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.