Mutations in the BRCA1 gene account for more than 30 percent of hereditary ovarian cancer and loss of BRCA1 expression has been shown in 30 percent to 60 percent of sporadic [or non-hereditary] ovarian cancers, the more common types of ovarian cancer. As such, it is believed BRCA1 plays a key role in both hereditary and sporadic ovarian cancer development. But why BRCA1-deficiency leads to the development of cancer is not clearly understood. Dr. Yang’s research is focused on understanding the molecular explanation behind BRCA1 deficiency and ovarian cancer. He has found that the absence of BRCA1 leads to the activation of another molecular pathway in the cell called AKT1, which causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. The presence of BRCA1 normally would put the brakes on AKT1. In his project, he will try to further characterize the relationship between BRCA1 and AKT1, findings that should provide insight for both hereditary and sporadic ovarian cancer and targets for drugs that work on these pathways.