Dr. Li strives to understand the fundamental laws governing the behavior and interactions of cellular systems. Her current work focuses on questions pertaining to the molecular and physical basis of self-organization during morphogenesis, and the evolutionary dynamics of cell division pathways. She wants to apply lessons learned from basic research to the understanding and cure of diseases such as cancer and polycystic kidney disease.
The Rong Li Lab works to understand how eukaryotic cells polarize, divide, move and vary their genomes to adapt to the changing environment. Researchers strive for integrated analyses on the systems level that combines whole-cell quantitative observation and mathematical modeling with cutting-edge molecular genetics approaches. They are interested in how cells generate patterns through self-organization in response to environmental signals, accomplish division or motility through coordinated structural rearrangements and force production, and, when challenged with hostile environments or genetic perturbations, evolve innovative solutions to maintain vitality and functionality.
In addition to the goal of identifying fundamental principles, researchers are actively seeking opportunities to apply basic-research insights to the improvement of human health. Their research areas include cell polarization and segregation of aging determinants; spindle positioning and asymmetric meiotic cell division; motility of differentiated mammalian cells in diverse environments; cellular adaptation through variation of chromosome copy numbers; epithelial morphogenesis; and polycystic kidney disease.
Lab Website: Rong Li Lab
Zhu J, Heinecke D, Mulla W, Bradford WD, Rubinstein B, Box A, Haug JS, Li R. "Single-cell based quantitative assay of chromosome transmission fidelity." G3. 2015;5:1043-56.
Chen G, Mulla WA, Kucharavy A, Tsai HJ, Rubinstein B, Conkright J, McCroskey S, Bradford WD, Weems L, Haug JS, Seidel CW, Berman J, Li R. "Targeting the adaptability of heterogeneous aneuploids." Cell. 2015;160:771-784.
Suraneni P, Fogelson B, Rubinstein B, Noguera P, Volkmann N, Hanein D, Mogilner A, Li R. "A mechanism of leading edge protrusion in the absence of Arp2/3 complex." Mol Biol Cell. 2015;26:901-12.
Zhou C, Slaughter BD, Unruh JR, Guo F, Yu Z, Mickey K, Narkar A, Ross RT, McClain M, Li R. "Organelle-based aggregation and retention of damaged proteins in asymmetrically dividing cells." Cell. 2014;159:530-542.
Smith SE, Rubinstein B, Mendes Pinto I, Slaughter BD, Unruh JR, Li R. "Independence of symmetry breaking on Bem1-mediated autocatalytic activation of Cdc42." J Cell Biol. 2013;202:1091-1106.
Li R. "The art of choreographing asymmetric cell division." Dev Cell. 2013;25:439-450.
Yi K, Rubinstein B, Unruh JR, Guo F, Slaughter BD, Li R. "Sequential actin-based pushing forces drive meiosis I chromosome migration and symmetry breaking in oocytes." J Cell Biol. 2013;200:567-576.
Li R, Albertini DF. "The road to maturation: somatic cell interaction and self-organization of the mammalian oocyte." Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol.2013;14:141-152.
Slaughter BD, Unruh JR, Das A, Smith SE, Rubinstein B, Li R. "Non-uniform membrane diffusion enables steady-state cell polarization via vesicular trafficking." Nat Commun. 2013;4:1380.
Pinto IM, Rubinstein B, Kucharavy A, Unruh J, Li R. "Actin depolymerization drives actomyosin ring contraction during budding yeast cytokinesis." Dev Cell. 2012;22:1247-1260.