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Zejuan Li, MD, PhD, FACMG

Associate Professor of Pathology and Genomic Medicine, Academic Institute
Associate Clinical Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Li is the associate medical director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory and Associate Professor of Department of Pathology at the Houston Methodist. Prior to joining Houston Methodist in 2018, she was an assistant professor of human genetics and assistant director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Chicago. Dr. Li also received postdoctoral training with Dr. Janet D. Rowley in leukemia research and completed clinical molecular genetics fellowship at the University of Chicago. Dr. Li was board certified in Clinical Molecular Genetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics in 2015.

Dr. Li’s research interest is in understanding the pathological mechanisms of leukemia and lymphoma development and the identification of biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment in leukemia, lymphoma, and other cancers. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed research articles in high-impact journals, including Cancer Cell, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature Communications, Blood, Leukemia, PNAS, Genome Research, Cancer Research, and others. Dr. Li has received awards and funding from several agencies, including the American Cancer Society, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

Dr. Li’s clinical interest is to translate knowledge from basic research to clinical diagnosis, particularly in developing and testing cutting-edge technologies to incorporate advanced sequencing platforms, materials, and techniques to improve the range of genetic and genomic services that can be offered to patients.

Dr. Li serves on the editorial boards of several journals and is an active member of professional organizations including the Association for Molecular Pathology, the American College of Medical Genetics, and the American Society of Hematology. She also serves on the ClinGen Myeloid Malignancy Variant Curation Expert Panel.

Description of Research

The research of Dr. Li’s laboratory is focused on two areas. One is to delineate the underlying pathological mechanism of leukemia and lymphoma through in vitro and in vivo studies of the role of protein coding and non-coding genes. The other is to identify novel genetic and epigenetic biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and to develop more effective therapeutic strategies to offer to patients.

Areas Of Expertise

Epigenetics Biomarkers Leukemia Molecular genetics Cancer genetics

ClinGen Myeloid Malignancy Variant Curation Expert Panel recommendations for germline RUNX1 variants
Luo, X, Feurstein, S, Mohan, S, Porter, CC, Jackson, SA, Keel, S, Chicka, M, Brown, AL, Kesserwan, C, Agarwal, A, Luo, M, Li, Z, Ross, JE, Baliakas, P, Pineda-Alvarez, D, DiNardo, CD, Bertuch, AA, Mehta, N, Vulliamy, T, Wang, Y, Nichols, KE, Malcovati, L, Walsh, MF, Rawlings, LH, McWeeney, SK, Soulier, J, Raimbault, A, Routbort, MJ, Zhang, L, Ryan, G, Speck, NA, Plon, SE, Wu, D & Godley, LA 2019, , Blood Advances, vol. 3, no. 20, pp. 2962-2979.

Somatic mutation panels: Time to clear their names
Trottier, AM, Cavalcante de Andrade Silva, M, Li, Z & Godley, LA 2019, , Cancer Genetics, vol. 235-236, pp. 84-92.

Targeted exome analysis identifies the genetic basis of disease in over 50% of patients with a wide range of ataxia-related phenotypes
Sun, M, Johnson, AK, Nelakuditi, V, Guidugli, L, Fischer, D, Arndt, K, Ma, L, Sandford, E, Shakkottai, V, Boycott, K, Chardon, JW, Li, Z, del Gaudio, D, Burmeister, M, Gomez, CM, Waggoner, DJ & Das, S 2019, , Genetics in Medicine, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 195-206.

Frequency of germline mutations in cancer susceptibility genes in malignant mesothelioma
Panou, V, Gadiraju, M, Wolin, A, Weipert, CM, Skarda, E, Husain, AN, Patel, JD, Rose, B, Zhang, SR, Weatherly, M, Nelakuditi, V, Johnson, AK, Helgeson, M, Fischer, D, Desai, A, Sulai, N, Ritterhouse, L, Røe, OD, Turaga, KK, Huo, D, Segal, J, Kadri, S, Li, Z, Kindler, HL & Churpek, JE 2018, , Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol. 36, no. 28, pp. 2863-2871.

