Dr. Lingyin Li is an assistant professor in the Biochemistry Department at Stanford School of Medicine. She is also a fellow at the Stanford ChEM-H institute. She was born in 1981 in Xi’an, the ancient capital city of China for many of the most important dynasties in the Chinese history and also where the terracotta warriors were uncovered. As a teenager, she was fascinated by Chinese history and literature until her sixth grade math teacher one day remarked: literature is for girls and math is for boys. At a rebellious age, she shifted her focus to math, physics, and chemistry, and eventually attended University of Science and Technology of China. There she majored in Polymer Physics in the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Institute and earned a bachelor of engineering degree in 2003.
She was introduced to the field of Chemical Biology by her graduate mentor Dr. Laura Kiessling at University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, she used synthetic chemical signals to direct human embryonic cell fate decision, with the hope to use stem cells to treat degenerative diseases. Through this project, she was armed with synthetic chemistry experiences, biochemical techniques, and cell biology principles. She also became passionate about making an impact to human health through science and engineering. The obstacles she faced made her realize the importance of biochemical mechanisms in understanding human physiology and therapies.
After obtaining her Ph.D in Chemistry in 2010, she moved to Harvard Medical School to seek further biochemical training with Dr. Tim Mitchison. At Harvard, she collaborated with Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research to perform reverse pharmacology of known immune modulators to elucidate mechanism and identify potential therapeutic targets. Her research put human STING, a central adaptor protein in the innate immune system, on the map of cancer drug discovery and also led her to the field of innate immunology at an exciting time.
Lingyin joined the faculty at Stanford School of Medicine in September 2015. Her lab will seek research directions rooted in chemistry with high potential to impact on basic biological/immunological research and drug development.
I grew up in California, and attended Stanford as an undergraduate. After completing a bachelor's degree in biology, I spent some time as a research assistant in oncology at Genentech. I am primarily interested in cancer biology generally, and specifically in the discovery of novel targets for cancer treatments.
PhD Student (Biochemistry)
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where I learned to appreciate the outdoors and developed an interest in the physical world. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Brown University where I researched the molecular patterns of emerging antibiotic resistance, particularly in bacterial ribosomes. After completing my degree, I took a year off to travel before beginning my PhD at Stanford. I am primarily interesting in studying the molecular mechanisms of cell signaling, particularly in the context of the immune system and disease.
PhD student (Chemistry)
I grew up in southeastern Michigan near Detroit and did my bachelor's degree in chemistry at Cornell University. As an undergraduate, I did research on organic polymers and completed internships studying metabolomics and cancer cell biology. As my interest in biological systems and questions deepened, I went across the pond to the University of Cambridge, where I wrote my master's thesis on the quantification of protein-protein interactions measured by microfluidic techniques. I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms of disease and particularly the role played by small molecule messengers.
PhD Student (Biophysics)
Originally from Hillsborough, North Carolina, Jenifer Brown found her love of science at a young age. After graduating from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, she attended Harvard University. During her time there, she worked on her undergraduate thesis under Dr. Rachelle Gaudet. Her thesis project included engineering a chimeric transmembrane protein, natural resistance-associated protein (NRAMP), for antibody co-crystallization. Although her protein crystals did not lead to a structure, she became very interested in protein structure and X-ray crystallography. She graduated from Harvard in 2015 with a major in Chemistry, and subsequently spent one year teaching English in Murcia, Spain. After her year of fun, she came to Stanford and is now a Biophysics graduate student. With Dr. Lingyin Li, Jenifer hopes to continue her foray into protein biochemistry in a subject area that has the potential to help many people.
PhD Student (Biochemistry)
I was born and raised near Bonn, the former capital of Germany. Ever since I can remember, I was interested in biology. During school, I also became interested in chemistry, and during my civil service as an EMT, I was fascinated by physiology and medicine. Luckily, I discovered I could combine these interests by studying molecular biomedicine at the University of Bonn. There, I became fascinated by the versatility of the immune system and decided to become an immunologist. During my diploma thesis under supervision of Dr. Sven Burgdorf in the group of Dr. Christian Kurts, I got the chance to study the mechanisms of cross presentation in professional antigen presenting cells.
For my PhD thesis, I joined the lab of Dr. Winfried Barchet at the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology in Bonn, headed by Dr. Gunther Hartmann. I studied the mechanism and the biological function of several nucleic acid-based synthetic and enzymatically generated innate immune stimuli. Furthermore, I established a cancer vaccine in a model of ovarian cancer and unraveled its mode of action.
Now, I am excited to focus on anti-tumor immunity and the use of innate immune signals to fight cancer. The example of immune modulatory drugs like checkpoint inhibitors changing the treatment of cancer in the clinics already today is a great motivation for me to find new approaches to broaden our toolset in the fight against cancer in the clinics.
PhD student (Biochemistry)
I grew up close by in San Jose and later received my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry/Cell Biology from University of California, San Diego in 2016. There, I worked in a cancer cell biology lab and researched the autophagy pathway in serous ovarian cancers. Currently, I am interested in learning how second messengers in the innate immune system are regulated in cells. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy reading, volleyball peppering, amateur bodysurfing, traveling…and hanging out with my lab-mates!