The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
An amazing feature of eukaryotic nuclei is that as long as 2 meters of DNA in linear length (3 billion base pairs in humans) is packaged into a space of less than 10 μm a diameter, while the information stored in all regions of this stretch of DNA can still be very quickly (in minutes or seconds) and effectively retrieved. (This process is so effective and precise that it very likely outperforms the Google search engine!). Despite being so small, every human genome hosts millions of regulatory genomic elements, including enhancers, promoters and insulators, and they cross talk to each other every single second to control DNA replication, genome integrity and gene transcription. The ultimate goal of Dr. Li’s lab is to understand how the genome is organized in the three-dimension (3D), and how the elements in the genome, including both DNAs, proteins and RNAs, cross-talk to each other.
Importantly, the mutations of noncoding regulatory elements, such as enhancers and promoters, are associated with various diseases. However, they are still largely mysterious in terms of the underlying mechanisms. The basic molecular insights into 3D genome and noncoding regions will be critical to help us fight human disease such as cancer.
What students can learn during tutorial: Dr. Li’s lab uses interdisciplinary approaches combining biochemistry and molecular biology, epigenetics/epigenomics, genome editing (i.e. Crispr/Cas9 and Cas13), and bioinformatics. Li lab also extensively utilizes omics tools like ChIP-Seq, PRO-Seq, and Hi-C. The model systems are mostly cultured human cell lines and/or ESCs. Interested students will learn to conduct one of these assays during her/his tutorial. Students may also have opportunities to learn and use bioinformatics tools.
Education & Training
PhD, National University of Singapore, 2009