Li Qiang, PhD

Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology


  • Chinese

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BS, 2001 Biotechnology, Peking University (China)
  • PhD, 2007 Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Boston University School of Medicine

Honors & Awards

2019 Kern Lipid Conference Early Investigator Award

2013 NIH/NIDDK K99/R00 Career Development Award

2013 Keystone Symposia Scholarship on Adipose Tissue Biology

2007 Henry I. Russek Student Achievement Award, Boston University School of Medicine

2006 Julia Fund Award for Nutritional Science, Boston University School of Medicine


Our lab is interested in posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of transcription factors in the pathophysiology of diabetes and obesity, and their associated comorbidities, including hepatic steatosis, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In particular we focus on: 1) The transcriptional selectivity of PPARγ determined by PTMs in regulating adipose plasticity, including adipogenesis, browning, senescence, adipokine production, lipid and glucose metabolism. We aim to understand the fundamental mechanism in remodeling adipose tissues and provide new strategy to develop the next generation drug for treating Type 2 Diabetes. 2) The novel 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 address the shared metabolic changes in obesity and aging from an adipose perspective. This question is crucial, both scientifically and clinically, for curbing metabolic decline and thereby maximizing human healthspan.

Research Interests

  • Insulin resistance, diabetes and atherosclerosis
  • Lipid metabolism and cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome and aging
  • obesity and adipocyte biology
  • Posttranslational modifications (PTMs), acetylation, SirT1
  • The selective regulation of PPARgamma and nuclear receptor



12/01/2017-11/30/2022 R01 DK112943 (Role: PI) “PPARg Deacetylation in the Restoration of Metabolic Homeostasis”

02/01/2018-01/31/2023 P01 HL087123 (Role: co-I) “PPARg Deacetylation in Cardiometabolic Disease”

08/15/2018-08/14/2020 (Role: PI) Russell Berrie Foundation Research Initiative on the Neurobiology of Obesity

“An Immune Mechanism of Neuronal Dysregulation in Obesity”

07/1/2020-06/31/2021 (Role: co-PI) Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Research Seed (SIRS) “Molecular Scavenger Engineering to Treat Visceral Obesity”

Grant support as the mentor

01/01/2019-12/31/2020 Naomi Berrie Fellow Award (Fellow: Dr. Qianfen Wan)

“Posttranslational Modification Code of PPARg Determines Its Selective Transcriptional Output”

09/01/2019-08/31/2020 T32 DK007328 training grant (Ph.D. student Nikki Aaron)

“Adipsin as a Novel Mediator of Bone Remodeling”

09/01/2020-08/31/2023 Individual NIH F31DK124926 (NIDDK) (Ph.D. student Nikki Aaron)

“Adipsin as a Novel Mediator of Bone Remodeling” (fundable score)


08/1/2013-09/16/2018 K99/R00 DK97455 “Brown Remodeling of White Adipose Tissue by PPARg Deacetylation”

02/15/2016-02/14/2018 Columbia Diabetes Research Center Pilot & Feasibility grant: “PPARg Accumulation and Metabolic Decline in Aging”

05/01/2016-08/01/2016 The Parkinson's Disease Foundation Research Center at Columbia University Planning Grant:

“PGC-1α and PPARg Acetylation in Parkinson Disease”

Selected Publications

*: equal contributors, #: co-corresponding authors

Fang Y, Liu H, Huang H, Li H, Saqi A, Qiang L, Que J. Distinct stem/progenitor cells proliferate to regenerate the trachea, intrapulmonary airways and alveoli in COVID-19 patients. Cell Research, 2020

Zhou Q*, Wan Q*, Jiang Y, Liu J, Qiang L#, Sun L#. A landscape of murine long non-coding RNAs reveal the leading transcriptome alterations in adipose tissue during aging. Cell Reports, 2020 May 26, (21):1078694.

Richter LR*, Wan Q*, Wen D, Zhang Y, Yu J, Gu Z#, Qiang L#, Pajvani UB#. Targeted Delivery of Notch Inhibitor Attenuates Obesity-Induced Glucose Intolerance and Liver Fibrosis. ACS Nano, 2020 May 22.

Liu L, Fan L, Chan M, Kraakman MJ, Yang J, Fan Y, Aaron N, Wan Q, Carrillo-Sepulveda MA, Tall AR, Tabas I, Accili D, Qiang L. PPARg deacetylation confers the anti-atherogenic effect and improves endothelial function in diabetes treatment. Diabetes. 2020 May 14.

