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Wei Yan, M.D., Ph.D., who is an associate professor of physiology and cell biology at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, has been awarded $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health for studying the regulation of male fertility by small noncoding ribonucleic acids. University of Nevada School of Medicine is the only public medical school and has been a leader in healthcare, medical education and research in Nevada since 1969. The Nevada School of Medicine includes sixteen clinical departments including family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, surgery, and psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and five nationally recognized departments in basic science including microbiology and biomedical engineering.

Wei Yan's grant should cover the research of approximately 5 years and this grant also represents his second major NIH grant in the last 6 years. He is continuing his research is about male infertility and so far his studies had a major impact for male fertility and contraception. His research suggests that X chromosomes (female genes ) in developing sperm cells encode numerous tiny ribonucleic acids (microRNAs) despite the fact that most of genes on the X chromosomes are suppressed. This finding suggests that these micro RNAs play a crucial role in inactivation of chromosomes and additionally in sperm formation. This study is a step forward in understanding the role of micro RNAs in the sperm production and the ability to control it. Because micro RNAs influence the control of sperm formation and production, these exact RNAs can also be one of causes of male infertility, which is yearly increasing, as well as non-hormonal male contraceptive target.

Doctor Yan will move his laboratory into the new Center for Molecular Medicine that will open later this summer. Center for Molecular Medicine will house portions of the Departments of Cell Biology, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Physiology, and will also serve as a headquarters for the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Diseases.

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