Department Mourns the Passing of Innovative Translational Scientist and Colleague, Dr. Jeffrey Yao

The Department of Psychiatry is mourning the recent passing of Jeffrey Yao, PhD, an esteemed member of our faculty and an international expert in the field of psychopharmacology. Dr. Yao was a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) where he also directed the Neurochemistry and Psychopharmacology Laboratory for over 30 years, and was a Research Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Yao was recognized internationally for his groundbreaking research focusing on the biochemical aspects of disease processes that are related to mental illness and neurological disorders. His investigations uncovered valuable insights on the pathophysiology of mental illness and neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Dr. Yao applied novel, multi-dimensional approaches to generate metabolic profiles of biomarkers and metabolic maps that could be used to identify specific genes responsible for psychiatric disorders. His most recent work focused on the application of metabolomics in psychosis and therapeutic monitoring, and clinical improvements in schizophrenia with omega-3 fatty acids. His findings substantially contributed to our understanding of the effects of therapeutic, nutritional, toxicological, and environmental interventions in schizophrenia, and to the development of new tools for early diagnosis and treatment. 

Dr. Yao’s impressive publication portfolio includes over 160 peer reviewed articles and other scholarly publications. His research career is remarkable not only in terms of his productivity, but also for the significance and scope of his contributions.

Dr. Yao’s legacy includes not only his significant scientific accomplishments, but also his dedication to medical education, training and mentorship. His superb teaching skills and thoughtful mentorship have had a significant impact on the training and careers of numerous graduate students, junior research scientists, and health care providers. 

In recognition of his academic productivity and many scientific achievements, Dr. Yao was presented with numerous honors and awards including the Ninth Pittsburgh Schizophrenia Research Award, and VA Research Career Scientist and VA Senior Research Career Scientist awards. 

Dr. Yao’s work will have a lasting influence on the research and practice of neuropsychopharmacology for years to come.