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Li Gao, M.D., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Li Gao, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Research Interests: Functional genomics and molecular genetics of complex cardiopulmonary diseases, with a focus on translational studies applying fundamental genetic insight into the clinical setting. more

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center
5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle
Room 3A.12A
Baltimore, MD 21224 map
Phone: 410-550-2021
Fax: 410-550-2130


Li Gao, M.D., Ph.D. is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She joined the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of the Department of Medicine in 2005 after completing the NIH-supported T32 postdoctoral fellowship training at Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the American Thoracic Society (ATS), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), and the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). In addition she is an Ad Hoc Reviewer for the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Allergy, Clinical and Molecular Allergy, Critical Care Medicine, BMC Medical Genetics, PLOS ONE and Genetics in Medicine. She is the recipient of the 2006 Interest Section Award of AAAAI; 2007 Award of the NIH Fifth Symposium on the Functional Genomics of Critical Illness and Injury; and 2010 Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. more


  • Assistant Professor
  • Genetic Research Projects Director
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine

Centers & Institutes



  • M.D., Southeast University (Nanjing) Medical College (China) (1990)
  • Ph.D., Southeast University (Nanjing) Medical College (China) (1995)

Additional Training

The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Research & Publications

Research Summary

  1. Implementation of high-throughput technologies in the fields of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), massively parallel sequencing, gene expression analysis, epigenetic mapping and integrative genomics in ongoing research of complex lung diseases including asthma, atopic dermatitis (AD), pulmonary arterial hypertension, COPD, sepsis and acute lung injury/ARDS.
  2. Molecular Determinants of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). With support from the NHLBI-funded Specialized Center for Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) program (PI, Paul Hassoun); Dr. Gao is actively involved in the ongoing genetic studies of pulmonary arterial hypertension.
  3. Epigenetic regulation in pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with systemic sclerosis. Supported by her recent grants funded by “Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program in Pulmonary Arterial hypertension” (2011-2012) and NIH, Dr. Gao will further investigate the epigenetic controls mediated by DNA methylation in regulation of gene transcriptions in pulmonary hypertension.
  4. Genetic Modifiers in Sepsis and Acute Lung Injury. Over the last decade, Dr. Gao has been working on identifying genes important for determining susceptibility to and worst outcome from complex lung diseases such as sepsis and acute lung injury (ALI) using the state-of-art “-omics” technologies and pathway analysis. A major outcome of Dr. Gao’s research thus far is the identification of variants in myosine light chain kinase (MLCK) gene for sepsis that are also associated with asthma. Utilizing functional genomics in both human and various animal models of ALI, Dr. Gao also identified the macrophage migration inhibitory (MIF) as a relevant molecular target in ALI.
  5. Studying genetic variants identified through next generation sequencing in the NIAID-sponsored ‘Atopic Dermatitis Research Network’.  
  6. Other areas of interest include co-associations between asthma and schistosomiasis.

Activities & Honors


  • Interest Section Award, AAAAI, 2006
  • Award of the NIH Fifth Symposium on the Functional Genomics of Critical Illness and Injury, NIH, 2007
  • Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, 2010


  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)
  • American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG
  • American Thoracic Society (ATS)

Professional Activities

  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Allergy
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Clinical and Molecular Allergy
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Critical Care Medicine
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, BMC Medical Genetics
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Genetics in Medicine
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