Dr. Yael David is an Assistant Member at the Chemical Biology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an Assistant Professor at the Pharmacology Department at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. David performed her graduate training in biochemistry at The Weizmann Institute of Science, where her work focused on deconvoluting the complex enzymatic cascade that facilitates protein polyubiquitination and deubiquitination. Realizing the power of interdisciplinary research, she moved to Princeton University where she combined her experience in protein biochemistry with Prof. Tom Muir’s expertise in peptide chemistry. There, she developed innovative strategies to chemically and site-specifically modify histones in live cells utilizing ultra-fast split inteins, methods that open the door to performing research with chemical precision at a biochemical resolution and in a physiological context.
In late 2016 Dr. David established her independent lab at MSKCC where she works on implementing chemistry in biological research to address key questions in epigenetics by (1) developing and applying powerful chemical tools to investigate the mechanisms driving epigenetically regulated transcription and (2) characterize chemical modifications on chromatin that vitiate its function and ultimately lead to disease. Since its establishment, the David lab has made tremendous progress developing innovative in vitro and in vivo methodologies, including new chemical probes and the first ever synthesis of site-specifically modified histones in animal brain. They applied these and other chemical-biology methods to reveal that histones are primary targets for reactive sugars in the cell, which represent a new family of histone modifications. Their efforts thus far were recognized nationally and internationally by the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Alliance (PSSCA) (2019), American Chemical Society “Future of biochemistry” (2019) and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy among others.