Recognized Cancer Biology Researcher Rong Li to Chair GW Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine

WASHINGTON (Sept. 26, 2018) – Rong Li, PhD, will serve as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He will also serve as a professor in the department.  

"As an internationally recognized researcher and a leader in the field of cancer biology, Dr. Li is the right person to lead the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine,” said Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We are confident his vision and leadership will help us continue to build the department's research enterprise and encourage growth in new and existing research areas.”

Li is a recognized cancer biology researcher. His work has primarily focused on answering important questions concerning breast cancer treatment and prevention, including how BRCA1 suppresses tumors in gender- and tissue-specific manners, how tumor inhibiting estrogen receptor β can be mobilized, and how adipose stromal cells can promote breast cancer progression. He belongs to the American Association of Cancer Research, the American Society for Advancement of Science, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He has also taught a variety of courses focused on cancer biology and molecular medicine. Li has numerous research and teaching awards, and currently holds the Tom C. and Patricia H. Frost Endowment. 

Li comes to GW from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he was professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine and co-leader for the Cancer Development and Progression Program at the NCI-designated cancer therapy and research center, Mays Cancer Center. He was previously associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia (UVA) and co-leader of the molecular genetics program at the UVA Cancer Center. Li received his postdoctoral training from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, his PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkley and his BS in Genetics from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. 

The main mission of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine is to unlock the mysteries of biologic processes at the molecular and genomic level and to educate medical, allied health, graduate, and undergraduate students in the fields of biochemistry, bioinformatics, molecular biology, and genetics. The department also trains scientifically astute and highly competent researchers in these areas.

In his role as chair, Li will lead 26 faculty members with research appointments. Research in the department currently is focused on breast, liver, and prostate cancer, as well as cancer therapies. Many faculty are members of the GW Cancer Center. Other areas of research include applied bioinformatics, computational genomics, autism, and cellular and molecular biochemical studies of cardiomyopathy and hepatobiology.

Li will also oversee the McCormick Genomics and Proteomics Center, a genomic research center funded by an endowment that supports research at the interface of computational genomics and laboratory-based experimentation. He will manage biochemistry curriculum taught in the MD, physician assistant, and MS in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biochemistry programs, where many faculty in the department teach. Faculty are also involved in interdisciplinary PhD programs through the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

“I am excited to join the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. I consider this an incredible privilege and honor to be part of this great institution,” said Li. “Together, we will contribute to its prestige and missions, and improve health and foster scientific progress at the local, national, and global levels.” 

Li will assume the role of chair on Nov. 1, 2018.

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