Yanchun Li, Ph.D.


  • Associate Professor, Department of Medicine - Section of Gastroenterology, Cancer Research Center, Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition


Ph.D. Kent State University, 1991
M.S. Wuhan University, 1986
B.S. Wuhan University, 1983


The University of Chicago
KCBD 9110
900 Easr 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637


Phone: (773) 702-2477

Website (Lab)


Function of the Vitamin D Endocrine System

My laboratory has long-standing interests in the vitamin D endocrine system and in the mechanisms of metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Our research interests cover the following areas.

Diabetic Complications: Diabetic nephropathy is the most common renal complication of diabetes mellitus and a leading cause of renal failure. Hyperglycemia is the main cause of diabetic renal injury. The major manifestation of the disease includes glomerular sclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Research projects in this area include: Reno-protective mechanisms of vitamin D/vitamin D receptor (VDR) signaling; Epigenetic mechanisms of diabetic renal injury; Roles of microRNAs in tubulointerstitial fibrosis; and Roles of endothelin receptors in diabetic nephropathy.

Gastrointestinal Disease: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the major inflammatory disorder affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This problem is manifested by chronic colonic inflammation. Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in humans. Main research topics in this area include: Intestinal epithelial VDR signaling in colonic inflammation and colitis pathogenesis; and Mechanisms of vitamin D inhibition of colon cancer.

Inflammation and Acute Lung Injury: Innate immune response is the first line of defense in pathogen infection. Severe bacterial infection can cause systemic inflammation (sepsis) and death. Acute lung injury is a major complication of systemic inflammation. Main research topics include: Roles of vitamin D and microRNAs in inflammatory response and immune tolerance; Vitamin D and acute lung injury; MicroRNAs in the regulation of acute lung injury.

Lipid Metabolism, Energy Homeostasis and Atherosclerosis: Adipocytes play a major role in energy homeostasis. Imbalance of energy intake and energy expenditure can lead to obesity, a major cause of metabolic syndrome. Atherosclerosis is an important vascular disease caused by chronic vascular inflammation usually triggered by hyperlipidemia. Research topics include: Macrophage VDR signaling in atherosclerosis; Cholesterol synthesis and vitamin D metabolism; and Adipocyte VDR signaling and energy metabolism.

Research Papers in PubMed