QianQian Li

QianQian Li

Associate Professor



QianQian Li

Position Title

Associate Professor


M.D. Nanjing Medical University, China, 1982.


Accepting new MS students in 2023: No
Accepting new PhD students in 2023: No

Office Location

5123 Scott Hall


Dr. Li's research involves stem cell biology, cell reprogramming, disease treatment, and cancer biology. 

Research Focus

Research in my laboratory focuses on protein-induced pluripotent stem cell technology that we developed with my long-time collaborator, Dr. Jianjun Wang's laboratory. Using bacterially expressed recombinant reprogramming proteins, we generate protein-induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) from normal cells and diseased cells in 10-14 days with 95.2% conversion efficiency. This technology utilizes our patented polymer/lipid-based QQ-protein delivery to directly deliver bacterially expressed reprogramming proteins into the nuclei of cells to initiate cell reprogramming. We use Sox2, Oct4 and Nanog (SON) proteins for reprogramming to avoid genetic manipulation of cells, virus gene delivery and eliminating oncogenic KLF4 and c-MYC proteins, solving the major safety hurdle for clinical applications.

With this novel piPSC technology, we performed cancer treatment of brain tumor-bearing rats and spontaneous breast cancer metastasis mouse models. Our approach is to directly inject bacterially expressed and QQ-modified recombinant reprogramming proteins via a systemic route. Our data showed very high efficacy of cancer treatment to these tumor bearing rodent models. This allows us to develop an in situ cell reprogramming technology that directly converts tumor cells in both primary and metastatic lesions into non-cancerous cells for high efficacy treatment of cancers in the tumor-bearing animal models. This new cancer therapy significantly reduces therapeutic toxicity, tumor recurrence and side effect. While we are working on repeating these treatment regimens, we are also working on preclinical research of this innovative cancer therapy for breast cancer and brain cancer. Another major direction of my laboratory is to explore the cellular and molecular mechanism of this cancer cell converting therapy.


  • Cui C, Chen J, Zhao W. Wang J and Li Q (2006). Elimination of in vivo cleavage between target protein and intein in the intein mediated protein purification systems. Protein Expression and Purification, 50:74-81. PMID: 16884922
  • Zhang, Y., et al. (2007). A monomeric, biologically active, full-length human apolipoprotein E. Biochemistry 46,10722-10732. PMID: 17715945
  • Zhao W, Zhang YH, Cui CX, Li Q and Wang J (2008). An efficient on-column expressed protein ligation (EPL) strategy, application to segmental triple labeling of human apolipoprotein E3. Protein Science 17:736- 747. PMID: 18305193.
  • Li Q, Huang Y, Xiao N, Murray V, Chen J and Wang J (2008). Real time investigation of protein folding, structure, and dynamics in living cells. Methods in Cell Biology 90, 287-325. PMID: 19195556.
  • Sivashanmugam A., Yang Y., Murray VL., McCullough C., Li Q. and Wang J. (2008). Structural basis of human high-density lipoprotein assembly at atomic resolution. Methods in Cell Biology 90, 327-364. PMID: 19195557.
  • Sivashanmugam A, Meiners V, Cui C, Yang Y, Wang J and Li Q (2009). Practical protocols for production of very high-yield of recombinant proteins in Eschericia coli. Protein Science. 18, 936-948. PMID: 19384993.
  • Murray V, Chen J, Li Q., Wang J, (2010). A practical protocol for gram quantity production of recombinant proteins from one-liter bacterial cell culture. CSH Protocols, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 2010; doi:10.1101/pdb.prot5475. (http://www.cshprotocols.org). PMID: 20679384
  • Chen J., Liu C., Li Q., Bu G. and Wang J. (2011). Two structural domains for the chaperone and escort functions of MESD required for proper folding and trafficking of LRP5/6. Structure 19, 313-323. PMID: 21397183.
  • Chen J, Li Q and Wang J (2011) Unambiguous determination of domain-domain interaction of large multi- domain proteins using a novel segmental labeling strategy. J. Biomol-NMR, 50: 403-410. PMID: 21732209.
  • Chen J, Li Q, Wang J. (2011). The topology of human apolipoprotein E3 uniquely regulates its diverse biological functions. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 108, 14813-8. PMID: 21873229.
  • Murray V., Huang Y., Chen J., Wang J. and Li Q. (2012). A novel bacterial expression method with optimized parameters for very high yield production of triple-labeled proteins for NMR structural studies. Methods in Molecular Biology, 831:1-18. PMID: 22167665.

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