Li Qiang, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center)
  • Associate Professor of Medical Sciences (in Medicine)
Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center)
  • Associate Professor of Medical Sciences (in Medicine)


  • 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

  • Wan Q*, Calhoun C*, Zahr T, Qiang L. Uncoupling lipid synthesis from adipocyte development. Biomedicines. 2023, 11, 1132.
  • Huang B*, Wan Q*, Li T*, Yu L, Du W, Carmen C, Leong KW#, Qiang L#. Polycationic PAMAM ameliorates obesity-associated chronic inflammation and focal adiposity. Biomaterials. 2023 Feb; 293:121850. PMID: 36450630
  • Zahr T,* Liu L*, Chan M, Zhou Q, Cai B, He Y, Aaron N, Accili D, Sun L, Qiang L. PPARγ deacetylation suppresses aging-associated atherosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB). 2023 Jan;43(1):30-44. PMID: 36453279
  • Wan Q*, Huang B*, Li T, Xiao Y, He Y, Du W, Wang BZ, Fakin FG, Rosenbaum M, Goncalves MD, Chen S, Leong KW#, Qiang L#. Selective targeting of visceral adiposity by polycation nanomedicine. Nature Nanotechnology. 2022 Dec;17(12):1311-1321. PMID: 36456644.
    (Accompanied by Nature Nanotechnology Research Briefing:
  • He Y, Taus AB, Yu L, Yao Y, Zhang R, Zahr T, Aaron N, LeSauter J, Fan L, Liu L, Tazebay R, Que J, Pajvani U, Wang L, Silver R, Qiang L. PPARγ acetylation orchestrates adipose plasticity and metabolic rhythms. Advanced Science. 2023 Jan; 10(2):e2204190.
  • 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:
  • 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 June 23;14(6):6878-6886
  • 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 Aug;69(8): 1793-1803.
  • 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 ameliorates liver metabolic dysfunction 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.(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.
    (Interviewed by BBC, TV Asashi, CBC, CCTV; Reported by NIH Research Matters, Columbia Magazine, etc.; Attention Score #10 of 8629 among all ACS publications.
  • 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. Cell 150(3):620-32 (Highlighted in Nature Medicine; Commentaries in Circulation Research; Nature Medicine Notable Advances in 2012.)
  • 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.