Li Li

Li Li

Li Li, PhD., MD., MSc.
Research Associate II

My pursuit of medicine started when I was an early teenager. For generations, My family had a history of practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and they developed a reputation for curing kidney stones. Following in the footsteps of my elders, I learned and practiced acupuncture on my own extremities under their supervision.

I also learned to recognize a variety of medicinal herbs and insects, which to me were fascinating to realize the magical healing power of nature. Under my family’s influence, I also had a fundamental understanding of the medical standards of hygiene and became somewhat of a “clean freak” at school.

In 2000, I was accepted to The First Military Medical University in Guangdong Province. I was one of the two females selected out of Liaoning Province, which had more than 40 million inhabitants at the time.

I majored in Clinical Medicine and my passion quickly became surgical oncology. I focused on colorectal cancer during my two-year internship at The First General Military Hospital in Guangzhou and The Second Artillery General Hospital in Beijing.

During the clinical practice, I was shocked to learn just how limited the treatment options are. This motivated me to want to find new treatments for patients. I shifted gears toward cancer research and obtained an MSc in Biomedical Sciences from Bradford University, West Yorkshire, England.

Following that program, I worked as a research assistant testing a series of drugs against different types of tumor cells. Our goal was to establish the relationships between chemical structure and cytotoxicity. To complete my understanding of pre-clinical aspects of cancer, I moved on to translational oncology and earned my PhD in Experimental Surgical Oncology at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2013.

As a post-doc, my focus was on small animal surgeries at the Department of Radiation Oncology, at Duke Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. A move to Colorado State University has afforded me the chance to study cancer from a new angle.

At Flint Animal Cancer Center, I work in the biorepository lab. Our goal is to accumulate, curate, and store samples from patients with cancer evaluated at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. Thousands of samples of tumor/normal tissue and associated fluids in a variety of formats are now available for researchers at the FACC and elsewhere to use in studies related to cancer.

My work is in collecting clinical samples from our patients and helping to facilitate research projects. I consider this job at FACC the missing link for my global view on cancer. In this role, I bridge the gap between the research we’re doing in the laboratory and patients in the clinic. Every day my goal is to learn and help the fight against cancer.

Moving from Asia to Europe, and then, to America, my world has been continuously changing in front of my eyes. However, there has been only one unshakable focus in my view – my participation in the war against cancer. No matter how minuscule, I am in the fight with you.

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