A photo of Yu Lan.

Yu Lan, PhD

  • Member, Division of Plastic Surgery
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Surgery
  • UC Department of Pediatrics



My research interests are in the areas of genetics and developmental biology of congenital disorders. The research projects in my laboratory focus on understanding the causes and developmental mechanisms underlying cleft palate and other craniofacial disorders. I have been conducting research for more than 30 years and have worked at Cincinnati Children’s since 2011.

During my postdoctoral fellowship, I received training in Drosophila (fruit fly) genetics and mouse developmental genetics. I then began to focus my research on congenital craniofacial malformations. These developmental disorders are common and disfiguring, yet the causes underlying most craniofacial disorders are unknown.

Some of my career highlights include:

  • The identification of several key regulators of craniofacial and palate development through expression screening of putative transcription factors during palate development in mouse embryos followed by generation and analyses of gene-knockout mice.
  • The demonstration of how even ubiquitously-expressed factors, such as the Golgi-associated protein Golgb1, play critical and specific roles in palate development using a mutagenesis screen followed by whole exome-sequencing based mutant gene discovery and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic validation.
  • The generation of unique genetically-engineered mice that enabled tissue-specific analyses of the molecular mechanisms regulating palate development.

My research has been primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I received the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Trustee Award from 2013-2015. I have also received grants from the NIH to study the mechanisms of craniofacial and skeletal development from 2013-2016 (R03 DE023864) and for 2018-2021(R21 HD091263).

Besides conducting cutting-edge research to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of craniofacial developmental disorders, I enjoy training and interacting with students and junior researchers. Our lab's training and research experiences have helped several research assistants and summer student interns gain admission into medical or graduate schools to further pursue their independent careers in research or medicine.

BS: Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.

MS: Chinese Academy Sciences, Beijing, China.

PhD: University of Maine, Orono, ME.

Post-doc trainings: Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT; The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME.

Research Areas

Plastic Surgery, Developmental Biology


Sonic hedgehog signaling in craniofacial development. Xu, J; Iyyanar, PP R; Lan, Y; Jiang, R. Differentiation; Research in Biological Diversity. 2023; 133:60-76.

The transcription factors Foxf1 and Foxf2 integrate the SHH, HGF and TGFβ signaling pathways to drive tongue organogenesis. Xu, J; Liu, H; Lan, Y; Jiang, R. Development (Cambridge). 2022; 149:dev200667.

MSX1 Drives Tooth Morphogenesis Through Controlling Wnt Signaling Activity. Lee, JM; Qin, C; Chai, OH; Lan, Y; Jiang, R; Kwon, HJ E. Critical reviews in oral biology and medicine : an official publication of the American Association of Oral Biologists. 2022; 101:832-839.

Alx1 Deficient Mice Recapitulate Craniofacial Phenotype and Reveal Developmental Basis of ALX1-Related Frontonasal Dysplasia. Iyyanar, PP R; Wu, Z; Lan, Y; Hu, YC; Jiang, R. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2022; 10:777887.

Mouse models in palate development and orofacial cleft research: Understanding the crucial role and regulation of epithelial integrity in facial and palate morphogenesis. Lan, Y; Jiang, R. Current Topics in Developmental Biology. 2022; 148:13-50.

The Scleraxis Transcription Factor Directly Regulates Multiple Distinct Molecular and Cellular Processes During Early Tendon Cell Differentiation. Liu, H; Xu, J; Lan, Y; Lim, HW; Jiang, R. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2021; 9:654397.

Cis-Repression of Foxq1 Expression Affects Foxf2-Mediated Gene Expression in Palate Development. Xu, J; Liu, H; Lan, Y; Jiang, R. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2021; 9:665109.

Tissue-specific analysis of Fgf18 gene function in palate development. Yue, M; Lan, Y; Liu, H; Wu, Z; Imamura, T; Jiang, R. Developmental Dynamics. 2021; 250:562-573.

Generation and characterization of Six2 conditional mice. Li, C; Liu, H; Hu, Y; Lan, Y; Jiang, R. Genesis: the Journal of Genetics and Development. 2020; 58:e23365.

Genome-wide Identification of Foxf2 Target Genes in Palate Development. Xu, J; Liu, H; Lan, Y; Park, JS; Jiang, R. Critical reviews in oral biology and medicine : an official publication of the American Association of Oral Biologists. 2020; 99:463-471.