Frances T Yen PhD Biochemistry and Nutrition

Course and current status

Dr. Frances T. Yen completed her PhD in 1987 nutritional biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her postdoctoral studies at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. She was assistant professor at LSU, and after working as an invited researcher in Rennes, France, she obtained a position as tenured associate professor at the University of Rennes I. She became director of research at INSERM in 1996, and also worked as research director in biotech companies (Genset, Valigen, Immusol) in San Diego between 1998 and 2003. Following her return to France in 2003, she founded and directed (2005-2008, 2011-2012) the laboratory team, Lipidomix. Lipidomix merged with the URAFPA laboratory at the University of Lorraine and she is currently managing the QUALIVE project (Quality of diet and aging) focusing on the mechanisms that influence dietary lipid bioavailability and that contribute to cellular and metabolic dysfunctions associated with brain aging.  The principal objective is to identify targets that can be modified using preventive or corrective nutritional strategies for healthy aging. She has published over 40 papers in reputable peer-reviewed journals, is co-inventor of over 19 patents, and has served as reviewer for journals including Diabetes, Lipids, PloS One and Ann NY Acad Sci. She is also fellow of the American Heart Assocation, and member of ASBMB and ASN. She is active at the University, as president of the instutional ethical review board, and as assistant director of the research pole (Agronomy, agroalimentation, forest). 

Scientific summary

Dr Yen's research focuses primarily on the regulation of lipid homeostasis in the liver and more recently, in the central nervous system.  Her research initially focused on factors regulating the lipoprotein remodeling in the plasma by LCAT and CETM. A fortuitous observation led towards the identification and characterization of a lipoprotein receptor, the lipolysis stimulated lipoprotein receptor, which participates in the liver uptake of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and potentially represents the LDL-receptor independent pathway. After a 5 year hiatus in the States where she participated in functional genomics programs in an industrial setting, she returned to basic research to direct a team with the goal towards determining the underlying mechanisms to explain dyslipidemia as risk factor for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative (Alzheimer's) disease and identify potential strategies for treatment and prevention of these age-related diseases: 

The aging process is a result of  the combined effects of age, genetics, and chronic and acute exposures to environmental factors, including those introduced through and by the diet. Our research is based on the perturbations of lipid homeostasis as risk factor for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration), thus contributing to pathological aging. Deleterious effects associated with pathological aging can be prevented or controlled by improving the quality of diet and food safety (e.g. food pollutants), which are among the principal health determinants that can influence the aging process. Our work focuses on lipid bioavailability and bioactivities, cell membrane remodeling and their consequences on receptor function and activity, which are key processes involved in maintaining optimal lipid status thereby contributing to healthy aging.

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