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Yueh Lee, MD, PhD, Jiandong Liu, PhD, and Angela Smith, MD were selected as Yang Family Biomedical Scholars in the fifth installment of this annual award.

The UNC School of Medicine has named three researchers as recipients of the fifth annual Yang Family Biomedical Scholars Award. They are: Yueh Lee, MD, PhD, associate professor in the UNC Department of Radiology; Jiandong Liu, PhD, associate professor in the UNC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and member of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute; and Angela Smith, MD, associate professor and vice chair for academic affairs in the UNC Department of Urology, and Director of Urologic Oncology. Lee and Smith are members of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Each faculty member will receive a generous grant to be used at their discretion for biomedical research projects at the UNC School of Medicine. The researchers are now members of the Yang Family Society of Biomedical Scholars. The fifth annual seminar to highlight their work will be held later this year. The awards were made possible through donations from Yuanqing Yang, Chairman and CEO of Lenovo with additional financial support from Mr. To Hing Wu, an associate to Mr. Yang.

“We are extremely pleased that Mr. Yang and Mr. Wu have continued to support the UNC School of Medicine’s accomplished young researchers who strive each day to create new scientific knowledge with the goal of improving the health of all people,” said Blossom Damania, PhD, Vice Dean for Research at the UNC School of Medicine, the Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Lineberger member. “Drs. Lee, Liu, ad Smith have already conducted seminal research early in their careers, and we look forward to their innovative work breaking new ground in the years to come. We are proud to include them as our newest Yang Family Biomedical Scholars, and we are thankful for Mr. Yang’s generous support, which allows young scientists further opportunities to pursue new research endeavors at an important time in their careers.”

With the Yang Scholars program, the UNC School of Medicine is establishing a community of its brightest and most promising young tenured faculty. The award recognizes faculty that have made significant scholarly contributions to their field while also receiving national recognition for their research.

Dr. Lee has a background in bioengineering and clinical neuroradiology and focuses his research on translating the capabilities of new imaging devices for diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant diseases from the lab to the clinic. He has served as clinical PI on multiple first-in-human device trials including development of human imaging devices for breast tomosynthesis and lung tomosynthesis using the carbon nanotube x-ray source developed at the UNC Department of Physics, where he is an adjunct professor.

Dr. Liu uses genetic, molecular, and cell biology approaches to study cardiac development and function. Specifically, his lab uses zebrafish as a model system to research new therapeutic interventions for heart diseases. In his time at UNC, Liu has made several key research discoveries that could make a considerable impact on the development of more potent therapeutics for the treatment of heart disease. His work was recognized with the UNC SOM 2019 Jefferson Pilot Fellowship Award.

Dr. Smith has conducted research that has found high rates of hospital readmission for patients who had major bladder cancer surgery, highlighting important opportunities for improvement of care. She led a qualitative study of patients and caregivers to understand gaps in the prevailing norms of care, and this work informed a new technological intervention designed to address barriers to patient and caregiver education and communication. She is now co-PI on the $8.5 million PCORI Large Pragmatic Trial, a study directly addressing the top-priority research question for bladder cancer patients and caregivers, a project that is poised to transform the standard of care. Dr. Smith is also the 2020 recipient of the UNC Hettleman Prize for Artistic & Scholarly Achievement,

Contact: Mark Derewicz