Yolanda Huang PhD

Yolanda Huang

Yolanda Huang

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Bioinformatics; Genome-wide Screening; Genomics; Infectious Diseases; Mass Spectrometry; Metabolism; Microbial Pathogenesis; Microbiology; Molecular genetics; Protein Function and Structure

Contact Information
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Room 5227
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-829-6061

Professional Summary:

Bacteria and bacterial viruses (phages) are the most abundant members of the gut microbiota and are important drivers of human health. Despite the large amounts of sequencing and -omics data available on the human gut microbiome, it remains challenging to identify the molecular mechanism underlying associations between specific microbes and disease states. A major barrier in the field is our inability to readily infer function from sequencing data since microbes are extremely diverse with poorly annotated genomes. Furthermore, predicting gene functions often requires mechanistic knowledge of the protein family and phenotypic data, which can be difficult to obtain. To address these challenges, the Huang lab uses multidisciplinary approaches including functional genomics, genetics, biochemistry, and bioinformatics to study new pathways encoded in gut bacteria and phages.

We developed a high-throughput functional genomics platform, Barcoded Overexpression BActerial Shotgun Library Sequencing (Boba-seq), to interrogate gene functions at scale in a prominent group of gut anaerobes, Bacteroidales. These bacteria are highly abundant in the gut and are mostly associated with health due to their diverse repertoires of metabolic pathways and ability to access host-recalcitrant polysaccharides. DNA barcoding reduces the cost and increases the throughput of genome-wide genetic screens drastically. A major focus of the lab is to elucidate new roles and functions of genes important for nutrient acquisition and stress tolerance. We are also interested in identifying factors involved in bacteria-phage interactions. Phages are important members of the gut microbiota, but how they influence bacterial physiology and composition remains poorly understood.

The overarching goal in the lab is to advance our fundamental knowledge of molecular mechanisms underlying host-microbe-phage interactions. This will help us to better understand and predict the composition and functions of microbial communities under constant selections from microbial, host, and environmental factors.

Education and Training:

  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2023)
  • Student, Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structures (STAMPS), Marine Biological Laboratory (2023)
  • PhD, Chemical Biology, Harvard University (2018)
  • Student, Microbial Diversity, Marine Biological Laboratory (2015)
  • BS, Biochemistry, Honours, McGill University (2013)


  • Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, State University of New York at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2023-present)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2019–2023)
  • Graduate student, Chemical Biology, Harvard University (2013–2018)

Awards and Honors:

  • Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF) Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020)
  • Travel Award, ASBMB Annual Meeting (2018)
  • NSERC Doctoral Graduate Research Fellowship (2016)
  • Christensen Travel Prize (2016)
  • Abigail Salyers and Simons MD Scholarship Fund (2015)
  • NSERC Master’s Graduate Research Fellowship (2013)
  • First Class Honours in Biochemistry (2013)
  • Society of Chemical Industry Merit Award (2013)
  • Centre for Global Change Science Internship Award (2012)
  • NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (2011)
  • Dean’s Honour List (2009)

Research Expertise:

  • Bioinformatics: sequencing, genomes, metagenomes, 16S, fitness analysis of pooled libraries
  • Functional genomics: DNA barcoding, high-throughput fitness assays
  • Gut anaerobes: genetics, biochemistry
  • Gut microbiota: Bacteroidales, phages, bacteria-phage interactions
  • Protein biochemistry: metabolic pathways for nutrient acquisition in the gut, stress tolerance, colonization factors

Journal Articles:

Professional Memberships:

  • Western New York branch, American Society for Microbiology; Member (2023–present)
  • International Society of Microbial Ecology; Member (2022)
  • American Society for Microbiology; Member (2019–present)
  • American Chemical Society; Member (2018–present)

Service Activities:

  • mBio; Early-Career Editorial Board (2024–2025)
  • Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology; Review Editor (2024–present)
  • TechWomen Emerging Leaders, LBNL; Career panelist (2023)
  • Microbial Diversity course, Marine Biological Laboratory; Teaching Assistant (2023)
  • eLife; Early Career Reviewer (2022–present)
  • Journal of American Chemical Society; Reviewer (2022–present)
  • Journal of Applied Microbiology; Reviewer (2021–present)
  • Applied and Environmental Microbiology; Reviewer (2021–present)
  • STAR Protocols; Reviewer (2021–present)
  • Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement in STEM (SAGE-S) Summer Camp, LBNL; Volunteer (2020–2023)
  • Bio-protocol; Reviewer (2020–present)
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry; Early Career Reviewer (2019–2023)
  • Clubes de Ciencia Perú; Instructor (2017)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Room 5227
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-829-6061