Ranging from hair loss to decreased fertility, chemotherapy is well known to have severe negative side effects. Mississippi INBRE funded researcher Dr. Lianna Li is on a mission to improve its effectiveness while also decreasing these side effects. An Assistant Professor of Biology at Tougaloo College, Dr. Li received a Research Initiation Award (RIA) earlier this month from the National Science Foundation to conduct research into the development of better chemotherapeutic drugs.

Dr. Li plans to develop the drugs by targeting DCLK1 genes. This is a novel concept in the world of chemotherapy.

“With successful completion of the proposed research, more knowledge of which DCLK1 isoform can be developed into more effective therapeutic target or other de novo key genes in DCLK1’s molecular network will be achieved, which will lead to the development of better chemotherapeutic drugs for cancer treatment, and a higher survival rate and better life quality of the cancer patients,” states Dr. Li.

The grant has profound implications for other areas of research, including opening the door for more African American undergraduates to engage in biological research experience.

Dr. Li explains, “More African American undergraduate students from the underrepresented Historically Black Colleges and Universities- Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) institute will be trained to gain research experience in the biological field, which will well prepare them for success in their future professional school and career.”

Her research will also be a prime attraction for other undergraduates to take part in the STEM field. More undergraduates mean more future researchers, which in turn means a higher research capacity for the institute, Mississippi and the United States as a whole. Ultimately, this will lead to future biomedical research breakthroughs and healthier communities.

Congratulations to Dr. Li on receiving funding for her research. Mississippi INBRE is proud to have her within our research network. Cancer has long plagued our communities, and Dr. Li’s research represents a major step forward in improving the lives of those afflicted. We are confident that Dr. Li will succeed in her mission to develop better chemotherapeutic drugs.

For more information about Dr. Li’s research click here.