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Welcome to the Li Lab

The main focus of the Li lab is to elucidate the molecular and epigenetic basis of cancer with the ultimate goal of developing protein- and peptide-based diagnostic or therapeutic agents for cancer.

We employ an integral approach that combines molecular, cellular, structural, and proteomic information to achieve a deep and comprehensive understanding of how proteins interact with one another to transduce regulatory signals and how aberrant changes in cell signaling lead to complex human diseases such as cancer. One of the major focuses of our research is to understand the role of post-translational modifications (PTM), including Tyr, Ser or Thr phosphorylation and Lys or Arg methylation, in regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, apoptosis and the DNA damage response. Because dysregulation of protein phosphorylation and methylation is intimately associated with tumorigenesis and cancer metastasis, we are developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies by targeting these PTMs or their modifying enzymes.


[January 2021] Western News article: Rapid COVID-19 antibody test can check immune response

[July 2020] New research paper: Kyle Biggar et al. Proteome-wide Prediction of Lysine Methylation Leads to Identification of H2BK43 Methylation and Outlines the Potential Methyllysine Proteome.

[July 2020] New research paper: Liya Ming, et al. MMS2plot: An R Package for Visualizing Multiple MS/MS Spectra for Groups of Modified and Non-Modified Peptides.

[June 2020] Congratulations, Owen and Jenny, on their successful PhD transfer!

[May 2020] Dr. Li is funded by the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.

[February 2020] Sally Esmail is back to the lab as an NSERC PDF.

[December 2019] New research paper: Rakesh Joshi, et al. DLC1 SAM domain-binding peptides inhibit cancer cell growth and migration by inactivating RhoA

[December 2019] Shanshan Zhong is developing a new drug to treat breast cancer

[September 2019] Our PhD students Owen Hovey and Shanshan (Jenny) Zhong receive the 2019-20 Breast Cancer Research Trainee Scholarships.

[May 2019] Owen Hovey Studies The Migration Of Breast Cancer Cells

[February 2019] New research paper: Ran Wei, Xuguang Liu, et al. NUMB regulates the endocytosis and activity of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase in an isoform-specific manner

[December 2018] Lab skiing at Boler Mountain

[November 2018] New research paper: Huadong Liu, et al. Surface loops in a single SH2 domain are capable of encoding the spectrum of specificity of the SH2 family.

[November 2018] New research paper: Rui Wang, Mei Huang, et al. Affinity Purification of Methyllysine Proteome by Site-Specific Covalent Conjugation.

[October 2018] New research paper: Tomonori Kaneko, et al. Identification and characterization of a large family of superbinding bacterial SH2 domains.

[September 2018] New research paper: Rui Wang, et al. Reverse Binding Mode of Phosphotyrosine Peptides with SH2 Protein.

[September 2018] Owen Hovey received the Translational Breast Cancer Research Studentship.

[September 2018] Jenny (Shanshan) Zhong and Owen Hovey joined the lab.

[May 2018] Dr. Shawn Li renewed as Canada Research Chair

[December 2017] New research paper: Ran Wei, et al. Interactome mapping uncovers a general role for Numb in protein kinase regulation.

[September 2016] Shawn and Tomo reveive the Worldiscoveries Annual Vanguard Awards.

[September 2016] New research paper: Yangyang Bian, Lei Li, et al. Ultra-deep tyrosine phosphoproteomics enabled by a phosphotyrosine superbinder.

[September 2016] Media Relations: New medical technology from Western drives Precision Proteomics launch.

[April 2016] Shawn receives Dean’s Awards of Excellence for Faculty. [Link to picture ]

[March 2016] Shawn gave a lecture to students of the London International Academy on why science and research matter.

[January 2016] Xuguang Liu explains his research, "Studying why some breast cancer patients are Herceptin-resistant".

[October 2015] Xuguang Liu receives Translational Breast Cancer Research Studentships, 2015-2016.

[July 2015] New research paper: Xuan Cao et al. A phosphorylation switch controls the spatiotemporal activation of Rho GTPases in directional cell migration.

[June 2015] "Blocking the cancer-related signal in HER2 breast cancer", an introduction to Xuguang Liu's research project, is posted on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada website.

[May 2015] "Studying Numb: a protein known to suppress breast cancer", an introductory article written by Ran Wei, is posted on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada website.

[April 2015] New research paper: Huadong Liu et al. A comprehensive immunoreceptor phosphotyrosine-based signaling network revealed by reciprocal protein-peptide array screening

[April 2015] "Uncontrollable growth of cancer cells:Self-sufficiency in growth signals", an introductory article written by Kyle Biggar, is published on the Londoner.

[January 2015] Western News article, "Advancing the science of protein modifications"

[December 2014] Our lab's graduate students Rena and Xuguang become parents.

[November 2014] Inspired by discovery: our postdoctoral fellow Kyle Biggar is featured in the Schulich eNewsletter

[August 2014] Rena and Xuguang receive Translational Breast Cancer Research Studentships, 2014-2015.

[May 2014] Dr. Shawn Li is featured in the Profiles of Excellence video series at Western

[April 2014] Wayne Wu was selected for the Biochemistry Undergraduate Summer Research Program (BUSRP).

[January 2014] New paper: Sandiford, et al. Dual oxidase maturation factor 1 (DUOXA1) overexpression increases reactive oxygen species production and inhibits murine muscle satellite cell differentiation.

[December 2013] Our research is selected as one of "Top Canadian Cancer Society funded research stories of 2013"

[October 2013] An interview to Dr. Shawn Li by Canadian Cancer Society: "Research into a hard-to-treat breast cancer could lead to better treatment"

[May 2013] We are on CTV News: "Two promising studies on breast cancer at Western", and on Metro News: "Western U researcher discovers new protein that could help chemotherapy fight breast cancer"

[May 2013] Video interview to Dr. Shawn Li by Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry: "Research identifies a way to make cancer cells more responsive to chemotherapy"

[May 2013] New research paper: Liu et al. A method for systematic mapping of protein lysine methylation identifies functions for HP1β in DNA damage response.

[May 2013] New research paper: Dhami et al. Dynamic methylation of Numb by Set8 regulates its binding to p53 and apoptosis.