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Yiling Hong, PhD

Associate Professor, Stem Cell Biology and Nanotoxicity

College of Health Sciences

E-Mail: yhong@westernu.edu

Phone: 8685 | Fax: 5635


University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA

Ph. D.


Research Interest

Project 1: Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Neuronal Differentiation

Stem cell-based neuronal differentiation has provided a unique opportunity for disease modeling and regenerative medicine. Recentlywe have developed a novel method and defined culture conditions for generating sub-type or region-specific neurons from human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells without genetic manipulation. Using this neurosphere-based differentiation protocol, our lab is studying the etiology of neurocognitive diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases and the cell therapy .

Project 2: EmbryonicStem Cells as Model for Nanotoxicity Testing

Eembryonic stem cells provide valuable models for studying the effects of environmental chemicals on human neuronal development and degeneration. Engineered nanoparticles (NPs) have enormous potential to revolutionize many fields and are currently being developed for diverse applications. As the commercial use of NPs becomes more widespread, human exposure will consequently increase. Due to NPs unique properties, some NPs have toxic characteristics that are different from the bulk forms of the same materials. One of my research projects is to use human embryonic stem cells as a cellular model for classifying NPs according to their neuronal toxic or non-toxic potential and understand the mechanisms nanotoxicity. Understanding of the effects of NPs on biological system will greatly enhance consumer confidence in using nanoparticles. The other project is to understand the impact of tobacco on neurogenesis and neuronal degeneration.

Research Grant

Principal Investigator: Grant title “Cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of manufactured nanoparticles on stem cells” National Institutes of Health. 2011-2014.


2012-2013: Merial Veterinary Scholars Award.

2007-2009: Merck-AAAS Undergraduate Research Award.

2007- 2008: Learn, Lead, and Serve Award, University of Dayton.

2003-2004: The National Institute Environmental Health Sciences Travel Award.

1999-2001: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, NIH.

2002 : American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate/Postdoctoral TravelAward.

1997-1999: Postdoctoral Fellowship of University of Kentucky Women in Underrepresented Areas.