RNA N6-methyladenosine modification in cancers: current status and perspectives
Deng, X, Su, R, Weng, H, Huang, H, Li, Z & Chen, J 2018, , Cell Research, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 507-517.

Erratum: Publisher Correction: miR-196b directly targets both HOXA9/MEIS1 oncogenes and FAS tumour suppressor in MLL-rearranged leukaemia (Nature communications (2012) 3 (688))
Li, Z, Huang, H, Chen, P, He, M, Li, Y, Arnovitz, S, Jiang, X, He, C, Hyjek, E, Zhang, J, Zhang, Z, Elkahloun, A, Cao, D, Shen, C, Wunderlich, M, Wang, Y, Neilly, MB, Jin, J, Wei, M, Lu, J, Valk, PJM, Delwel, R, Lowenberg, B, Le Beau, MM, Vardiman, J, Mulloy, JC, Zeleznik-Le, NJ, Liu, PP, Zhang, J & Chen, J 2018, Nature Communications, vol. 9, 16192.

Molecular characterization of HDAC8 deletions in individuals with atypical Cornelia de Lange syndrome
Helgeson, M, Keller-Ramey, J, Knight Johnson, A, Lee, JA, Magner, DB, Deml, B, Deml, J, Hu, YY, Li, Z, Donato, K, Das, S, Laframboise, R, Tremblay, S, Krantz, I, Noon, S, Hoganson, G, Burton, J, Schaaf, CP & Del Gaudio, D 2018, , Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 349-356.

Prognostic tumor sequencing panels frequently identify germ line variants associated with hereditary hematopoietic malignancies
Drazer, MW, Kadri, S, Sukhanova, M, Patil, SA, West, AH, Feurstein, S, Calderon, DA, Jones, MF, Weipert, CM, Daugherty, CK, Ceballos-Lopez, AA, Raca, G, Lingen, MW, Li, Z, Segal, JP, Churpek, JE & Godley, LA 2018, , Blood Advances, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 146-150.

Heterozygous RTEL1 variants in bone marrow failure and myeloid neoplasms
Marsh, JW, Gutierrez-Rodrigues, F, Cooper, J, Jiang, J, Gandhi, S, Kajigaya, S, Feng, X, Ibanez, MF, Donaires, FS, Da Silva, JPL, Li, Z, Das, S, Ibenez, M, Smith, AE, Lea, N, Best, S, Ireland, R, Kulasekararaj, AG, McLornan, DP, Pagliuca, A, Callebaut, I, Young, NS, Calado, RT, Townsley, DM & Mufti, GJ 2018, , Blood Advances, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 36-48.

Clinical utility of gene panel-based testing for hereditary myelodysplastic syndrome/acute leukemia predisposition syndromes
Guidugli, L, Johnson, AK, Alkorta-Aranburu, G, Nelakuditi, V, Arndt, K, Churpek, JE, Godley, LA, Townsley, D, Young, NS, Fitzpatrick, C, Del Gaudio, D, Das, S & Li, Z 2017, , Leukemia, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 1226-1229.

FTO Plays an Oncogenic Role in Acute Myeloid Leukemia as a N 6 -Methyladenosine RNA Demethylase
Li, Z, Weng, H, Su, R, Weng, X, Zuo, Z, Li, C, Huang, H, Nachtergaele, S, Dong, L, Hu, C, Qin, X, Tang, L, Wang, Y, Hong, GM, Huang, H, Wang, X, Chen, P, Gurbuxani, S, Arnovitz, S, Li, Y, Li, S, Strong, J, Neilly, MB, Larson, RA, Jiang, X, Zhang, P, Jin, J, He, C & Chen, J 2017, , Cancer Cell, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 127-141.

