College of Science


Lab People Lab News

Liwu Li, Ph. D.  Principal Investigator

Dr. Li received his B.S. degree from China in 1986, a Ph.D from Univ. of Michigan in 1996, and did his post-doc training at Michigan till 1999 when he first cloned human CDC14A/B phosphatases involved in dephosphorylating CDK substrates and related PTEN phosphatase.  He was an Assistant and Associate Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine from 1999 till 2005 working on innate memory dynamics.  He has served as an associate editor of the Journal of Immunology, a panel member for various NIH study sections, and president for the Inflammation Research Association. Dr. Li is currently a Professor at Virginia Tech, and holds joint appointment at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and School of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Li is an elected fellow of the American Heart Association.

Research Faculty

Shuo Geng, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor

Selected publication:

Resolving monocytes generated through TRAM deletion attenuate atherosclerosis.2021. JCI Insight 6(20):e149651


Low-grade inflammatory polarization of monocytes impairs wound healing. 2016 J Pathology. 238(4):571-83


The persistence of low-grade inflammatory monocytes contributes to aggravated atherosclerosis. 2016 Nature Communications. 7:13436.


Yao Zhang, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor

Selected publication:

Innate Priming of Neutrophils Potentiates Septic Multiorgan Injury. 2020 Immunohorizons. 4(7):392-401.


Neutrophils Deficient in Innate Suppressor IRAK-M Enhances Anti-tumor Immune Responses. 2020 Molecular Therapy. 28(1):89-99.


Enhanced tumor immune surveillance through neutrophil reprogramming due to Tollip deficiency. 2019. JCI Insight. 4(2):e122939.

Support Faculty, Graduate Students and Scholars
Feng Xu, B.S. Chemistry, Pekin University. Research Faculty Coordinator

Jing Wang, Ph.D. Tsinghua University

Propagation of innate immune memory through cellular communications

Blake Caldwell, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania

Epigenetic modulation of innate immune memory dynamics; systems bioinformatics of innate memory dynamics

Functionally distinct roles for TET-oxidized 5-methylcytosine bases in somatic reprogramming to pluripotency. 2021 Molecular Cell 81(4):859-869.e8.


Yajun Wu, Qingdao University School of Medicine, Graduate Student

Intervention of innate monocyte exhaustion


Udipta Bohara, Hollins University (Joint supervisor: Dr. Biswarup Mukhopadhyay), Graduate Student


Intervention of innate exhaustion with BCG derivatives

Single-cell analysis of innate memory trajectory

Grace Atkinson, University of South Carolina, Graduate Student


Mechanisms of low-grade inflammation memory in monocytes and therapeutic interventions



Heba Mehran, Helwan University, Graduate Student


Neutrophil memory dynamics in health and disease


Ziyue Yi, University of Minnesota, Graduate Student

Single-cell analysis of innate memory trajectory

Selected publication:

Development of Exhausted Memory Monocytes and Underlying Mechanisms. 2021

Frontiers in Immunology. 12:778830. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.778830.


Jackie Hou, Virginia Tech, Undergraduate assistant


Ran Lu, Ph.D, Research Associate

Former Post-docs:

Steve Fasciano, PhD, Chair of Science, Lincoln College of New England

Kathleen Richter, PhD, NIEHS

Jianmin Su, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, VTC Medical School

Qifa Xie, PhD, University of Louisville Medical School

Urmila Maitra, PhD, University of Alabama

Keqiang Chen, PhD, Research Scientist, NIH


Former Graduate Students:

Kisha Pradhan, PhD, Scientist, Catamaran Bio, Boston

Allison Rahtes, PhD, Albany Medical College

Christina Lee, PhD, Stanford Medicine, Arsenal Bio

Brittany Boribong, PhD, Harvard Medical School

Matt Morris, PhD, University of Rochester Medical School

Ruoxi Yuan, PhD, Hospital for Special Surgery/Cornell Medicine

Liz Kowalski, PhD, Virginia Tech

Bianca Baker, PhD, Director, Kala Pharmaceuticals

Chimera Lyle, PhD, Boston University Medical School

Trevor Glaros, PhD, Group leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Samantha Chang, PhD, DVM, Practicing Veterinaian

Neeraj Singh, PhD, DVM, Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University

Lorna Ringwood, PhD, Wake Forest Medicine MD

Mike Surace, PhD, Director, Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals

Lu Gan, PhD, NIH, Clinical Research Scientist

Tamisha Vaughan, PhD, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals


Former Undergradaute students:

Julia Button, UNC School of Medicine

Sean Dougherty, VCU School of Medicine/UVA Residency

Erin Huber, PhD student, John Hopkins School of Public Health

Ka-Po Leung, Pharmacy student, VCU School of Pharmacy

Phil Nguyen, Dental student, VCU School of Dentistry

Andrew Becker, Medical Student, VCOM

Lee Howell, Research Staff, Naval Research Center

Sarah Davis, PhD student, Univ of Tennessee

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