Professor Alpha Yap is a cell biologist. After training in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Cell Physiology, he undertook postdoctoral research with Barry Gumbiner at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York) before returning to Australia to establish his independent research group.

His research is at the leading edge of a rapidly developing field of science called mechanobiology. Mechanobiology explores how mechanical forces influence biology. Professor Yap is particularly interested in understanding how cells communicate by exerting force upon one another.

Collaborating across disciplines with colleagues from physics, developmental biology and mathematics, his research group has been instrumental in discovering how mechanical forces are generated, and sensed, to coordinate cell behaviour in tissues. Focusing on the epithelial tissues that are the major barriers of the body, Professor Yap believes that their cells monitor force to detect changes in the health of the tissue. This has important implications for understanding diseases such as cancer and inflammation.

Professor Yap currently serves on the editorial boards of several major international journals, amongst them Developmental Cell, Current Biology and Molecular Biology of the Cell.

He was the recipient of the 2013 President’s Medal of the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology and is a Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.



Researcher biography

My group studies the role of cadherin cell adhesion molecules in morphogenesis and tumor development. E-cadherin is a key mediator of cell-cell recognition. It participates in tissue patterning and its dysfunction contributes to tumor progression and invasion.

Associate Professor Yap is the group leader for Cadherin cell adhesion molecules, Epithelial morphogenesis & Cell locomotion research at the IMB.