The Research Laboratory of Xiao-Nan Li, MD, PhD

About the Research Laboratory of Xiao-Nan Li, MD, PhDXiao-Nan Li, M.D., Ph.D.


Our laboratory is interested in the molecular neuro-oncology and experimental therapeutics of malignant brain tumors, including medulloblastoma, which is the most common type of pediatric malignant brain tumor. We have optimized a system of in vitro and in vivo assays to evaluate the antitumor effects of novel compounds on cell proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, cellular senescence, colony forming efficiency and tumorigenicity in SCID mice. We are particularly interested in establishing preclinical rational for clinical trials of various antitumor compounds, and is working closely with other clinical investigators to quickly translate the preclinical findings into clinical trials.

We also have a specific interest in developing preclinical animal models for drug screening as well as biological studies of human malignant brain tumors. Since traditional subcutaneous xenograft models do not faithfully reproduce the biology of human brain tumors and are often associated with failure or reduced efficacy of the drug/therapy in clinical trials, we are actively engaged in the development of novel orthotopic xenograft models in SCID mice by injecting tumor cells directly into mouse cerebellum. Since the transplanted brain tumor cells, such as medulloblastoma cells, are growing in a biological environment that is close to their native habitat, the developed xenograft tumors recapitulate the biology of human cancer much better than the traditional subcutaneous models. Therefore, the antitumor effects obtained in these models are more predictable of future clinical applications. We have completed the establishment and characterization of several orthotopic xenograft models from both cultured cells and fresh surgical specimen. Our near future goal is to develop a series of orthotopic xenograft models to represent the most common genetic aberrations that are frequently detected in human malignant brain tumors. With such a heterogeneous tumor population, we will be able to evaluate new anti-cancer strategies in a setting is closest to human cancers.

We are also actively engaged in the delineation of genetic pathways that are involved in the determination of drug responsiveness of malignant brain tumors, by utilizing high-throughput gene expression profiling. The ultimate goal of his research is to identify diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets that will eventually lead to molecular based subclassification of brain tumors and more effective therapies with low toxicity. We are now in the process of constructing a database containing the differentially expressed genes that are associated with tumor cell responsiveness to two histone deacetylase inhibitor phenylbutyrate and valproic acid.

Dr. Xiao-Nan Li’s lab is part of the Brain Tumor Program research laboratories.

Laboratory Members

Principal Investigator
Xiao-Nan Li, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Patricia Baxter, MD, MBA

Postdoctoral Associates
Mari Kogioso, PhD
Yue Wang, MD
Yulun Hung, MD, PhD

Former Lab Members

Qin Shu, MD
Research Assistant (2001-2006)

Litian Yu, MD, PhD
Research Associate (2006-2007)

Xiumei Zhao, MD, MS
Research Associate

Yuan Yuan Pan, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow (2007-2008)

Yujing Zhang, MD, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate (2008-2009)

Hua Mao, PhD
Research Associate ( -2013)