Great Grads - Yi Duan

PhD, Biomedical Engineering

Yi Duan was a top student at China's Tianjin University of Commerce and Zhejiang University, where she earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees, respectively, in mechanical engineering. For her Ph.D., she chose to come to the United States and do kidney research because her mother had kidney disease and "I thought it would be nice to see if I could use my engineering skills to help her," she says.

Her search for a mentor led her to CCNY Distinguished Research Professor Sheldon Weinbaum. She joined his lab as a research assistant in 2003 and recently completed the requirements for a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Outside the lab, she served as President of the Chinese Student Scholar Association, a CUNY-wide organization with 500 student and faculty members.

For her dissertation, Yi studied one of the biggest mysteries confronting renal physiologists; how kidney cells sense and respond to changes in urinary flow. She identified a projection structure on top of proximal tubule cells called brush border microvilli that senses flow and transmits a hydrodynamic signal into the kidney cell. While not related to kidney pathology, her discovery advanced knowledge of how a basic function of the kidney works.

Coming to CCNY not only afforded Yi the opportunity to study with top scholars like Professor Weinbaum, but also to work collaboratively with scientists in other disciplines at institutions like Yale University, where she conducted her experiments, and currently is a post-doc. In July, she will begin a new post-doc position doing stem cell and tissue engineering research at Columbia University.

"At CCNY I got to work with biologists, physiologists, engineers and mathematicians," she said. "It was a very good learning process."


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 Yi Duan

"At CCNY I got to work with biologists, physiologists, engineers and mathematicians. It was a very good learning process."
- Yi Duan