Man Yan (Yan) Wong

  • Fellowship in 2014 at Harvard University
Yan graduated from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) with a BSc (First Class Honors) in Biotechnology. She was awarded scholarships from HKU for her undergraduate exchange studies overseas.

She continued her PhD study at the University of Pittsburgh where she became interested in neuroscience. Under the mentorship of Dr. Edwin Levitan, she developed a novel imaging technique to assay vesicle transport in the synapse, a cellular process that is fundamental to neurotransmission.

Her dissertation proposed a "conveyor belt" model that explains how cellular materials in neurons are distributed to diverse synapses bidirectionally to support brain functions. This work was published in the top journal Cell in 2012.

During her PhD, Yan also interned at Genentech Inc., where she used 2-photon microscopy to assay neuronal growth in mouse brains and examined the signaling mechanism of Amyloid Precursor Proteins (APPs) in axon degeneration.

Yan had her postdoctoral training in the Kaeser Lab with the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2012

Her research aims to understand how neurotransmitter release, a process underlying all brain functions, is regulated by a protein complex (active zone) at the synapse. 

By developing live-cell imaging assays, implementing new technologies such as superresolution microscopy and CRISPR genome editing, she is now dissecting a drug-activated signaling pathway that modulates CNS synaptic plasticity and memory formation. The work will provide new insights into future therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.

With the nomination by Croucher FoundationYan was selected as one of the top young scientists to participate the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in summer 2015 .

Yan is interested in new technologies and drug development. Outside work, Yan enjoys photography and has traveled extensively around the world. She is also actively involved in volunteer work in non-profit organizations.


She is now an Investigator at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR).