Yanhua Gao, MD, PhD

  • Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Yanhua Gao is a Research Associate Professor in Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh. She received her MD and PhD from universities in China and then received further training and research experience in biochemistry, molecular genetics and cell biology in South Korea and United States. Her current research concentrates on T-cell cancer immunotherapy with the goal of developing therapeutic agents and simple and safe strategies to prevent and treat metastases. She constructed recombinant replicating Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (rrVSV) containing various single chain antibodies to tumor antigens and cytokines, set up animal models, and cured mice tumor using a combination of viral and immune methods. She is dissecting the antitumor properties of individual memory T-cell subsets by adoptive transfer these cells to host mice with established tumor. She is analyzing the activation, migration, and TCR components of specific and nonspecific antitumor reaction. She is establishing a syngeneic spontaneous tumor metastasis animal model for testing the efficacy of rrVSV oncolytic immunotherapy. Her research will lay a solid foundation for further clinical trial of using rrVSV in treating and preventing Her2/neu positive cancer metastasis.    

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American Association of Immunologists, 2017-Present 

Education & Training

  • MD, Hebei Medical University, 1991
  • MS, Epidemiology & Statistics, North China Medical University, 1994
  • PhD, Toxicology & Occupational Health, Shanghai Medical University, 1997
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Biology, Dong-A University, 1997-1998
  • Certificate, Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh, 2005

Selected Publications

Gao Y,  Bergman I. Potent Antitumor T-Cell Memory Is Generated by Curative Viral Oncolytic Immunotherapy But Not Curative Chemotherapy. Anticancer Research, 2018, 38: XXX (Accepted for publication on Nov 1, 2018)  

Gao Y, Barmada MA, Bergman I. Antitumor memory T-cells become functionally mature from 30 to 100 days in a mouse model of neoplasia.  Anticancer Research, Anticancer Res. 2018;38(1):147-157.    

Gao, Y., Whitaker-Dowling, P., & Bergman, I. Memory antitumor T-cells resist inhibition by immune suppressor cells. Anticancer Research. 2015;35(9):4593-4597. 

Gao, Y., Whitaker-Dowling, P., Barmada, M. A., Basse, P. H., & Bergman, I. Viral infection of implanted meningeal tumors induces antitumor memory T-cells to travel to the brain and eliminate established tumors. Neuro-Oncology 2015;17(4):536-544.  

Larsen SK, Gao Y, Basse PH. NK cells in the tumor microenvironment.  Crit Rev Oncol. 2014;19(1-2):91-105. 

Gao Y, Whitaker-Dowling P, Griffin JA, Bergman I. Treatment with targeted Vesicular Stomatitis Virus generates therapeutic multifunctional anti-tumor memory CD4 T-cells. Cancer Gene Therapy 2012;19:282–291.  

Gao Y, Whitaker-Dowling P, Griffin JA, Barmada MA, Bergman I. Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus targeted to Her2/neu combined with anti-CTLA4 antibody eliminates implanted mammary tumors. Cancer Gene Ther. 2009;16(1):44-52.  

Bergman I, Griffin JA, Gao Y, Whitaker-Dowling P. Treatment of implanted mammary tumors with recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus targeted to Her2/neu. Int J Cancer. 2007; 121(2):425-30.  

Gao Y, Whitaker-Dowling P, Watkins SC, Griffin JA, Bergman I. Rapid adaptation of a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus to a targeted cell line. J Virol. 2006;80(17):8603-12. 

Bergman I, Whitaker-Dowling P, Gao Y, Griffin JA. Preferential targeting of vesicular stomatitis virus to breast cancer cells. Virology. 2004;330(1):24-33.  

Full Publication List via NIH PubMed »

Academic and Research Interests

  • To study the migration and activation of anti-tumor memory T-cells
  • To treat syngeneic mouse tumor by combinations of viral and chemotherapy to generate powerful anti-tumor T cell response
  • To show that infection of a primary tumor with rrVSV followed by standard surgical or chemotherapy generates full strength anti-tumor memory T-cells that prevent later metastases
  • Developing novel targeted rrVSVs towards tumor antigens with high specificity and efficacy