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.

McCabe KM, Hsieh J, Thomas DG, Molusky MM, Tascau L, Feranil JB, Qiang L, Ferrante AW, Tall AR, (2020) Antisense oligonucleotide treatment produces a type I interferon response that protects against diet-induced obesity. Mol Metab. 34:146-156.

Chan M*, Yen CL*, Yang J, Namwanje M, Liu L, Qiang L. (2019) Identification of a natural beige adipose depot in mice. J Biol Chem. 294(17):6751-6761.

Namwanje M*, Liu L*, Chan M, Aaron N, Kraakman MJ, Qiang L. (2019) The depot-specific and essential roles of CBP/p300 in regulating adipose plasticity. J Endocrinol. 240(2):257-269.

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. (Commentary by Dr. Lazar MA in JCI; recommended to F1000Prime.)

Kim K, Goldberg IJ, Graham MJ, Sundaram M, Bertaggia E, Lee SX, Qiang L, Haeusler RA, Metzger D, Chambon P, Yao Z, Ginsberg HN, Pajvani UB. (2018) γ-Secretase inhibition lowers plasma triglyceride-rich lipoproteins by stabilizing the LDL receptor. Cell Metab. 27(4):816-827.

Kon N*, Wang D*, Li T, Jiang L, Qiang L# & Gu W#. (2018) Inhibition of Mdmx (Mdm4) in vivo induces anti-obesity effects. Oncotarget, 9:7282-7297

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: 13.903). (Interviewed by BBC, TV Asashi, CBC, CCTV; Reported by NIH Research Matters, Columbia Magazine, etc.; Attention Score #10 of 8629 among all ACS publications.)

Li D, Zhang F, Zhang X, Xue C, Namwanje M, Fan L, Reilly MP, Hu F, Qiang L. (2016) Distinct functions of PPARγ isoforms in regulating adipocyte plasticity. BBRC, 481(1-2):132-138.

Ferrannini G*, Namwanje M*, Fang B, Damle M, Li D, Liu Q, Lazar MA, Qiang L. (2016) Genetic backgrounds determine brown remodeling of white fat in rodents. Mol Metab. 5(10):948-58.

Qiang L*, Kon N*, Zhao W, Jiang L, Knight CM, Welch C, Pajvani U, Gu W, Accili D. Hepatic SirT1-dependent gain-of-function of Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase-1 conveys dysmetabolic and tumor progression functions. Cell Reports, 2015 (11):1797-808

Qiang L, Wang L*, Kon N*, Zhao W, Lee S, Zhang Y, Rosenbaum M, Zhao Y, Gu W, Farmer SR, Accili D. (2012). Brown Remodeling of White Adipose Tissue by SirT1-Dependent Deacetylation of PPARg. Cell150(3):620-32 (Highlighted in Nature Medicine; Commentaries in Circulation Research; Nature Medicine Notable Advances in 2012.)

Qiang L, Tsuchiya K, Kim-Muller JY, Lin HV, Welch CL, Accili D. (2012). Increased atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction in mice bearing constitutively deacetylated alleles of Foxo1. J Biol Chem.287(17):13944-51.

Qiang L, Lin HV, Kim-Muller JY, Welch CL, Gu W, Accili D. (2011). Proatherogenic Abnormalities of Lipid Metabolism in SirT1 Transgenic Mice Are Mediated through Creb Deacetylation. Cell Metabolism, 14(6): 758-67. (Highlighted in Nature Medicine)

Qiang L, Banks AS, Accili D. (2010). Uncoupling of acetylation from phosphorylation regulates FoxO1 function independent of its subcellular localization. J Biol Chem. 285(35):27396-401.

Qiang L, Wang H and Farmer SR. (2007). Adiponectin secretion is regulated by SIRT1 and the endoplasmic reticulum oxidoreductase Ero1-L alpha. Mol Cell Biol. 27(13):4698-707.

Reviews & Editorials

Zhang Y, Yu J, Qiang L#, & Gu Z#. (2018) Nanomedicine for obesity treatment. Science China Life Sciences, 61(4):373-379. (Review).

Tamucci KA, Namwanje M, Fan L, Qiang L. (2017) The dark side of browning. Protein Cell. 2017 Jul 4. (Review).

Qiang L and Accili D. (2012). FGF21 and the second coming of PPARγ. Cell, 148 (3): 397-398.