Fei Yin

Associate Professor - Tucson
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine Tucson
Assistant Director for Translational Neuroscience, Center for Innovation in Brain Science (CIBS)

Research Summary

Dr. Yin has deep expertise in neuro-metabolism and mitochondrial biology, a demonstrated track record in investigating the role of brain bioenergetics and metabolic reprogramming in neurodegeneration, and an interdisciplinary background across neuroscience, pharmacology, and data science. Dr. Yin’s major research interest is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with the long-term goal of developing disease-modifying AD therapeutics.

Supported primarily by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), ongoing research in the Yin lab focuses on the role of brain lipid metabolism in AD and its interaction with neuroinflammation and major disease risk factors. Dr. Yin and his team have revealed the mechanism by which APOE4 –the greatest genetic risk factor of AD– disrupts brain lipid homeostasis and elevates AD risk (Qi et al., Cell Rep. 2021). More recently, they further discovered loss of lipid degradation by astrocytic mitochondria as a mechanism that triggers progressive neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration recapitulating human AD (Mi et al., Nat Metab, 2023). Harnessing these conceptual advances, Dr. Yin’s team is now developing novel AD therapeutics by restoring the lipid homeostasis in the degenerating brain. As part of a NIH-funded program project, the Yin lab is also investigating the unique role of glial cells and APOE4 in modulating the neuroimmune system during female perimenopausal transition, and how they interactively predispose APOE4-carrying postmenopausal women to a substantially elevated AD risk.


BS, Biochemistry, Nanjing University, 2005

MS, Regulatory Science, University of Southern California, 2010

PhD, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California, 2012

Post-doc, Neuroscience, University of Southern California, 2017

MS, Computer Science, University of Southern California, 2018

Representative Recent Publications:

Mi Y, Qi G, Vitali F, Shang Y, Raikes AC, Wang T, Jin Y, Brinton RD, Gu H, Yin F*. Loss of fatty acid degradation by astrocytic mitochondria triggers neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Nat Metab. 2023 March; 5(3):445-465. PMID: 36959514.

Featured in News & Views: Rubio-Atonal, LF, Ioannou, MS. Astrocytic OxPhos: more than just energy production. Nat Metab. 2023 March; 5(3):362-363.

Yin F*. Lipid Metabolism and Alzheimer's Disease: Clinical Evidence, Mechanistic Link and Therapeutic Promise. FEBS J. 2023 Mar;290(6):1420-1453. (Invited State-of-the-Art Review). PMID: 34997690.

Qi G, Mi Y, Yin F*. Characterizing Brain Metabolic Function Ex Vivo with Acute Mouse Slice Punches. STAR Protoc. 2021 May 23;2(2):100559. PMID: 34095867.

Liu X, Li X, Xia B, Jin X, Zou Q, Zeng Z, Zhao W, Yan S, Li L, Yuan S, Zhao S, Dai X, Yin F, Cadenas E, Liu RH, Zhao B, Hou M, Liu Z, Liu X. High-fiber diet mitigates maternal obesity-induced cognitive and social dysfunction in the offspring via gut-brain axis. Cell Metab. 2021 May 4;33(5):923-938.e6. PMID: 33651981.

Qi G, Mi Y, Shi X, Gu H, Brinton RD, Yin F*. ApoE4 Impairs Neuron-Astrocyte Coupling of Fatty Acid Metabolism. Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 5;34(1):108572. PMID: 33406436.

Mi Y, Qi G, Brinton RD, Yin F*. Mitochondria Targeted Therapeutics for Alzheimer’s Disease: The Good. The Bad. The Potential. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2021 Mar 6;34(8):611-630. doi: 10.1089/ars.2020.8070. PMID: 32143551.

Liu Z, Dai X, Zhang H, Shi R, Hui Y, Jin X, Zhang W, Wang L, Wang Q, Wang D, Wang J, Tan X, Ren B, Liu X, Zhao T, Wang J, Pan J, Yuan T, Chu C, Lan L, Yin F, Cadenas E, Shi L, Zhao S, Liu X. Gut microbiota mediates intermittent-fasting alleviation of diabetes-induced cognitive impairment. Nat Commun. 2020 Feb 18;11(1):855. PMID: 32071312

Qi G, Mi Y, Yin F*. Cellular Specificity and Inter-cellular Coordination in the Brain Bioenergetic System: Implications for Aging and Neurodegeneration. Front Physiol. 2020 Jan 8;10:1531.  PMID: 31969828.

Research Interests: 
Biomedical informatics
Molecular medicine