Zihai Li

Zihai Li

Zihai Li

Professor, Medical Oncology



Biomedical Research Tower Room 580
460 W 12th Ave
Columbus, OH

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Areas of Expertise

  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • RNA Biology
  • Molecular Neurobiology
  • Bioinformatics


  • PhD: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • MD: Zhengzhou University College of Medicine

The research interests of Dr. Zihai Li’s laboratory have primarily been in the field of chaperone biology, immune tolerance and cancer immunology, particularly related to the roles of a key immune chaperone gp96 (known also as grp94) in the endoplasmic reticulum. They advanced the knowledge of gp96/grp94’s client network, structure-function relationship, and co-chaperone CNPY3,  and contributed to the understanding of this key pathway in orchestrating innate immunity, inflammation, hematopoiesis, oncogenesis and developmental biology. The lab currently focuses on developing better immunotherapeutics against cancer via understanding and reprogramming the tolerogenic tumor microenvironment. They have also broadened their interests in elucidating the roles of regulatory T cells, CD8+ T cells and platelets in cancer immunity, untangling the key metabolic switches including unfolded protein response in inflammation and cancer, and developing cell therapy (including CAR-T) and protein therapeutics via synthetic immunology platform (https://cancer.osu.edu/research-and-education/labs-and-facilities/zihai-li-lab).

Zihai has an extensive record of mentoring graduate students, serving as primary advisor to more than 25 students.  His record of mentorship demonstrates a commitment to helping bright, passionate and energetic students become exceptional, independent and well-rounded scientists. As a testimony to this, Zihai received the “Peggy Schachte Research Mentor Award” from Medical University of South Carolina in 2016, awarding to one faculty member per year who has been “widely recognized for encouraging and supporting the advancement and achievements of others as successful investigators and for whom research mentorship has been a major commitment over a significant period of time”.  The research in Zihai’s lab provides opportunities to build knowledge and skill in immunology, cell biology, biochemistry, cancer biology and beyond.  Graduate students working on his team are able to concentrate on every key facets of research including critical thinking, fundamental discovery, drug development, bioinformatics and clinical trials.  Stimulating, productive and rewarding graduate education is a central component of Zihai’s research program.

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