Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Emory University, Atlanta
Molecular Virology, Peking Union Medical College, China

Areas of Interest

Research Interests

Mechanisms of Cancer Pathogenesis

Research Information

Mechanisms of Cancer Pathogenesis

Dr. Li’s laboratory is currently investigating molecular and cellular mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis and developing new therapies for human cancers, including pancreatic cancer and brain tumor. The research in Li’s laboratory has both basic and translational components and expands in multiple directions, which include zinc transport, nutrition uptake and metabolism, protein-protein interaction, microRNA, drug resistance, cancer prevention and therapy (shRNA therapy, small molecule therapy, and nutrition/diet prevention and therapy). Li’s laboratory is funded by both the NIH/NCI (R01CA138701, R21CA133604) as well as private foundations.

Ongoing research projects

  • Role of zinc transporter ZIP4 in human pancreatic cancer and brain tumor pathogenesis and progression.
  • MicroRNAs and pancreatic cancer/brain tumor.
  • Developing ZIP4-based combinational therapy for cancer treatment.


Publication Information


  • Zhang Y, Bharadwa U, Logsdon CD, Chen C, Yao Q, and Li M. ZIP4 Regulates Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth by Activating IL-6/STAT3 Pathway via Zinc Finger Transcription Factor CREB. Clin Cancer Res, 2010 Mar 1;16(5):1423-30.
  • Zhang Y, Li W, Chen C, Yao Q, and Li M. ZIP4 Upregulates the Expression of Neuropilin-1, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, and Matrix Metalloproteases in Pancreatic Cancer Cell Lines and Xenografts. Can Biol Ther. 2010 Feb 25;9(3):235-241.
  • Yu X, Zhang Y, Chen C, Yao Q, and Li M. Targeted Drug Delivery in Pancreatic Cancer. Biochim Biophys Acta (BBA) Reviews on Cancer. 1805 (2010) 97-104.
  • Li M, Zhang Y, Bharadwa U, Zhai Q, Ahern C, Fisher WE, Brunicardi FC, Logsdon CD, Chen C, Yao Q. Down-regulation of ZIP4 by RNA Interference Inhibits Pancreatic Cancer Growth and Increases the Survival of Nude Mice with Pancreatic Cancer Xenografts. Clin Cancer Res. 2009, 15(19):5993-6001.
  • Li M, Wang X, Li W, Li F, Yang H, Brunicardi FC, Chen C, Yao Q, Fisher W. Somatostatin Receptor-1 Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Inhibits Tumor Growth in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer Science. 2008 Nov;99(11):2218-23.
  • Zhang Y, Feurino LW, Zhai Q, Wang H, Fisher WE, Chen C, Yao Q, and Li M. Thymosin Beta 4 is Overexpressed in Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells and Stimulates Proinflammatory Cytokine Secretion and JNK Activation. Cancer Biol Ther. 2008 Mar;7(3):419-23.
  • Li M, Zhang Y, Liu Z, Bharadwa U, Wang H, Wang X, Zhang S, Liuzzi JP, Chang SM, Cousins RJ, Fisher WE, Brunicardi FC, Logsdon CD, Chen C, and Yao Q. Aberrant Expression of Zinc Transporter ZIP4 (SLC39A4) Significantly Contributes to Human Pancreatic Cancer Pathogenesis and Progression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007, 104(47):18636-18641 (featured in Highlight in this issue).
  • Feurino L, Zhang Y, Bharadwaj U, Zhang R, Li F, Fisher WE, Brunicardi FC, Chen C, Yao, Q, Li M. IL-6 stimulates Th2 type cytokine secretion and upregulates VEGF and NRP-1 expression in pancreatic cancer cells. Cancer Biol Ther. 2007, 6(7):1096-1100.