Lipoprotein Research Group of University of Alberta with support from Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, and Medical Research Council of Canada (now the Canadian Institutes of Health Research). In 1994, Dr. Yao joined University of Ottawa Heart Institute to direct the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory of the CIHR Lipoprotein and Atherosclerosis Group. From 2002 through 2013, Dr. Yao was appointed as Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology of the University of Ottawa. In 2014-2015, Dr. Yao was Visiting Scholar of Harvard University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Currently, Dr. Yao is Visiting Professor of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.

Dr. Yao has a broad research interest in the metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins, and in the relationships between various diseases and the abnormalities in the metabolism of lipoproteins and lipoprotein receptors. Lipoproteins are microscopic particles that carry the majority of cholesterol and triglycerides in the circulation. Elevation of the disease-causing lipoproteins, known as LDL or “bad cholesterol,” is often associated with metabolic syndromes (such as diabetes and obesity) and with premature coronary heart disease. Dr. Yao has investigated the lipid and protein factors (such as apoB, apoC3, and hepatic lipase) that regulate the biosynthesis of LDL, and his research has yielded insights into the molecular mechanisms responsible for various diseases, including familial defective apoB (that causes high blood concentration of LDL), familial hypobetalipoproteinemia and familial abetalipoproteinemia (both have abnormally low blood concentration of LDL), and familial combined hyperlipidemia (caused by overproduction of disease-causing lipoproteins).

Dr. Yao is currently investigating several proteins that are produced in the liver and their roles in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and hypertriglyceridemia. His research directly relates to the development of pharmacological interventions in the prevention and treatment of chronic and metabolic disorders.

Dr. Yao´s research utilizes modern molecular and cellular biology techniques including genetically inactivating (known as “knockout”) or expressing (known as transgenic) specific genes in mice, and various microscopic imaging techniques including live cell imaging and tomographic electron microscopy.

Dr. Yao’s research program has been funded through operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, grant-in-aids from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, research & development grant from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Dr. Yao has received numerous recognitions and awards from international and national organizations. He was the recipient of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Scholarship Award, the McDonald Scholarship and Carrier Investigator Award of Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the Scientist Award and Senior Investigator Award of the Medical Research Council of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Yao was also the recipient of the Senior Investigator Award of the Canadian Lipoprotein Conference, and the recipient of Ottawa Life Science Council Achievement Award in Basic Research. Dr. Yao publishes his experimental results in scientific journals and regularly presents his discoveries at national and international conferences. Dr. Yao is also an active teacher who mentors postgraduate students in the laboratory and teaches undergraduate, postgraduate, and medical school students annually.

For further information, please contact Dr. Zemin Yao at [email protected].

