Albert Yu Completes Dissertation Defense

Albert Yu and program directors standing together smiling and eating cake.
MD/PhD Student Albert Yu (left) celebrating his successful dissertation defense with MD/PhD Program Director Carol Pilbeam MD PhD (middle) and Co-Director Kimberly Dodge-Kafka PhD (right)

Jun 29, 2018

The UConn MD/PhD Program would like to congratulate Albert Yu on his successful public dissertation for the Department of Cell Biology this past Friday. Albert did his PhD work in the lab of Lixia Yue. Seeking to identify new possible treatment targets in heart disease, Albert conducted a wide range of experiments to investigate the role of trp channels in fibrosis, a central element of many cardiac pathologies. He performed aortic surgeries on mice that would cause them to develop heart failure, and using this model demonstrated that the mice without the trp channel exhibited substantial resistance to the progression of heart disease. He then focused his experiments on studying how trp channels contributed to the pathophysiology using patch-clamp electrophysiology techniques. He also recently presented his work at this year’s Heart Rhythm Meeting in Boston. This research stands to guide the development of novel therapeutics in the prevention and treatment of cardiac fibrosis and heart failure.

Albert joined the Yue lab because of his interest in cardiology. Early in his time there, he received a graduate fellowship to support his studies from the American Heart Association (AHA). His advisor introduced him with the resounding laudations of a proud mother. She extolled his constant level-headedness, masterful dexterity in conducting electrophysiology experiments, and suggested these qualities would make him an excellent cardiologist or surgeon one day.

Wasting no time, Albert is starting his 3rd year clerkships this week. Although he has not yet decided on a specialty, Albert says that cardiology is still very much on the radar. For his longitudinal clinical practice, which MD/PhD students at UConn now get to continue during their PhD years, Albert is working with electrophysiologist Dr. Heiko Schmitt to get hands-on exposure to the sub-specialty. Like most of us here, Albert somehow manages to maintain a life outside of medicine, enjoying biking our local trails and visiting national parks. He is a friendly face to all the students in the program and we look forward to all his future triumphs.