Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine

Willis Li, Ph.D.





  1. JAK/STAT signaling and innate immunity
  2. Epigenetic Mechanisms of Tumor Suppression and Tumorigenesis
  3. Role of Heterochromatin in Aging and in Stem Cells


  1. Larson, K., Yan, S.-J., Tsurumi, A., Liu, J., Zhou, J., Gaur, K., Guo, D., Eickbush, T.H., and Li, W.X. (2011) Heterochromatin formation promotes longevity and represses ribosomal RNA synthesis. Submitted.
  2. Li, W.X. (Edited) (2011) Cell Cycle Checkpoints. Methods in Molecular Biology. By Humana Press. In press.
  3. Silver-Morse, L. and Li, W.X. (2011) The Role of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases in Primordial Germ Cell Migration. Methods in Molecular Biology. By Humana Press, In press.
  4. Tsurumi, A., Xia, F., Li, J., Larson, K., LaFrance, R., and LI, W.X. (2011) STAT is an essential activator of the zygotic genome in the early Drosophila embryo. PLoS Genetics 7(5): e1002086.
  5. Yan, S.-J., Lim, S.J., Shi, S., Dutta, P., and Li, W.X. (2011) Unphosphorylated STAT and heterochromatin protect genome stability. FASEB Journal. 25(1):232-41. [Epub ahead of print Sep 16, 2010]
  6. Yan, S.-J., Zartman, J.J., Zhang, M., Scott, A., Shvartsman, S. Y., and Li, W.X. (2009) Bistability coordinates the activation of the EGFR and Dpp pathways in Drosophila wing vein differentiation. Molecular Systems Biology 5:278. Epub 2009 Jun 16
  7. Li, W.X. (2008) Canonical and noncanonical JAK/STAT signaling. Trends in Cell Biology. 18, 545-51. Epub 2008 Oct 9. (review).
  8. Xia, F., Li, J., Hickey, G.W., Tsurumi, A., Larson, K., Guo, D, Yan, S.-J., Silver-Morse, L, and Li, W.X. (2008) Drosophila Raf activation is regulated by tyrosine 510 phosphorylation. PLoS Biology 6(5): e128.
  9. Shi, S., Larson, K., Guo, D., Dutta, P., Lim, S., Yan, S.-J., and Li, W.X. (2008) Drosophila STAT is directly required for maintaining HP1 localization and heterochromatin stability. Nature Cell Biology 10, 489-96; Epub 2008 Mar 16.
  10. Xing, Y., Shi, S., Le, L., Lee, C. A., Silver-Morse, L., and Li, W.X. (2007) Evidence for transgenerational transmission of epigenetic tumor susceptibility in Drosophila. PLoS Genetics 3(9):e151; 1598-606. Epub 2007 Jul 20. (Editor’s Pick of the Week).
  11. Li, J., and Li, W.X. (2006) A novel function of Drosophila eIF4A as a negative regulator of Dpp/BMP signalling that mediates SMAD degradation. Nature Cell Biology 8, 1407-14; Epub 2006 Nov 19. (Commented in News and Views)
  12. Mogila, V., Xia, F., and Li, W.X. (2006) An intrinsic cell-cycle checkpoint pathway mediated by MEK and ERK in Drosophila. Developmental Cell 11, 575-582. (Commented in In This Issue)
  13. Shi, S., Calhaun, H.C., Xia, F., Li, J., Le, L., and Li, W.X. (2006) JAK signaling globally counteracts heterochromatic gene silencing. Nature Genetics 38, 1071-6. Epub 2006 Aug 6. (Commented in News and Views)
  14. Li, J., Li, W.X.*, and Gelbart, W.M. (2005) A Genetic Screen for Maternal-effect Suppressors of decapentaplegic Identifies the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4A in Drosophila. Genetics 171, 1629-41. Epub 2005 Jun 21. *Corresponding author.
  15. Li, W.X. (2005) Functions and Mechanisms of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Torso Signaling: Lessons from Drosophila embryonic terminal development. Developmental Dynamics 232, 656-672. (review)
  16. Yan, S-J., Gu, Y., Li, W. X.,* and Fleming, R.J.* (2004) Multiple signaling pathways and a selector protein sequentially regulate Drosophila wing development. Development 131,285-298. *Co-corresponding author.
  17. Li, W.X. (2004) Receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and primordial germ cell development. Cell Cycle 3, 249-251. (review)
  18. Li, J., Xia, F., and Li, W.X. (2003) Coactivation of STAT and Ras is required for germ cell proliferation and invasive migration in Drosophila. Developmental Cell, 5, 787-798.
  19. Li, J., Li, W., Calhoun, H. C., Xia, F., Gao, F-B., and Li, W.X. (2003) Patterns and functions of STAT activation during Drosophila embryogenesis. Mechanisms of Development 120, 1455-1468.
  20. Li, J., and Li, W.X. (2003). Drosophila gain-of-function mutant RTK Torso triggers ectopic Dpp and STAT signaling. Genetics 164, 247-258.
  21. Li, W.X.*, Agaisse, H., Mathey-Prevot, B., and Perrimon, N. (2002). Differential Requirement for STAT by gain-of-function and wild-type receptor tyrosine kinase Torso in DrosophilaDevelopment 129, 4241-4248. *Corresponding author.
  22. Li, W., Noll, E., and Perrimon, N. (2000). Identification of autosomal regions involved in Drosophila Raf function.  Genetics  156, 763-774.
  23. Baum, B., Li, W., Perrimon N. (2000). A cyclase-associated protein regulates actin and cell polarity during Drosophila oogenesis and in yeast.  Current Biology  10, 964-973
  24. Li, W., Melnick, M., and Perrimon, N. (1998). Dual function of Ras in Raf activation.  Development  125, 4999-5008.
  25. Li, W., Sloulakis, E.M.C., Davis, R. L., Perrimon, N. (1997). The Drosophila 14-3-3 protein Leonardo enhances Torso signaling through D-Raf in a Ras1-dependent manner.  Development  124, 4163-4171.
  26. Yu, Y., Li, W., Su, K., Yussa, M., Han, W., Perrimon, N., and Pick, L. (1997). The nuclear hormone receptor FTZ-F1 is a cofactor for the Drosophila homeodomain protein FUSHI TARAZU.  Nature  385, 552-555.
  27. Li, W., and Perrimon, N. (1997). Specificity of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling pathways: Lessons from DrosophilaGenetic Engineering 19, 167-182. (review)
  28. Li, W., Tully, T., and Kalderon, D. (1996). Effects of a conditional Drosophila PKA on learning and memory.  Learning & Memory  2, 320-333.
  29. Melendez, A., Li, W., and Kalderon, D. (1995). Activity, expression and function of a second Drosophila PKA catalytic subunit gene.  Genetics 141, 1507-1520.
  30. Li, W., Ohlmeyer, J., Lane, M.E., and Kalderon, D. (1995). Functions of Protein kinase A in Hedgehog signal transduction and Drosophila imaginal disc development.  Cell  80, 553-562. (Featured in Minireview)



  • 1985   Excellent Student Award from the Department of Biology, Peking University
  • 1995   The Peter Sajovic Memorial Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
  • 1998 – 2000    American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2006 – 2010    American Cancer Society Research Scholar
  • 2007 – 2012    Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Research Scholar
  • 2008  Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research, University of Rochester

To contact Dr. Li: wxli@ucsd.edu or 858-534-7824