Overview of Interests
Dr. Li has been interested in Inherited Neuropathies (also called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or CMT) and Myelin Biology. Disabilities in many neurological diseases, including inherited neuropathies and motor neuron diseases, are usually caused by one of the two pathophysiological processes: conduction block and/or axonal degeneration. His laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms of the two processes at different levels of biological system, including primary culture neurons/Schwann cells, genetically manipulated rodent models, and human subjects with inherited neuropathies or motor neuron diseases. This approach allows the lab not only to understand the disease better, but also provides opportunity to observe the basic functions of specific genes and coded proteins in vitro, in vivo and human subjects.
Li and his staffers evaluate patients in the clinic dedicated specifically to CMT. Their genotypic and phenotypic manifestations are carefully characterized. The characterization is often assisted by non-invasive techniques, such as conventional nerve conduction study, needle EMG, motor unit number estimation (MUNE), skin biopsies, muscle MRS and neuropathy scores, etc. Data derived from these evaluations raise important scientific questions, which are further explored in vitro and in the related animal models. These are usually achieved by using knockout or transgenic rodents, primary neuronal culture, neuron/Schwann cell coculture, DNA transfection, protein chemistry, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, time-lapse imaging, electron microscopy, immunoEM, animal behavior tests, etc.
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