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Wei Li, Ph.D.

Wei Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics and and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Wei Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics and and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Penn State College of Medicine

500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033



  • Postdoctoral Training, Cancer Cell Biology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York)  (2007-2015)
  • Ph.D., Molecular Genetics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York) (2007)
  • M.S.,  Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Peking University (China) (2001)


“Penn State’s commitment to childhood cancer research enables us to provide innovative treatment to all of our pediatric cancer patients.”



Awards Received
  • 2016 Emerging Investigator Fellowship Grant (Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation)
  • 2016 Instiutional Research Grant (American Cancer Society)
  • 2015-2018 Transition Career Development Award (National Cancer Institute)
  • 2014-2016 Career Development Award for Pediatric Cancer Research (AACR-Aflac, Inc.)
Grants Funded

DOD NF170073
“Identification and characterization of a novel post-translational modification of Merlin in tumor suppression”   
05/01/2018 – 04/30/2021 

“TRPM2, Mitochondria, and Cell Survival”   
$1,202,063 (TC)
B.A. Miller, Principal Investigator, 30% Effort

NCI 1K22CA190440
"The mechanism and function of cell competition in tumors"
75% PI salary covered
08/01/15 – 07/31/18

American Association for Cancer Research 14-20-10-LI
“The pro-oncogenic role of EZH2 and CRL4DCAF1 in NF2 mutant gliomas”
13% PI salary covered
07/01/14 – 06/30/16

American Cancer Society-Institutional Research Grant
“The role of the Hippo pathway in gliomas”
0% PI salary covered
12/1/2015 – 11/30/2016

Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation
“The pro-oncogenic role of EZH2 and CRL4DCAF1 in NF2 mutant gliomas”
0% PI salary covered
01/01/2016 – 12/31/2016



Research in Dr. Wei Li’s laboratory focuses on studying intercellular interactions during tissue homeostasis and determining how de-regulated interactions among cells promote cell transformation and tumor progression in brain cancer.

The goal of his research is to find molecular targets and biomarkers for cancer therapy. His laboratory integrates molecular, cellular, and biochemical approaches in combination with mouse tumorigenesis models.

Currently, one of his major focuses is elucidating the regulation and function of the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway in brain tumors, including gliomas and neurofibromatosis type 2 associated tumors. In addition, his laboratory utilizes in vitro and in vivo models to dissect biological interactions between heterogeneous malignant cells and to study functional consequences of intra-tumor heterogeneity.



The following are publications of Dr. Li’s lab:

Wei Li, Jonathan Cooper, Lu Zhou, Chenyi Yang, Hediye Erdjument-Bromage, David Zagzag, Matija Snuderl, Marc Ladanyi, C. Oliver Hanneman, Pengbo Zhou, Matthias A Karajannis, and Filippo G. Giancotti. Merlin/NF2-loss Driven Tumorigenesis Linked to CRL4DCAF1-Mediated Inhibition of the Hippo Pathway kinases Lats1 and 2 in the Nucleus. Cancer Cell, 26(1):48-60, 2014. PMID: 25026211

Abhijit Kale, Wei Li, Chang Hyun Lee and Nicholas E. Baker. Apoptotic mechanisms during competition of ribosomal protein mutant cells: roles of the initiator caspases Dronc and Dream/Strica. Cell Death & Differentiation, 22(8):1300-12, 2015. PMID: 25613379

Ying-Bei Chen, Jianing Xu, Anders Jacobsen Skanderup, Yiyu Dong, A. Rose Brannon, Lu Wang, Helen H. Won, Patricia I. Wang, Gouri J. Nanjangud, Achim A. Jungbluth, Wei Li, Virginia Ojeda, A. Ari Hakimi, Martin H. Voss, Nikolaus Schultz, Robert J. Motzer, Paul Russo, Emily H. Cheng, Filippo G. Giancotti, William Lee, Michael F. Berger, Satish K. Tickoo, Victor E.Reuter and James J. Hsieh. 2016. Molecular analysis of aggressive renal cell carcinoma with unclassified histology reveals distinct subsets. Nature Communications, 7:13131. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13131. PMID: 27713405

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