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Zhen Yan, PhD

Professor, HNFE
  • Director, Center for Exercise Medicine Research
Zhen Yan, PhD
4 Riverside Circle
Roanoke, VA 24016

Exploring the mechanisms of how exercise benefits human health

Can exercise improve the function of mitochondria to stave off human diseases?

Zhen Yan's research highlights the importance of the power plants of our cells, the mitochondria. The quantity, number, and function of mitochondria are critically important to maintaining good health. Yan believes dysfunctional mitochondria is the genesis of a range of deadly and deblitating human diseases, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. His research aims to find ways to improve mitochondrial quality and quantity.  Exercise intervention is one of the best ways to promote mitochondrial function.

Dr. Yan's Appearances, Presentations, and Recognitions

  • Jacobæus Prize, Novo Nordisk Foundation, 2022
  • Induction into the MilliPub Club, 2018
  • Addgene Blue Flame Award, 2016
  • University of Virginia Department of Medicine Outstanding Research Award, 2016
  • University of Virginia Department of Medicine Outstanding Research Award, 2011
  • Outstanding Innovator Award, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, 2010
  • American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant, 2001-2003 
  • American Heart Association Texas-Affiliate Beginning Grant-in-Aid, 1999-2000 
  • Appointed to NIH NRSA-Postdoctoral Fellowship at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 1995-1999
  • 8th International Conference of Exercise Biochemistry Travel Grant, Research
  • Group of Biochemistry of Exercise at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1991
  • Graduate School Thesis Award, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, 1990
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Ph.D., Physiology and Cell Biology
  • University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, M.S., Kinesiology
  • Medical Worker's College of Jiangsu Province, China, B.S. Med.