Department of Cell and Cancer Biology

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Li lab website


B.S. 1993 Biology Shandong Normal University, Jinan, China
M.S. 1996 Physiology Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
Ph.D. 2000 Cell & Molecular Biology Inst. of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Post-Doc 2005 Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Dept. of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
Post-Doc 2009 Cell and Cancer Biology Dept. of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA


Our current research interests and projects

 1.    Influence of bone microenvironment on prostate cancer bone metastases and drug resistance

Over 80% prostate cancer deaths are involved with bone metastases. Second-line hormonal therapies such as enzalutamide improve overall patient survival only by several months in about 50% of the patients, and almost all patients develop drug resistance. There is an urgent need to determine the mechanisms of drug resistance and to develop new approaches for overcoming such resistance and for better treatment of prostate cancer bone metastasis. This study is currently supported by an R01 (2019-2024) from NCI.

2.   Influence of bone microenvironment on tumor dormancy and reactivation

It has been proposed that the early disseminated tumor cells are the cells of origin for cancer recurrence. Up to 70% of prostate cancer patients have disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow at the time of initial diagnosis. These cells remain dormant initially but proliferate later to overt metastases that eventually kill patients. Understanding the mechanisms of dormancy and reactivation will provide novel avenues for metastases prevention and inhibition.

3.    Drivers of bone-specific metastasis

Divers for bone-specific metastasis and subsequent bone destruction are still largely unknown. Applying bed to bench side approach. We collaborate with Bin Chen’s (MSU) team analyzing big data of patient and virtual drug screening to instruct our basic research in determining the drivers and testing the efficacy of targeting at pre-clinical setting.

 4.    Intermittent fasting effects on bone metastasis and drug resistance

In recent years, intermittent fasting has been shown many health benefits that are not simply the result of weight loss. Many clinical trials of intermittent fasting in cancer patients are currently in progress. However, no conclusive benefits in cancer incidence, metastasis, treatment responses or drug resistance are reached. Using our unique preclinical mouse models, we aim to answer these questions and further determine the mechanisms of the actions at molecular and cellular level.


Ongoing Research Support

R01 CA230744-01A1, National Cancer Institute
Influence of bone microenvironment on drug resistance in prostate cancer bone metastasis
Role: PI

U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
Developing PTH1R PROTAC degraders for lethal prostate cancer
Role: PI

U.S. Department of Defense
Dormancy mimicking to inhibit prostate cancer metastasis and recurrence
Role: PI

Completed Research Support

W81XWH-16-1-0136, Department of Defense
Ganguly (PI)
Notch Signaling in Prostate Cancer Cells Promotes Osteoblastic Metastasis
Role: Mentor

W81XWH-12-1-0271, Department of Defense
Influence of Primary Microenvironment on Prostate Cancer Osteoblastic Bone Lesion Development
Role: PI

53010UPL2, Van Andel Institute Faculty Innovation Award
Developing tools to keep prostate cancer cells dormant in the bone microenvironment
Role: PI

53010PL2, Van Andel Institute Employee Impact Fund
Sensitizing chemo-resistant cancer stem cells in non-small cell lung cancers
Role: PI

53010A, Van Andel Institute Start-up
TGFbeta signaling in cancer bone metastases
Role: PI


Currently accepting Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D., or M.S.M.D. students


Last Updated: 5/7/24