Li Qiang, PhD

The Qiang laboratory is in the field of metabolic physiology and applied research. The laboratory focuses on the mechanisms of adipose remodeling in the pathophysiology of obesity and aging, and their common comorbidities, including diabetes (type 2), cardiovascular diseases, and liver metabolic diseases. The laboratory also works closely with experts from interdisciplinary backgrounds, such as engineering, material sciences, and chemistry to develop novel interventions to tackle metabolic conditions.
The laboratory is particularly interested in understanding the transcriptional selectivity of PPARg determined by protein posttranslational modifications (PTMs) in finetuning adipose plasticity and metabolic homeostasis. Through this unique perspective, the laboratory is studying the precise regulation of adipocyte biology, including adipogenesis, browning, hypertrophic growth, inflammation, adipokine production, and lipid and glucose metabolism. The goal is to understand the fundamental mechanism in remodeling adipose tissues and provide new strategies to develop the next-generation drug with improved safety for treating metabolic diseases.

The second research interest of the laboratory is the connection between obesity and aging. Obesity and aging go hand in hand and share similar metabolic derangements. Given that adipose tissue is a driver of aging, the lab aims to mechanistically understand the shared pathologic changes in adipose tissue between obesity and aging. This question is crucial, both scientifically and clinically, for curbing metabolic decline and thereby maximizing human healthspan. Furthermore, the laboratory adopts interdisciplinary and innovative approaches in engineering and material sciences to address a long-lasting challenge in intervening adiposity, that is fat depot-specific targeting. This direction of applied research has significant implications in both health and aesthetics.

Representative Publications

(*: equal contributors; #: co-corresponding authors)

  • Aaron N, Kraakman MJ, Zhou Q, Liu Q, Yang J, Liu L, Yu L, Wang L, He Y, Fan L, Hirakawa H, Ding L, Lo JC, Wang W, Zhao B, Guo EX, Sun L, Rosen CJ, Qiang L. Adipsin promotes bone marrow adiposity by priming mesenchymal stem cells. eLife. 2021 Jun 22;10:e69209. (Accompanied by journal press release: How a bone marrow fat hormone controls metabolism and bone cell development)
  • Liu Q*, Yu J*, Wang L*, Tang Y, Zhou Q, Ji S, Wang Y, Santos L, Haeusler RA, Que J, Rajbhandari P, Lei X, Valenti L, Pajvani UB#, Qin J#, Qiang L#. Inhibition of PU.1 improves liver metabolic dysfunctions and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. J. Hepatology, 2020 Mar 3:S0168-8278(20)30124-0.
  • Kraakman MJ*, Liu Q*, Postigo-Fernandez J, Ji R, Kon N, Larrea D, Namwanje M, Fan L, Chan M, Area-Gomez E, Fu W, Creusot RJ, Qiang L. (2018) PPARg deacetylation dissociates thiazolidinedione's metabolic benefits from its adverse effects. JCI, 128(6):2600-2612. (IF: 14.808)
  • (Accompanied by Commentary in JCI; recommended to F1000Prime.)
  • Zhang Y*, Liu Q*, Yu J, Yu S, Wang J, Qiang L# and Gu Z#. (2017) Locally-induced adipose tissue browning by microneedle patch for obesity treatment. ACS Nano, 11(9):9223-9230. (IF: 15.881) (Interviewed by BBC, TV Asashi, CBC, CCTV; Reported by NIH Research Matters, Columbia Magazine, etc.) Visual highlight