Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431

561-297-4828

 ZHONGWEI LI, Ph.D.

Director of Faculty Development, BMS
Ombudsman, College of Medicine


li
CONTACT
zli@health.fau.edu
Tel. (561) 297-3178

 
 

Zhongwei Li received a BS degree from Liaoning University, China, with a Major in Microbiology. He continued graduate studies at the Institute of Forestry and Soil Science (was later named Institute of Applied Ecology), Chinese Academy of Science, and earned MS and PhD degrees in Microbiology. His postdoctoral trainings was first with Dr. Murray Deutscher at UCONN Health Center on tRNA processing, and then with Drs. Ron Duman and Eric Nestler at Yale University School of Medicine on regulation of gene expression by activators and depressants of CNS. During 1996-2000, he worked with Dr. Murray Deutscher at University of Miami as a Research Assistant Professor, and contributed to the discovery of new ribonucleases and the elucidation of novel mechanisms for RNA processing and degradation in Escherichia coli. In 2000, he joined DuPont Central Research and Development as Staff Scientist in computational biology.

In 2002, he moved to Florida Atlantic University as Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associated Professor with tenure in 2007 and Professor in 2013. During his tenure at FAU, Dr. Li has focused on studying RNA oxidation damage, which is strongly implicated in numerous human diseases including neurodegeneration. His group has identified genes and proteins that reduce RNA oxidation levels in E. coli and human cells, and demonstrated that RNA degradation can be a major mechanism for eliminating oxidized RNA and for protecting cells under oxidative stress. His second area of research focus is on RNA metabolism in bacteria. His laboratory has carried out studies of RNA processing and degradation in Escherichia coli, Mycoplasma genitalium and Yersinia pestis, and has discovered new ribonucleases and novel pathways for RNA processing. Using a genomics approach, Dr. Li and his collaborators have identified numerous genes of Y. pestis that play roles in surviving infection of mammalian cells.

In addition to research, Dr. Li has been an educator for both medical and graduate programs in the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. He served as Director of the very first course in the first year medical program during 2010-2013: Fundamentals in Biomedical Science I, and Instructor and Facilitator throughout the history of FAU’s Medical Program. He developed and jointly taught three courses for the College’s Graduate Program, including a required course “Biomedical Data and Informatics”. Over the last 15 plus years, he has trained numerous students at various levels, including K-12, undergraduate, Masters, Ph.D., M.D. students, and post-doctoral fellows. Many of them have published research results with Dr. Li.

 

 

 

  • 1982: B.S., Microbiology, Liaoning University, Shenyang, China
  • 1984: M.S., Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shenyang, China
  • 1989: Ph.D., Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shenyang, China
  • 1995-1996: Postdoctoral Associate, Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
  • 1991-1995: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
  • 2001: M.S., Computer Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

 

  • 2007-Present: Director of Faculty Development for the Department of Biomedical Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2006-2007: Interim Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2005-2006: Interim Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2005-Present: Faculty Ombudsman, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2013-Present: Professor, Department of Biomedical Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2010-2013: Director, Fundamentals of Biomedical Science I Course for Medical Program, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2007-2013: Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science (2007-2010), and Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine (2010-2013), Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2002-2007: Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science (2002-2006), and Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science (2006-2007), Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2003-2010: Assistant (2003-2007) and Associate Professor (2007-2010), (secondary). Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2003-2010: Assistant (2003-2007) and Associate Professor (2007-2010), (secondary). Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • 2007-2010: Associate Professor (adjunct), Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL.
  • 2001-2002: Instructor (adjunct). Mos Institute of Technology, Philadelphia, PA.
  • 2000-2002: Specialist, DuPont Central Research and Development, Wilmington, DE.
  • 1996-2000: Research Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL.
  • 1989-1991: Assistant Researcher, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shenyang, China
  • 1985: Research Associate, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Forestry and Soil Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shenyang, China

 

  • Rehman O, Zhuang H, Rehman AA, Muhamed A, and Li Z. Validation of miRNAs as Breast Cancer Biomarkers with a Machine Learning Approach, in preparation.
  • Silva CF, Li Z, Chen AF, Anthony CF, Rendon M. Microbiologic Characteristics of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in South Florida, in preparation.
  • Schesser Bartra S, Lorica C, Qian L, Gong X, Bahnan W, Li Z, Schesser K, Plano GV. Chromosome-encoded Yersinia pestis type III secretion effector proteins promote infection in cells and in mice, in preparation.
  • Malla S, and Li Z. Characterization of mitochondrial and cytosolic RNA oxidation and involvement of hPNPase in their quality control processes, in preparation.
  • Qian L, Zhang W and Li Z. Essential Gene Identification for a Microarray Data of Yersinia Pestis 2014 IEEE 14th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering. Pages: 185-90, 2014
  • Li Z, Malla S., Shin B and Li J (2014) Battle against RNA oxidation: molecular mechanisms for reducing oxidized RNA to protect cells. WIREs RNA 5:335-46, 2014.
  • Alluri RK and Li Z. A novel one-step mechanism for tRNA 3' end maturation by the exoribonuclease RNase R of Mycoplasma genitalium. J. Biol. Chem. 287:23427-33, 2012.
  • Liu M, Gong X, Alluri RK, Wu J, Sablo T and Li Z. Characterization of RNA damage under oxidative stress in Escherichia coli. Biol. Chem. 393:123-32, 2012.
  • Bartra SS, Gong X, Lorica CD, Jain C, Nair MKM, Schifferli D, Qian L, Li Z, Plano GV and Schesser K. The outer membrane protein A (OmpA) of Yersinia pestis promotes intracellular survival and virulence in mice. Microbial Pathogenesis 52:41-6, 2012.

