Dr. Yan attended graduate school at Texas Tech University, where he earned his doctoral degree in Human Nutrition. Dr. Yan completed his post-doctoral training in the area of selenium and cancer biology at Rutgers University. After that he was a research faculty member at Creighton University School of Medicine and a Nutrition Scientist at Solae Company. In 2007 Dr. Yan joined the staff at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center as a Research Nutritionist. Dr. Yan conducts research in the area of diet, physical exercise and cancer prevention.
Dr. Yan's research interests are in the area of diet, physical exercise and cancer prevention. The prevalence of obesity in Western countries including the United States, has reached epidemic proportions. Obesity is associated with a low-grade pro-inflammatory metabolic state that contributes to chronic diseases including cancer. Dr. Yan currently investigates the roles of dietary modification (e.g. energy balance or selenium supplementation) and physical exercise in the prevention of obesity-enhanced secondary tumor development and growth in animal models. Furthermore, Dr. Yan conducts meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies to assess soy consumption in association with cancer risk in human populations.
Another area of Dr. Yan's research is selenium bioavailability from foods produced in Northern Plains, a major agricultural area growing foods widely consumed by all Americans and with soils rich in selenium. Understanding the bioavailability of selenium from this natural resource will lead to future studies on the health benefits of these value-added high-selenium agricultural products (e.g. wheat, soy, beans, peas, lentils).
Demonstrated that diet-induced obesity enhances secondary tumor development and growth in animal models. This enhanced aggressiveness is accompanied with increases in plasma angiogenic cytokines, suggesting the role of diet-induced obesity in angiogenesis during the process of cancer development and growth.
Demonstrated that selenium from crops (e.g. soybeans, peas, and oats) produced in Northern Plains are highly bioavailable compared to selenomethionine, a food form of selenium, and that crops produced in high-selenium soils of Northern Plains can be good dietary sources of selenium.
Demonstrated that soy consumption is associated with a reduction in prostate, colorectal and breast cancer risk in humans from meta-analysis of publicly available population studies.
Demonstrated that dietary supplementation with selenium, soy, flaxseed or their bioactive components reduces secondary tumor development and growth in animal models. These studies suggest that foods and their constituents may be useful as a nutritional adjuvant in reducing the risk of secondary cancer.