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Ludwig Oxford Professor Yang Shi has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to epigenetics research


The Royal Society, the UK’s distinguished academy of science, has announced the election of 62 new Fellows and Foreign Members, which include Professor Yang Shi FRS.

Yang has long since held a strong interest in identifying key epigenetic regulators in cancer, determining their mechanism of action and providing the conceptual basis for translating basic findings to the clinic by the development of new therapeutic strategies. Yang’s team made the discovery of the first histone methyl eraser (LSD1) in 2004, and have since demonstrated that histone methylation is dynamically regulated, overturning the long-held dogma that such modifications were static and irreversible. Yang’s research also looks into the study of RNA modifications and how they impact gene expression regulation. Since joining Ludwig Oxford, the lab has focused on two cancers in particular - acute myeloid leukaemia and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – where chromatin and epigenetics have been shown to play a crucial role in the maintenance of a poorly differentiated state.

Find out more about Yang’s research here.

Yang is also an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and a Fellow of the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

I am delighted to receive this honour from the Royal Society. I am grateful for the help and support I have received from my mentors and colleagues throughout my career. My appreciation also goes to the Harvard Medical School where I began my independent research career, to the Boston Children’s Hospital where I spent the last 10 years or so before moving to UK, and to the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at University of Oxford where I am continuing my research journey with a stronger focus on cancer. As always, the biggest thanks must go to my wonderful students, postdoctoral fellows, and research assistants/lab managers, past and present. This honour is for them.

- Professor Yang Shi


The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship dating back to the 1660s that is dedicated to promoting excellence in science for the benefit of humanity. The Fellowship comprises the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. Former members include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking. This year, 70 Fellows, 22 Foreign Members and 2 Honorary Fellow have been elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of scientific excellence. There are approximately 1,800 Fellows and Foreign Members in total, including around 70 Nobel Laureates. These include Ludwig Oxford’s Professor Xin Lu, Director of the Oxford Branch of Ludwig Cancer Research, and Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe, a co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.


I am pleased to welcome such an outstanding group into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. This new cohort have already made significant contributions to our understanding of the world around us and continue to push the boundaries of possibility in academic research and industry. From visualising the sharp rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution to leading the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their diverse range of expertise is furthering human understanding and helping to address some of our greatest challenges. It is an honour to have them join the Fellowship.

- Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society


Nine academics from Oxford have been honoured in this year’s round of Royal Society Fellowship elections, including two from the Nuffield Department of Medicine. Find out more on the University of Oxford website.

For more information about the Royal Society and this year’s elected Fellows and Foreign Members, please see the Royal Society website.


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