Who is Yuan Chang?
Chang was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to the United States as a young child. She was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and received an MD from the University of Utah College of Medicine. In 1994, she co-discovered KSHV, also called human herpesvirus-8, working with her husband Patrick S. Moore at Columbia University. Chang trained in neuropathology at Stanford University under the noted clinical neuropathologist, Dikran Houroupian, publishing studies on eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. During this period she contributed to studies led by her friend, Julie Parsonnet, showing that Helicobacter pylori is a cause for gastric cancer. She moved to Columbia University to pursue her first academic appointment as a clinician-scientist. Although initially interested in using representational difference analysis to study the genetic origins of brain tumors, she applied this technique to Kaposi's sarcoma resulting in the discovery of this new human tumor virus. Drs. Chang, Moore and collaborators subsequently showed that this virus was the etiologic agent of Kaposi's sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma, while others showed it to be the cause of some forms of multicentric Castleman's disease. From two small DNA fragments representing less than 1% of the viral genome, she cloned the entire KSHV 165 kbase genome and fully sequenced the virus genome within two years after its initial discovery. This led to blood tests to detect infection for this virus, discovery of viral proteins likely to cause cancer and elucidation of the role of immune evasion in carcinogenesis caused by virus infection.