Wei Li, Ph.D.

Wei Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics And Biochemistry And Molecular Biology


500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033

Email: [email protected]


  • 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.”

Milestones & Awards


  • New Investigator Award (Department of Defense, USA)


  • Emerging Investigator Fellowship Grant (Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation)
  • Institutional 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.)

Meghan Rose Bradley Foundation
“The Role of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in Pediatric High Grade Gliomas”

NINDS 1R01NS109147-01
“The role of NONO in TAZ-driven glioma malignant transformation”

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 since 2014:

Zhijun Liu, Yiju Wei, Lei Zhang, Patricia P. Yee, Martin Johnson, Xuexin Zhang, Melissa Gulley, Jennifer M Atkinson, Mohamed Trebak, Hong-Gang Wang and Wei Li. 2019. Induction of store operated calcium entry (SOCE) suppresses glioblastoma growth by inhibiting the Hippo pathway transcriptional coactivators YAP/TAZ. Oncogene, 38(1):120-139. PMCID: PMC6318057

Zhijun Liu, Patricia P. Yee, Yiju Wei, Zhenqiu Liu, Yuka Imamura Kawasawa, Wei Li . 2019. Differential YAP expression in glioma cells induces cell competition and promotes tumorigenesis. Journal of Cell Science, doi: 10.1242/jcs.225714. PMID: 30665893

Lei Zhang, Fangling Cheng, Yiju Wei, Lijun Zhang, Dongsheng Guo, Baofeng Wang, Wei Li. 2018. Inhibition of TAZ contributes radiation-induced senescence and growth arrest in glioma cells. Oncogene, doi.org/10.1038/s41388-018-0626-0. PMID: 30542117

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

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

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