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Honors and Awards

  • 1982 Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research, Liaoning University, China
  • 1988 Outstanding Young Investigator Award, Joint Symposium of the 4th International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) and the 6th Chinese Biochemistry Conference, Nov. 6-11, 1988, Nanjing, China
  • 1989 Presidential Distinguished Dissertation Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • 1990 Research Excellence Award, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
  • 2001 Way-To-Go Award, DuPont Central Research and Development.
  • 2008 Nominee for Researcher of the Year Award, Florida Atlantic University

Professional Societies

  • The RNA Society
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • Overseas Chinese Society for Microbiology (Sino-Micro)

Grants and Contracts

  • 1990-1992 Principal Investigator, New Investigator Award, National Scientific Foundation, China: “Structure of Rhizobium fredii surface polysaccharides and their roles in infection of soybean.” RMB 35,000.
  • 1992-1995 Key Personnel, NIH 7R01GM016317-28: “Enzymology and control of amino acid activation”, PI: Dr. Murray P. Deutscher.
  • 1996-2000 Key Personnel, NIH 5R01GM016317-32: “Enzymology and control of amino acid activation”, PI: Dr. Murray P. Deutscher.
  • 2003-2005 Principal Investigator, Contract DAAD13-02-C-0080 Subtask 15, funded by US Army Research, Development & Engineering Command (RDECOM) through University of South Florida Center for Biological Defense:  “Genomics study of enterobacterial BT agents: identification of genes and sequence tags as targets for novel diagnosis and therapy.” $124,527.00 (Direct: $90,090.00 including subcontract of $24,999 to Dr. L. Liao; Indirect: $34,437.00).
  • 2004  Principal Investigator, New Project Development Award, Florida Atlantic University: “RNA metabolism in Mycoplasma.” $15,000.00 (Direct $15,000.00).
  • 2006-2008 Principal Investigator, Contract W911SR-06-C-0023 Principal Task Area 3, funded by US Army Research, Development & Engineering Command (RDECOM) through University of South Florida Center for Biological Defense: “Identification of genes essential for growth and prediction of antimicrobial targets in Yersinia pestis.” $226,483 (Direct: $164,945; Indirect: $61,538). No-cost extension to Aug. 2008.
  • Jun. 8, 2005-May 31, 2009  Principal Investigator, Research Project in NIH SCORE Program S06GM073621 (Program Director: Dr. Gregg Fields): “RNA damage and quality control under oxidative stress.” $827,610.00 (Direct: $600,000.00; Indirect: $227,610.00). No-cost extension to May 2010.
  • Sept. 26, 2007-Sept. 25, 2009 Principal Investigator, Contract W911SR-07-C-0084 Subagreement #6415-1012-61-A, funded by US Army Research, Development & Engineering Command (RDECOM) through University of South Florida Center for Biological Defense: “Identification of genes essential for growth and prediction of antimicrobial targets in Yersinia pestis.” $168,126 (Direct: $120,071; Indirect: $48,055). Awarded, pending for laboratory inspection. No-cost extension to Sept. 2010.
  • Sept. 1, 2011-Aug. 31, 2012, Principal Investigator, Florida Dept. of Health and the James & Ether King Biomedical Research Program Bridge Fund grant: “RNA quality control against oxidative damage”. $103,500 (Direct: $90,000; Indirect: $13,500).
  • Sept. 1, 2011-Aug. 31, 2014,  NCE Aug. 31, 2015. Principal Investigator, NIH/NIGMS R15 grant: “RNA quality control against oxidative damage”. $317,900 (Direct: $220,000; Indirect: $97,900).
  • May 16, 2013-May 15, 2014, PI (Co-PI: Diane Baronas-Lowell, Herbert Weissbach), FAU HARI SG, $20,000.
  • Apr. 9, 2014-Apr. 8, 2015, PI Sponsor for FAU Undergraduate Research Grant, $920.
  • May 1, 2014-Apr. 31, 2016, Co-Investigator (PI: Y. Shibata), FAU Research Seed Grant, $25,000.
  • Jun. 1, 2014-May 31, 2017 Co- Investigator (PI: Y. Shibata), NIH/NIAID R15 grant, $380,552.
  • May 1, 2015-Oct. 31, 2016 Principal Investigator, Contract, TA Diagnostics, LLC. “Tests for feasibility of bacterial identification using a proprietary medical device”. $69,308.

Active Funding

  • AGR-15-47, TA Diagnostics, LLC PI: Zhongwei Li TESTS FOR FEASIBILITY OF BACTERIAL IDENTIFICATION USING A PROPRIETARY MEDICAL DEVICE Project Period: 2015-2019
  • FAU Institute for Healthy Aging and Lifespan Studies (I-HeAL) Pilot Award PI: Zhongwei Li RNA OXIDATION AS A POTENTIAL CAUSE AND NEW BIOMARKER FOR AGE-RELATED NEURODEGENERATION Project Period: 2017-2018


Last Modified 9/17/18