Wei Yang is a structural biologist specializing in studies of DNA replication, repair and recombination. She has been a senior scientist in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, since 1995. She was born in Shanghai, China and is a naturalized US citizen. She began her undergraduate studies of biochemistry at Fudan University in Shanghai before transferring to SUNY at Stony Brook to complete her B.A. degree. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University and held postdoctoral fellowships both at Columbia and Yale Universities. In 2011 she received the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society.

Research Interests

Dr. Yang's current research centers on understanding the molecular mechanisms of various types of genetic rearrangement and of repair of damaged DNA, including the repair of mistakes made during DNA replication. Her studies employ a multifaceted approach for analyzing the structures and activities of protein and nucleic acid molecules, including X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, molecular biology, enzymology, and protein and nucleic acid chemistry. She has shown how different repair processes and directional motions are coupled to the energy supply of the cell, and how lesions in DNA can be avoided and bypassed by specialized synthetic enzymes. Her research group has described how the substrate specificity of many enzymes is determined by a stringent requirement for a pair of metal ions held in a particular conformation. Recently her team made use of crystallographic techniques to obtain the first atomic-resolution and time-resolved picture of DNA synthesis, displaying transient interactions that are essential for the addition of each new nucleotide unit.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry

Secondary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology