P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Yun (Rose) Li, 2012

MD/PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Yun (Rose) Li is an immigrant from China

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MD/PhD in Medicine and Cell/Cellular & Molecular Biology at University of Pennsylvania

Rose was born in Beijing, China, and immigrated to the US at the age of 9. At the age 16, she won a full-tuition scholarship to study at Bard College at Simon's Rock, where she pursued biochemistry, Chinese and Spanish Literature. Rose's passion for molecular biology and human genetics stemmed from her first research internship at the age of 16 at Iowa State University, where she was a two-time research award recipient for her work as a part of the George Washington Carver Summer Internship Program.

Rose graduated summa cum laude with a BS (ACS-Certified) in chemistry in 2010 from Duke University, where she worked in the laboratory of Prof Hiroaki Matsunami to study the molecular regulation and genetic basis of smell and taste in mammals. She won funding from the Irene and Eric Simons Brain Research Foundation for her work. She is the first author of a cover article in Science Signaling and a related patent. Since matriculating in the MD/PhD Program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, Rose has worked at the Center for Applied Genomics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where her PhD dissertation focused on identifying common genetic risk factors underlying pediatric autoimmune diseases across a cohort of over 40,000 patients. Her dissertation work is supported by the NIH F30 NRSA Individual Research Fellowship and the Paul and Daily Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a fellowship for advancing the scholarly work and education of first and second generation US immigrants. In addition, she leads several projects in the application of exome sequencing to identifying causes of orphan Mendelian diseases. Her work in molecular and human genetics have resulted in first author publications in the Nature Medicine, Nature Communication, and Science Signaling as well as coauthored manuscripts in Nature, Am. J. of Human Genetics, Neurology, Nature Neuroscience, and the Lancet as well as several patents. She was most recently honored as the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's 2016 Distinguished Research Trainee for her PhD dissertation.

In addition, during her PhD, she helped launch the iGENETRAIN consortium -- an international collaboration across 22 leading institutions from five continents that will be applying next generation DNA sequencing technologies to the identification of genetic markers for solid organ transplant rejection. She also led the design and implement of a transplant-specific high density genome-wide array now being used to analyze over 11,000 transplant donor/recipient samples and developed targeted exome sequencing and proteomic platforms to study acute rejection in routine biopsy samples following cardiac transplantation.

Rose is currently completing her medical training and plans to pursue residency in radiation oncology. She aspires to bring targeted therapeutics to radiation by by applying her expertise in human genomics to understanding the genetic basis between defects in immune surveillance, oncogenesis, and radiosensitivity. Her clinical work in breast oncology has been recognized by the 2014 ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation Award and the American Association for Cancer Research's Scholar-In-Training Award for her oral presentation at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Her abstract describing the application of proton therapy in the definitive treatment of mesothelioma was also selected as a platform talk at the 2015 World Lung Cancer Symposium.

In addition to her research, Rose serves advisory and consulting roles for healthcare IT and international education companies and organizations including Shearwater International, DreamIt Venture Healthcare Program, and CrowdMed. In addition to being a 2014 fellow in the Managing Sciences in the Biotech Industry program sponsored by the American Society for Cell Biology and EMD Millipore, Rose has continued on as a student liaison and consultant. In addition, Rose co-led a business team in the 2014-2015 NeuroChallenge sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Heritage Foundation to propel the clinical translation of novel neurological therapies and was the 2015 VP of Communications for Penn's Graduate Consulting Club. Most recently, she was selected as one of six BreakOut Labs scientific ambassadors, working with the non-profit Thiel Foundation to help stimulate the growth and development of innovative start-ups in the healthcare and biotechnology space.

To give back to her community, Rose serves on the UPenn University Council, UPenn's Women's MD-PhD Student Association, is a part of the Association for Women in Science Mentor-Mentee Program and is the co-founder and advisory editor of Stylus, UPenn's first biomedical literary journal. Nationally, she serves on the Public Relations Committee of the American Physician-Scientist Association and has been named a Public Health and Medical Humanities Scholar with the American Medical Student Association. She serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Journal of Young Investigators, an international undergraduate research journal, and as a grants consultant with the African Family Health Organization in Philadelphia. In the past, she has served as a board member of the Government Relations Council of the Greater Delaware Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Rose has served as a 2015 Emerging Leaders in Science and Society Fellow for the American Academic for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) and a 2015 Paul Ambrose Scholar by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research for her public health project on HIV screening for African immigrants in high risk communities. She loves to write poetry, play the piano and go horseback riding.

A complete List of my Published Work are listed in my MyBibliography

  • MD Medicine | University of Pennsylvania 2016
  • PhD Cell/Cellular & Molecular Biology | University of Pennsylvania 2016
  • BS Chemistry | Duke University 2010
  • AA Biology, Chemistry | Bard College at Simon's Rock: The Early College 2008
Select Publications
  • Li, YR...Keating, BJ, Hakonarson, H. Heritability and genetic sharing of pediatric age-of-onset autoimmune diseases. Nat. Commun. 6, 8442 (2015)
  • Li, YR...Keating, BJ, Hakonarson, H. The genomic landscape of pediatric autoimmune diseases. Nature Medicine. Nat. Med. (2015). doi:10.1038/nm.3933
  • Jiang, Yue,* Li, YR*., Ma, Minghong and H. Matsunami. “Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M3 modulates odorant receptor activity via inhibition of β-arrestin-2 recruitment. Nature Communications, vol. 6, p. 6448, Jan. 2015.
  • Li, YR, Xian, RR, Ziober, A…June, CH, Zhang, PJ, and Tchou, J, “Mesothelin expression is associated with poor outcomes in breast cancer., Breast Cancer Res. Treat., vol. 147, no. 3, pp. 675–84, Oct. 2014.
  • Swerdlow DI, Holmes MV, …Li YR, ..., Keating BJ, Sattar N.The interleukin-6 receptor as a target for prevention of coronary heart disease: a mendelian randomisation analysis. Lancet 379, 1214-1224 (2012).
  • Aoki R.* and Li YR*#. alpha-synuclein promotes neuroprotection through NF-kappaB-mediated transcriptional regulation of protein kinase C-delta. Sci Signal 4, jc6 (2011).
  • Lee, T., Li, YR., Chesi, A., Hart, MP..., Gitler, AD 2011#, “Evaluating the prevalence of polyglutamine repeat expansions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurology, 76(24):2062-5. PMC3111240
  • Lee, T.*, Li, YR.*,..., Gitler, AD.#. Ataxin-2 intermediate-length polyglutamine expansions in European ALS patients. Human Molecular Genetics, 20(9):1697-700. PMC3071667
  • Mainland, J. D., Keller, A., Li, Y. R…Matsunami, H. (2013). The missense of smell: functional variability in the human odorant receptor repertoire. Nat. neuroscience.
  • Li YR., & Matsunami, H. (2013). Unfolding the mystery of olfactory receptor gene expression. Dev Cell, 27(2), 1–2.
  • Li, YR, King, O, Shorter, J, & Gitler, AD (2013). Stress granules as crucibles of ALS pathogenesis. J. of Cell Biology, 201(3), 361–72.
  • Li, YR.#, Levine, JE., Hakonarson, H., & Keating, BJ. (2013). Making the genomic leap in HCT: application of second-generation sequencing to clinical advances in hematopoietic cell transplantation. European journal of human genetics: Eur. J. Human Gen.
  • Kim, HJ, Kim, NC, Wang, YD., .. Li YR …Taylor, JP. (2013). Mutations in prion-like domains in hnRNPA2B1 and hnRNPA1 cause multisystem proteinopathy and ALS. Nature.
  • Li, YR., and H. Matsunami. Activation State of the M3 Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Modulates Mammalian Odorant Receptor Signaling. Science Signaling. January 2011. PMC3034603 (Featured Cover)
Work History
  • Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Center for Applied Genomics Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Physician-Scientist
  • Eisenhower Medical Center, Physician-Scientist
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