"My research group studies the molecular, cellular, and evolutionary mechanisms of brain development and applies this information to understand and target mechanisms underlying brain tumors and neurological diseases. Currently, our research focuses on the functions of Shh signaling and primary cilia in brain development and medulloblastoma."

- Dr. Young-Goo Han

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Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Member, Department of Developmental Neurobiology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,
    Memphis, Tennessee, USA, 2011- Present

About DSA-Funded Research

Curative and less damaging therapies for all children with medulloblastoma are desperately needed. Medulloblastoma comprises four subgroups driven by different abnormal cell signals. The Sonic hedgehog(SHH) and WNT subgroups are driven by aberrant SHH and WNT signals, respectively. Subgroup 3 tumors may be driven by aberrant MYC signals, but little is known about the subgroup 4. Recently, I showed that primary cilia - poorly understood, antenna-like structures that protrude from a cell’s surface- play critical roles in medulloblasoma. Specifically, I showed that primary cilia promote or inhibit SHH-subgroup medulloblastoma depending on which mutations are present in the tumor, and that primary cilia are present in WNT-subgroup medulloblastoma but absent in the subgroup 3. These novel data suggest that primary cilia play central but distinct roles in the different forms of medulloblastoma, opening up a completely new avenue of research to understand the biology and treatment of these tumors. I propose to use innovative proteomics approaches to identify proteins that mediate SHH signaling in primary cilia and study the role of these proteins in medulloblastoma development. To further determine the role of primary cilia in WNT-subgroup medulloblastoma and the subgroup 3, I propose to manipulate primary cilia in novel mouse models for these medulloblastoma subgroups and investigate the effects on tumor formation and the underlying molecular mechanism for such effects.

The insights gained from my studies into the role of primary cilia in the different forms of medulloblastoma have great potential to unmask novel diagnostic tools and targets for molecular therapy.


"Young-Goo is uniquely qualified to prosecute this highly innovative work: he essentially started this field of research and is its principal driver and has all the necessary tools and infrastructure to bring it to a successful conclusion."

James I. Morgan. Ph.D.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

"Young-Goo Han is an extraordinary scientist who has made significant contributions to cancer research and our understanding of how neural stem cells are retained in the adult brain. He is one of those rare individuals for whom creative thinking comes naturally. I think he has all it takes to be a premier investigator."

Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, Ph.D
University of California, San Francisco

DSA Collaborations

  • Chay Kuo


  • Vo BT, Wolf E, Kawauchi D, Gebhardt A, Rehg JE, Finkelstein D, Walz S, Murphy BL, Youn YH, Han YG, Eilers M, Roussel MF. The Interaction of Myc with Miz1 Defines Medulloblastoma Subgrouop Identity. Cancer Cell 29(1):5-16. 2016.
  • Wang L, Hou S, Han YG. Sonic hedgehog signaling promotes basal progenitor cell expansion and the growth and folding of the neocortex. Nat Neurosci. 19(8):1115, 2016.
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