Selected Publications

  • Liu, X., and Yao, Z. (2016) Chronic over-nutrition and dysregulation of GSK3 in diseases. Nutrition and Metabolism. 13:49. doi: 10.1186/s12986-016-0108-8.
  • Magnolo, L., Noto, D., Cefalu, A. B., Averna, M., Calandra, S., Yao, Z., Tarugi, P. (2016) Characterization of a mutant form of human apolipoprotein B (Thr26_Tyr27del) associated with familial hypobetalipoproteinemia. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta – Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. 186:1371-379.
  • Zhang, L., Song, H., Ge, Y., Liu, P., Ji, G., and Yao, Z. (2015) Temporal relationship between high-fat, high-sucrose diet-induced hepatosteatosis and the onset of insulin/leptin resistance in hypothalamus and liver in male Wistar rats. PLos One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0117008.
  • Iimura, Y., Matsuura, M., Yao, Z., Ito, S., Fujiwara, M. Yoshitsugu, M., Miyauchi, A., and Hiyoshi, T. (2015) Lack of a predictive power of plasma lipids or lipoproteins for gestational diabetes mellitus in Japanese women. Journal of Diabetes Investigation. doi: 10.1111/jdi.12363.
  • Yao, Z., Zhang, L, and Ji, G. (2014) Efficacy of polyphenolic ingredients of Chinese herbs in treating dyslipidemia of metabolic syndromes. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 12:135-146.
  • Bamji-MirzaM., ZhangW., and Yao, Z. (2014) Expression of human hepatic lipase negatively impacts apolipoprotein A-I production in primary hepatocytes from Lipc-null mice. Journal of Biomedical Research. 28:201-212, doi: 10.7555/ JBR.28.20130184.
  • Zhang, L., Xu, J., Song, H., Yao, Z., and Ji, G. (2014) Extracts from Salvia-Nelumbinis naturalis alleviate hepatosteatosis via improving hepatic insulin sensitivity. Journal of Translational Medicine. 12:236, doi: 10.1186/s12967-014-0236-8.
  • Yao, Z., Zhou, H., Figeys, D., Wang, Y., Sundaram, M. (2013) Microsome-associated lumenal lipid droplets in the regulation of lipoprotein secretion. Current Opinion in Lipidology. 24:160-70. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835aebe7.
  • Zhang, L., Zhong, S., Li, Y., Ji, G., Sundaram, M., and Yao, Z. (2013) Global inactivation of the Pla2g6 gene in mice does not cause dyslipidemia under chow or high-fat diet conditions. Journal of Cancer Prevention. 18:235-258, doi: 10.15430/JCP.2013.18.3.235.
  • Chu, H.-L., Cheng, T.-M., Chen, H.-W., Chou, F.-H., Chang, Y.-C., Lin, H.-Y., Liu, S.-Y., Liang, Y.-C., Hsu, M.-H., Wu, D.-S., Li, H.-Y., Ho, L.-P., Wu, P.-C., Chen, F.-R., Chen, G.-S., Shieh, D.-B., Chang, C.-S., Su, C.-H., Yao, Z., and Chang, C.-C. (2013) Synthesis of apolipoprotein B lipoparticles to deliver hydrophobic/amphiphilic materials. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 5:7500-7516, doi: 10.1021/ am401808e.
  • Jiang, Z. G., Robson, S. C., and Yao, Z. (2013) Lipoprotein metabolism in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal Biomedical Research. 27:1-13, doi: 10.7555/JBR.27.20120077.
  • Yao, Z. and Wang, Y. (2012) Apolipoprotein C-III and hepatic triglyceride-rich lipoprotein secretion. Current Opinion in Lipidology. 23:206-212.
  • Yao, Z. (2012) Human Apolipoprotein C-III – A new intrahepatic protein factor promoting assembly and secretion of very low density lipoproteins. BSP: Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 12:133-40.
  • Sundaram M. and Yao, Z. (2012) Intrahepatic role of exchangeable apolipoproteins in lipoprotein assembly and secretion. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 32:1073-1078.
  • Zhou, H., Wang, F., Wang, W., Ning, N., Hou, W., Wright, T. G., Sundaram, M., Zhong, S., Yao, Z., and FigeysD. (2011) Improved recovery and identification of membrane proteins from rat hepatic cells using a centrifugal proteomic reactor. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 10:1-11, July 2011 (1.71 MB), doi: 10.1074/mcp.O111.008425.
  • Wen Qin, Sundaram, M., Wang, Y, Zhou, H., Zhong, S., Chang, CC, Manhas, S., Yao, E.F., Parks, R.J., McFie, P.J., Stone, S.J., Jiang, Z.G., Wang, C., Figeys, D., Jia, W., Yao, Z. (2011) Missense Mutation in AP0C3 within the C-terminal Lipid-binding domain of Human apoC-III Results in Impaired Assembly and Secretion of Triacylglycerol-rich Very Low Density Lipoproteins. Journal of Biological Chemesitry. 286:27769-27780, doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.203679. (June 2011 (2.25 MB))
  • Bamji-Mirza, M., Sundaram, M., Zhong, S., Yao, E. F., Parks, R., and Yao, Z. (2010) Secretion of triacylglycerol-poor VLDL particles from McA-RH7777 cells expressing human hepatic lipase. Journal of Lipid Research. 52:540-548, doi:10.1194/jlr.M012476 (December 2010 (943 KB))
  • Khalil, MB, Blais, A, Figey, D, Yao, Z. (2010) Lipin - The bridge between hepatic glycerolipid biosynthesis and lipoprotein metabolism. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 1801:1249-1259 (656 KB)
  • Sundaram, M., and Yao, Z. (2010) Recent progress in understanding protein and lipid factors affecting hepatic VLDL assembly and secretion. Nutrition and Metabolism7:35 (685 KB) doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-35.
  • Sundaram, M., Zhong, S., Bou Khalil, M., Zhou, H., Jiang, Z. G., Zhao, Y., Iqbal, J., Hussain, M. M., Figeys, D., Wang, Y., and Yao, Z. (2010) Functional analysis of the missense APOC3 mutation Ala23Thr associated with human hypotriglyceridemia. Journal of Lipid Research. 51(6):1524-34 (1.37 MB) doi: 10.1194/jlr.M005108.
  • Zhong, S., Magnolo, A. L., Sundaram, M., Zhou, H., Yao, E. F., Leo, E. D., Loria, P., Wang, S., Bamji-Mirza, M., Wang, L., McKnight, J., Figeys, D., Wang, Y., Tarugi, P., and Yao, Z. (2010) Nonsynonymous mutations within APOB in human hypobetalipoproteinemia: Evidence for feedback inhibition of lipogenesis and post-endoplasmic reticulum degradation of apolipoprotein B. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 285, 6453-6464. Article (2.20 MB) doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.060467.
  • Sundaram, M., Zhong, S., Bou Khalil, M., Links, P. H., Zhao, Y., Iqbal, J., Hussain, M., Parks, R., Wang, Y., and Yao, Z. (2010) Expression of apolipoprotein C-III in McA-RH7777 cells enhances VLDL assembly and secretion under lipid-rich conditions. Journal of Lipid Research. 51, 150-161 (1.41 MB)

Research interests

  • Lipids and lipoproteins
  • Macromolecule assembly and secretion
  • Cell surface receptors
  • Biochemistry