postdoctoral fellow

Yilun  Deng

postdoctoral fellow


Mentor:  Dr.Tyler Curiel


With training in both clinical medicine and biomedical science, I realize the urge in the field for translational researchers to serve as important bridges between bench-to-bedside science and bedside-to-bench medicine. Therefore, my long-term career goal is to become an independent translational cancer researcher. My PhD study in the Dahia lab utilized an integrated approach involving genetics, cell biology and animal models to identify and characterize genes in pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs), a group of highly heritable tumors. I identified TMEM127, a novel susceptible gene in PPGLs and renal cell carcinomas, as an inhibitor of mTORC1 activation through interfering with the mTORC1 lysosomal activation complex and I also contributed to identifying EPAS1 gene, encoding for HIF2α protein, as a genetic link between PPGLs and congenital heart diseases which was published in the Journal of New England of Medicine. These have provided me with invaluable experience and insights in taking a clinical finding, identification of a tumor-related gene that is responsible for a disease, to a research lab to understand the underlying mechanisms of how it causes the disease. 

To work towards my long-term goal, the next question I asked is how I can bring bench-to-bedside findings to preclinical models, even clinical models and translate these findings into treatment options that ultimately benefit cancer patients. With this question, I decided to pursue postdoctoral training in Dr.Tyler Curiel’s lab in the Department of Medicine, UTHSA, renowned for their groundbreaking research in cancer immunology and started my research in immunotherapy for ovarian cancers. Despite the recent success of immunotherapy in multiple types of cancers, the response rate for other types of cancer patients is still extremely low, including ovarian cancer, the leading cause of death from gynecological cancer in the US. Therefore, the development of better immunotherapy for ovarian cancer is a largely unmet medical need on which I have decided to devote my research.

My background in medicine and experiences as clinical interns has nourished my clinical sense and perspectives to understand the goal is always to ultimately benefit cancer patients. My PhD training has equipped me with fundamental knowledge, research techniques and the way of critical thinking to seek answers from basic science research. With the distinguished resources and experience in the field of cancer immunology from the Curiel lab, I am ready to take my research to the next level and am confident that my training in the Curiel lab will not only yield high-impact publications but will also benefit ovarian cancer patients and benefit me greatly towards my long-term goal to become an independent researcher in translational cancer research.


2010-2016 PhD University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
2005-2010 Bachelor of Medicine (MD equivalent) Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China


My current research interests include using animal models to develop efficacious immune therapy for ovarian cancer patients. I am focusing on both improving existing immune therapies as well as developing new strategies towards this deadly cancer.


2018 CPRIT post-doctoral training fellowship award
2017 UTHSA 8th Annual Frontiers of Translational Science Research Day Winner
2019 7th Annual San Antonio Postdoctoral Research Forum SNAP AWARD WINNER
2016 UTHSA 19th Annual Medicine Research Day Poster Winner
2014 CPRIT pre-doctoral training fellowship award
2014 2014 CTRC Annual Symposium Predoctoral Poster Presentation Award
2014 the ICE/ENDO conference, Chicago, Outstanding Abstract Award
2010 Outstanding Graduate of the Year, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
2019 Excellent Intern, Guangzhou No.1 Hospital, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
2005-2010 Student Fellowships, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Professional Memberships

2018-present The American Association of Immunologists
2019-present Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
2012-2018 the Endocrine Society