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Yuanyuan Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Yuanyuan Li, M.D., Ph. D. Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1824 6th Avenue South, WTI 501G, Birmingham, AL 35294-1170
Phone: (205) 975-3699
Fax: (205) 975-6745

Dr. Yuanyuan Li received her Ph.D. in Oncology from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, China, in 2006. She then began her postdoctoral training in Dr. Tollefsbol’s lab at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Li was appointed as Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biology at UAB during 2011 to 2013. She was recruited as an Instructor in Division of Hematology and Oncology of Department of Medicine at UAB since 2013.

Her research interests primarily focus on epigenetic regulation of nutritional components in cancer prevention and therapy. She also shows interests in nutrition regulated-aging control and longevity. She authored over 20 scientific peer-reviewed papers in different prestigious journals and also served as an invited scientific reviewer for many highly respected journals. Her research contributions have received international recognition. Especially, one of her papers was selected for press release by the Editors of the FASEB Journal and has been extensively reported by various media presses. This paper was also been awarded best paper by UAB-based investigator(s) in the area of obesity or nutrition. Dr. Li was frequently invited to give oral presentations at different academic occasions and to present her studies at several national and international conferences. Dr. Li served as PI or co-investigator on several extramural research grants from funding agencies including the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Li received a Postdoctoral Award (PDA) by the AICR, the national leading cancer foundation charity. She also received grants as principal investigator (PI) by NIH/NCI R03, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for her junior faculty career development.


  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • pre 2010
  1. Li Y*., Saldanha S., Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic dietary compounds on transgenerational prevention of human diseases. AAPS Journal, 2014 Jan;16(1):27- 36.
  1. Li Y*., Meeran S.M., Patel S.N., Chen H., Hardy T.M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic reactivation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) by genistein enhanced chemosensitivity in ERα-negative breast cancer. Molecular Cancer, 4;12(1):9 2013. Featured on site. MDLinx is the world's most up-to-date index of articles that matter in the daily lives of physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  2. Chen H., Landen C., Li Y., Alvarez R., Tollefsbol T.O., Epigallocatechin Gallate and Sulforaphane Combination Treatment Induce Apoptosis in Paclitaxel-Resistant Ovarian Cancer Cells through hTERT and Bcl-2 Down-regulation, Experimental Cell Research, S0014-4827(13)00014-1, 2013.
  3. Chen H., Landen C., Li Y., Alvarez R., Tollefsbol T.O., Enhancement of Cisplatinmediated Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells through Potentiating G2/M Arrest and p21 Upregulation by Combinatorial Epigallocatechin Gallate and Sulforaphane. Journal of Oncology, 2013:872957, 2013.
  1. Li Y*., Chen H., Hardy T.M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Dietary genistein suppressed breast cancer tumorigenesis through epigenetic regulation of multiple tumor-related genes. PLoS One, 8(1): e54369, 2012.
  2. Li Y*., Epigenetic food: a new approach for cancer prevention and therapy. J. of Nutrition & Food Sciences, Editorial report, 2155-9600.1000e103, 2012.
  3. Kala R., Li Y.* and Tollefsbol T.O., Potential of resveratrol in inhibiting cancer and slowing aging. J. of Nutrition & Food Sciences, 2155-9600.S5-001, 2012.
  4. Meeran S.M., Patel S.N., Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Bioactive dietary supplements reactivate ER expression in ER-negative breast cancer cells by epigenetic mechanisms involving active chromatin modifications. PLoS ONE, 2012, 7(5):e37748.
  1. Li Y.*, Daniel M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic regulation of caloric restriction in aging. BMC Medicine, 2011, 9, 98-110. Ranked “Top one paper” in the area based on BioMedLib; Received featured article and “highly accessed” status in BMC Medicine web site; featured in The Australian newspaper, a national newspaper in Australia.
  2. Liu L., van Groen T., Kadish I., Li Y., Wang D., James S.R., Karpf A.R., and Tollefsbol T., Insufficient DNA methylation affects healthy aging and cognitive functions. Clinical Epigenetics, 2011, 2(2):349-60.
  3. Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., p16INK4a suppression by glucose restriction contributes to human cellular lifespan extension through SIRT1-mediated epigenetic and genetic mechanisms. PLoS ONE 2011, 6(2), e17421. Ranked “Top three paper” in the area based on BioMedLib.
  4. DeAngelis JT, Li Y, Mitchell N, Wilson L, Kim H and Tollefsbol TO, 2D difference gel electrophoresis analysis of different time points during the course of neoplastic transformation of human mammary epithelial cells. Journal of Proteome Research 2011, 10(2), 447-58.
  1. Li Y., Yuan Y., Meeran S.M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Synergistic epigenetic reactivation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) by combined green tea polyphenol and histone deacetylase inhibitor in ERα-negative breast cancer cells. Molecular Cancer 2010, 9, 274. Received “Highly accessed” status by Molecular Cancer (4th most accessed in the journal) and featured on site. MDLinx is the world's most up-todate index of articles that matter in the daily lives of physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  2. Li Y., Liu L. and Tollefsbol T.O., Glucose restriction can extend normal cell lifespan and impair precancerous cell growth through epigenetic control of hTERT and p16 expression. The FASEB Journal 2010, 24(5), 1442-1453. Selected by the editors of FASEB Journal for press release. Received several hundred news stories online and also appeared on the UAB main page, the front page of Birmingham News, Fox 6 News and Science News, et al. Awarded “best paper” by UAB-based investigators in 2011 in the areas of obesity or nutrition.
  3. Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Impact on DNA methylation in cancer prevention and
    therapy by bioactive dietary components. Current Medicinal Chemistry 2010,
    17(20), 2141-2151.
  1. Li Y., Liu L., Andrews L.G. and Tollefsbol T.O., Genistein depletes telomerase activity through cross-talk between genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. International Journal of Cancer 2009, 125 (2), 286-96. 17. Chen HP, Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Strategies targeting telomerase inhibition. Molecular Biotechnology 2009, 41(2), 194-9.
  2. Liu L., Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Gene-environment interactions and epigenetic basis of human diseases. Current Issues in Molecular Biology 2008, 10(1-2), 25-36. Selected for interview by LiveScience RSS and cited in the news article: “Epigenetics: A Revolutionary Look at How Humans Work”, ( epigenetics-overview.html)
  3. Huang G., Hu Z., Li Y., Guo L., Jiang W. and Lu S.H., ECRG2 inhibits cancer cell migration, invasion and metastasis through the down-regulation of uPA/plasmin activity. Carcinogenesis 2007, 28(11), 2274-81.
  4. Li Y., Zhang X., Huang G., Miao X., Guo L., Lin D. and Lu S.H., Identification of a novel polymorphism Arg290Gln of esophageal cancer related gene 1 (ECRG1) and it related risk to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Carcinogenesis 2006, 27(4), 798-802.
  5. Huang G., Wang D., Guo L., Zhao N., Li Y. and Lu S.H., Monoclonal antibodies to esophageal cancer-related gene2 protein. Hybridoma (Larchmt) 2005, 24(2), 86-91.