Society for Neuroscience 2013-present

International Stem Cell Society 2005-present

The Ohio Academy of Science 2005-2012

Sigma Xi 2007-2012


Student Affair Committee 2012-2015

Research Advising Committee 2015-present


  1. Begum, A., Cho, J., Hao, J., Lutfy, K. and Hong, Y. (2015) Rapid generation of sub-type specific neurons and neural networks from human pluripotent stem cell-derived neurospheres. Stem Cell Res. 15: 731-741.NIHMS ID 733265.
  2. Aguilar, J. S.,Begum, A. M.,Alvarez J.,Zhang,, X. B., Hong, Y. . and Hao, J., (2015) Directed cardiomyogenesis of human pluripotent stem cells by modulating Wnt/ -catenin and BMP signalling with small molecules. Biochemical Journal 469(2):235-41
  3. Rajanahalli, P. Stuck C and Hong, Y. The effects of silver nanoparticles on cell cycle progression and cell viability in mouse embryonic stem cells. Toxi Rep 2: 758-765
  4. Sweigert, P., Xu, Z., Hong, Y.and Swavey, S. (2012) Nickel, copper, and zinc centered ruthenium-substituted porphyrins: effect of transition metals on photoinduced DNA cleavage and photoinduced melanoma cell toxicity. Dalton Transactions, 41: 5021-5208.
  5. Rajanahalli, P., Meyer, M., Zhu, L., Wagner, B. D., Robinson, M. L., King, D. A. and Hong, Y. (2011) Conversion of mouse fibroblasts to sphere cells induced by AlbuMAXI-containing medium. Frontiers in Bioscience 4: 1813-1822.
  6. Meyer, K. Rajanahalli, P., Ahamed, M., Rowe, J. and Hong, Y. (2011) ZnO nanoparticles induce apoptosis in human dermal fibroblast cells via P53 and p38 pathway. Toxicology in Vitro 25: 1721-1726.
  7. Xing, H. Y. Hong, Y. and Sarge, K. D. (2010) PEST sequences mediate heat shock factor 2 turnover by interacting with the Cul3 subunit of the Cul3-RING ubiquitin ligase, Cell Stress Chaperones 15:301-308.
  8. Ahamed, M., Karns, M., Goodson, M., Rowe, J., Hussain, S., Schlager, J.,and Hong, Y. (2008) DNA damage responses to different surface chemistry of silver nanoparticles in mammalian cells. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 233:404-410.
  9. Davia,K., King, D. Hong, Y. and Swavey, S.(2008) A porphyrin-ruthenium photosensitizer as a potential photodynamic therapy agent. Inorganic Chemistry Communications 11: 584-586.
  10. Rani-Beeram, S., Meyer, K., McCrate A.Hong, Y.Nielsen, M and Swavey, S.(2008) A Fluorinated ruthenium porphyrin as a potential photodynamic therapy agent: synthesis, characterization DNA binding, and Melanoma cell studies. Inorganic Chemistry 47: 11278-11283.
  11. Murphy L. A, Wilkerson D. C, Hong, Y. and Sarge K. D. (2008) PRC1 associates with the hsp70i promoter and interacts with HSF2 during mitosis. Experimental Cell Research, 314 (11-12):2224-2230.
  12. Zhang J, Goodson M. L., Hong, Y. and Sarge K. D. (2008) MEL-18 interacts with HSF2 and the SUMO E2 UBC9 to inhibit HSF2 sumoylation. J Biological Chemistry 283(12):7464-9.
  13. Zhu, L., Wook C., Dai, L. and Hong, Y. (2007) DNA damage induced by multiwalled carbon nanotubes in mouse embryonic stem cells. Nano Letters, 7(12): 3592-3579 (SCI Journal Impact Factor 12.5).
  14. Hong Y,Cervantes R. B., Tichy E., Tischfield J. A., Stambrook P. J.(2007) Protecting genomic integrity in somatic cells and embryonic stem cells. Mutation Research 614:48-55.
  15. Skaggs, H. S., Xing, H. Y., Wilkerson, D. C., Murphy L. A., Hong, Y., Mayhew, C. N. and Sarge, K. D. (2007). HSF1-TPR interaction facilitates export of stress-induced HSP 70 mRNA. J. Biological Chemistry 282:33902-33907.
  16. Xing, H. Y.,Hong, Y. and Sarge, K. D. (2007) Identification of the PP2A-interacting region of heat shock transcript factor 2. Cell Stress Chaperones 12:192-197.
  17. Xing, H. Y., Wilkerson, D. C., Mayhew, C. N., Lubert E. J., Skaggs H. S., Goodson M. L., Hong, Y. Park-Sarge O. K. and Sarge, K. D. (2005) Mechanisms of hsp70i gene bookmarking. Science307: 421-423.
  18. Hong, Y.and Stambrook, P.J. (2004) Restoration of an absent G1 arrest and protection from apoptosis in embryonic stem cells after ionizing radiation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., USA. 101 (40): 14443-8. PMID: 15452351.
  19. Higarth, R. S.Hong, Y., Park-Sarge, O. K. and Sarge, K. D. (2003). Insights into the regulation of heat shock transcription factors 1 sumo-modification. Biochemical Biophysical Research Communications 303:196-200.
  20. Hong, Y., Rogers, R., Matunis, M. J., Mayhew C.N., Goodson, M. L., Park-Sarge, O. K. and Sarge, K. D. (2001). Regulation of HSF1 by stress-induced SUMO-1 modification. J. Biological Chemistry 276:40263-40267.
  21. Lubert, E. J.,Hong, Y. and Sarge, K. D. (2001) Interaction between protein phosphatase 5 and the subunit of protein phosphatase 2A: evidence for a heterotrimeric form of protein phosphatase 5. J. Biological Chemistry 276: 38582-38587.
  22. Hong, Y.,Lubert, E. J., Rodgers, D.W., and Sarge, K. D. (2000) Molecular basis of competition between HSF2 and catalytic subunit for binding to the PR65/A subunit of PP2A. Biochemical Biophysical Research Communications 272: 84-89.
  23. Hong, Y. and Sarge, K. D. (1999) Regulation of protein phosphatase 2A activity by heat shock transcription factors 2. J. Biological Chemistry 274: 12967-12970.
  24. Maiti, I. B., Von Lanken, C., Hong, Y. and Hunt, A. G. (1999) Introduction of multiple virus-derived resistance determinants into transgenic plants does not result in additive resistance properties. J. Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology 8, 67-73.
  25. Fellers, J., Wang, J. R., Hong, Y.,Shaw, J. and Hunt, A. G. (1998) In vitro interactions between a potyvirus-encoded, genome-linked protein and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. J. General Virology 79: 2043-2049.
  26. Hong, Y.and Hunt, A. G. (1996) RNA polymerase activity catalyzed by a potyvirus-encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Virology 225:146-151.
  27. Hong, Y.,Levay, K., Murphy, J. F., Klein, P. G., Shaw, J. G. and Hunt, A. G. (1995) A potyvirus polymerase interacts with the viral coat protein and Vpg in yeast cells. Virology 214: 159-166.

Book Chapters:

  1. Schrand, A. M., Johnson, J., Dai, L., Hussain S. M., Schlager, J. J., Zhu L. Hong, Y. and Osawa, E. (2008) Cytotoxicity and genetoxicity of carbon nanomaterials. Chapter 8, Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC.
  2. Hong, Y.,Cervantes, R. B. and Stambrook, P. J. (2005) DNA damage response and mutagenesis in mouse embryonic stem cells. In: Embryonic Stem Cells-II: Methods and Protocols. P. 313-326. Humana Press Inc.


  1. Hong, Y. (2010)“Enhanced methods for producing stem-like cells from somatic cells” US Patent Application #12/703,205.
  2. Hong, Y.(2008)“Methods of producing pluripotent stem cells”. US Patent Application #12/228,205.
  3. Hong, Y.and Chow, M. (2015)Medium for culturing circulating tumor cells (US 62/194,191).