Eradication of acute myeloid leukemia with FLT3 ligand-targeted miR-150 nanoparticles
Jiang, X, Bugno, J, Hu, C, Yang, Y, Herold, T, Qi, J, Chen, P, Gurbuxani, S, Arnovitz, S, Strong, J, Ferchen, K, Ulrich, B, Weng, H, Wang, Y, Huang, H, Li, S, Neilly, MB, Larson, RA, Le Beau, MM, Bohlander, SK, Jin, J, Li, Z, Bradner, JE, Hong, S & Chen, J 2016, , Cancer research, vol. 76, no. 15, pp. 4470-4480.

Improved molecular diagnosis of patients with neonatal diabetes using a combined next-generation sequencing and MS-MLPA approach
Alkorta-Aranburu, G, Sukhanova, M, Carmody, D, Hoffman, T, Wysinger, L, Keller-Ramey, J, Li, Z, Johnson, AK, Kobiernicki, F, Botes, S, Fitzpatrick, C, Das, S & Del Gaudio, D 2016, , Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 523-531.

MiR-22 has a potent anti-tumour role with therapeutic potential in acute myeloid leukaemia
Jiang, X, Hu, C, Arnovitz, S, Bugno, J, Yu, M, Zuo, Z, Chen, P, Huang, H, Ulrich, B, Gurbuxani, S, Weng, H, Strong, J, Wang, Y, Li, Y, Salat, J, Li, S, Elkahloun, AG, Yang, Y, Neilly, MB, Larson, RA, Le Beau, MM, Herold, T, Bohlander, SK, Liu, PP, Zhang, J, Li, Z, He, C, Jin, J, Hong, S & Chen, J 2016, , Nature Communications, vol. 7, 11452.

Identification of MLL-fusion/MYC?miR-26?TET1 signaling circuit in MLL-rearranged leukemia
Huang, H, Jiang, X, Wang, J, Li, Y, Song, CX, Chen, P, Li, S, Gurbuxani, S, Arnovitz, S, Wang, Y, Weng, H, Neilly, MB, He, C, Li, Z & Chen, J 2016, , Cancer Letters, vol. 372, no. 2, pp. 157-165.

PBX3 and MEIS1 Cooperate in hematopoietic cells to drive acute myeloid leukemias characterized by a core transcriptome of the MLL-rearranged disease
Li, Z, Chen, P, Su, R, Hu, C, Li, Y, Elkahloun, AG, Zuo, Z, Gurbuxani, S, Arnovitz, S, Weng, H, Wang, Y, Shenglai, L, Huang, H, Neilly, MB, Wang, GG, Jiang, X, Liu, PP, Jin, J & Chen, J 2016, , Cancer research, vol. 76, no. 3, pp. 619-629.

Overexpression and knockout of miR-126 both promote leukemogenesis
Li, Z, Chen, P, Su, R, Li, Y, Hu, C, Wang, Y, Arnovitz, S, He, M, Gurbuxani, S, Zuo, Z, Elkahloun, AG, Li, S, Weng, H, Huang, H, Neilly, MB, Wang, S, Olson, EN, Larson, RA, Le Beau, MM, Zhang, J, Jiang, X, Wei, M, Jin, J, Liu, PP & Chen, J 2015, , Blood, vol. 126, no. 17, pp. 2005-2015.

Next-generation sequencing reveals clinically actionable molecular markers in myeloid sarcoma
Li, Z, Stölzel, F, Onel, K, Sukhanova, M, Mirza, MK, Yap, KL, Borinets, O, Larson, RA, Stock, W, Sasaki, MM, Joseph, L & Raca, G 2015, , Leukemia, vol. 29, no. 10, pp. 2113-2116.

A novel mutation in the promoter of RARS2 causes pontocerebellar hypoplasia in two siblings
Li, Z, Schonberg, R, Guidugli, L, Johnson, AK, Arnovitz, S, Yang, S, Scafidi, J, Summar, ML, Vezina, G, Das, S, Chapman, K & Del Gaudio, D 2015, , Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 60, no. 7, pp. 363-369.

RCSD1-ABL2 fusion resulting from a complex chromosomal rearrangement in high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Raca, G, Gurbuxani, S, Zhang, Z, Li, Z, Sukhanova, M, McNeer, J & Stock, W 2015, , Leukemia and Lymphoma, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 1145-1147.