Yana Cen
Assistant Professor
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Faculty/Staff picture
  • School of Pharmacy - Dept of Medicinal Chemistry
    BioTech One, Suite 205
    800 E. Leigh St.
    Box 980540
    Richmond, VA 23298-0540
  •  (804) 828-7405

Area of Focus

  • Epigenetics, Sirtuins, Chemical Biology


  • B.S., Chemistry (Beijing Normal University, 1998)
  • M.S., Organic Chemistry (Beijing Normal University, 2001)
  • Ph.D., Organic Chemistry (Michigan State University, 2006)

Post-Graduate Training

  • Postdoctoral - Pharmacology (Cornell Medical School, 2011)

Professional Experience

  • (2011 - 2012) Instructor, Cornell Medical School
  • (2012 - 2014) Research Scientist II, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • (2014 - 2019) Assistant Professor, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • (2019 - Present) Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Interests

  • Design and Synthesis of Chemical Probes for Epigenetic Modification Enzymes
  • Development of Chemical Tools to Study DNA Modifications
  • Targeting NAD metabolism for Drug Discovery


Books/Book Chapters

  • Cen, Y., “Natural Products as CNS Stimulants” In Pharmacognosy; Zhang, Y. Eds.; Cognella Academic Publishing: San Diego, California, USA.


  • Sauve, A. A.; Cen, Y., “2-Fluorinated Riboses and Arabinoses and Methods of Use and Synthesis”, U.S. Patent No. 9,790,252
  • Sauve, A. A.; Cen, Y., “Reagents and Methods for Sirtuin Capture”, U.S. Patent No. 9,290,791

Recent Publications

  • Sharma, C.; Hamza, A.; Boyle, E.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Post-translational Modifications and Diabetes”, Biomolecules, 2024, 14, 310.
  • Kang, W.; Hamza, A.; Curry, A. M.; Korade, E.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Activation of SIRT6 Deacetylation by DNA Strand Breaks”, ACS Omega, 2023, 8, 41310-41320.
  • Curry, A.; Rymarchyk, S.; Herrington, N.; Donu, D.; Kellogg, G.; Cen, Y.*, “Nicotinamide Riboside Activates SIRT5 Deacetylation”, The FEBS Journal, 2023, June 8. doi:10.1111/febs.16887. Epub ahead of print.
  • Tran, A.; Gao, S.; Shek, R.; Zheng, S.; Cen, Y.*; French, J. B.*, “Dual-function Probes to Tag, Isolate and Identify Nucleobase-binding Proteins” (January 19, 2023), available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4329400 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4329400.
  • Sharma, C.; Donu, D.; Curry, A.; Barton, E.; Cen, Y.*, “Multifunctional Activity-based Chemical Probes for Sirtuins”, RSC Advances, 2023, 13, 11771-11781.
  • Kellogg, G. E.; Cen, Y.; Dukat, M.; Ellis, K. C.; Guo, Y.; Li, J.; May, A. E.; Safo, M. K.; Zhang, S.; Zhang, Y.; Desai, U.; “Merging Cultures and Disciplines to Create a Drug Discovery Ecosystem at Virginia Commonwealth University: Medicinal Chemistry, Structural Biology, Molecular and Behavioral Pharmacology and Computational Chemistry”, SLAS Discovery, in press.
  • Szymanski, M.; Karlowicz, A.; Herrmann, G.; Cen, Y.*; Yin, W., “Human EXOG possesses strong AP hydrolysis activity – implication on mitochondrial DNA base excision repair”, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022, 144, 23543-23550.
  • Sharma, C.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Emerging Role of Nicotinamide Riboside in Health and Diseases”, Nutrients, 2022, 14, 3889
  • Donu, D.; Sharma, C.; Cen, Y.*, “Plasmodium falciparum Nicotinamidase as A Novel Antimalarial Target”, Biomolecules, 2022, 12, 1109.
  • White, D. S.; Mongeluzi, D.; Curry, A. M.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Facile Synthesis of Photoactivatable Adenosine Analogs”, RSC Advances, accepted.
  • Curry, A.; Cohen, I.; Zheng, S.; Wohlfahrt, J.; White, D.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Profiling Sirtuin Activity Using Copper-free Click Chemistry”, Bioorganic Chemistry, 2021, 117, 105413.
  • Curry, A.; White, D.; Donu, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Human Sirtuin Regulators: the Success Stories”, Frontier in Physiology, 2021, Oct. 21, https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.752117.
  • Curry, A.; White, D.; Cen, Y.*, “Small Molecule Regulators Targeting NAD+ Biosynthetic Enzymes”, Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2021, online ahead of print. doi:10.2174/0929867328666210531144629.
  • Rymarchyk, S.; Kang, W.; Cen, Y.*, “Substrate-dependent Sensitivity of SIRT1 to Nicotinamide Inhibition”, Biomolecules, 2021, 11, 312.
  • Curry, A. M.; Barton, E.; Kang, W.; Mongeluzi, D. V.; Cen, Y.*, "Development of Second Generation Activity-based Chemical Probes for Sirtuins", Molecules, https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/1/11.
  • Hoyle, R.; Wang, H.; Cen, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Li, J., “IOX1 Suppresses Wnt Target Gene Transcription and Colorectal Cancer Tumorigenesis Through Inhibition of KDM3”, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-20-0328.
  • Carraway, H.; Malkaram, S.; Cen, Y.; Fan, J.; Ali, H.; Abd Elmageed, Z.; Buttolph, T.; Shatnawi, A.; Denvir, J.; Primerano, D.; Fandy, T., “Activation of SIRT6 by DNA hypomethylating agents and clinical consequences on combination therapy”, Scientific Reports, 2020, 10, 10325.
  • Zheng, S.; Wohlfahrt, J.; Cohen, I.; Cen, Y.*, “Methods for Studying Human Sirtuins with Activity-based Chemical Probes”, Methods in Enzymology, 2020, 633, 251-269.
  • Tran, A.; Yokose, R.; Cen, Y.*, “Chemo-enzymatic Synthesis of Isotopically Labeled Nicotinamide Riboside”, Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 2018, 16, 3662-3671.
  • Graham, E.; Rymarchyk, S.; Wood, M.; Cen, Y.*, “Development of Activity-Based Chemical Probes for Human Sirtuins”, ACS Chemical Biology, 2018, 13, 782-792.
  • Wood, M.; Rymarchyk, S.; Zheng, S.; Cen, Y.*, “Trichostatin A inhibits deacetylation of histone H3 and p53 by SIRT6”, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2018, 638, 8-17.