Hongjie Li, PhD

Principal Investigator

Hongjie got his bachelor’s degree from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 2010. He joined Dr. Henri Jasper’s lab as a PhD student at University of Rochester and moved with the Jasper lab to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, where Hongjie completed his PhD work in 2016. Hongjie used Drosophila fruit fly as the model organism, and his PhD work involved a variety of topics, including gut stem cell function, gut microbiota, inflammation and aging. Hongjie got his postdoctoral training with Dr. Liqun Luo at Stanford University, where he combined single-cell RNAseq with genetic tools to study fly neural wiring during brain development.

Currently, Hongjie is an assistant professor and CPRIT Scholar at Huffington Center on Aging & Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). His research focuses on understanding aging with the ultimate goal of improving human healthy lifespan. 

Yanyan Qi

Laboratory Director

Yanyan obtained her medical degree of Clinical Medicine from Xinxiang Medical University (equivalent to US MD degree, certified) in China in 2011 and did one-year internship in Hospital. From 2012 to 2016, she worked in Dr. Henri Jasper lab as a Research Assistant at the Buck Institute, Novato CA. Later, she worked as a Life science research professional in Dr. Howard Chang lab at Stanford University, and then as a Senior Research Associate at PACT Pharma in South San Francisco. Before coming to Baylor College of Medicine, she worked with Dr. Ansu Satpathy as LSRP3 at Stanford University. Currently in Li lab, Yanyan is the Laboratory Director. Outside the lab, Yanyan loves cooking, and has recorded every single meal in an Excel table for the last several years. 

Yanyan’s lab expertise includes FACS, scRNAseq, scATACseq, TCR-seq and proteomics. [Google Scholar]

Niccole Auld

Graduate Student

Niccole graduated from the University of West Florida with her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences in 2019. She then joined the cancer and cell biology program at BCM, where she now works in Dr. Li’s lab (from 2021 March). In her spare time, she enjoys painting, taking care of her ever-expanding houseplant collection, and playing with her two cats named Ellie and Salem. 

Tzu-Chiao Lu

Postdoctoral fellow

Tzu-Chiao is a molecular and computational biologist. He got his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from National Chung Cheng University and his PhD in Biology in National Defense Medical Center at Taiwan. He did his postdoc research with Ao-Lin Allen Hsu at National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, where he investigated aging mechanisms and performed scRNAseq profiling in worms. He joined Hongjie’s lab in July 2021 and his research focuses on single cell multi-omics data analysis to understand aging mechanisms and to identify longevity genes in Drosophila.

Madeline Burns

Postdoctoral fellow

Madeline graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Journalism Studies in 2012. She worked in industry before joining Dr. Julia Saltz’s lab at Rice University, where she completed her PhD work in 2021. Madeline’s PhD work focused on the ecological and evolutionary factors contributing to variation in cognition, both within and between species, as well as the influence of cognitive bias in cognitive performance.

Madeline joined the Li Lab in August 2021 as a postdoctoral associate in the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine. Her research focuses on investigating how the brain ages, using a combination of multi-omics and behavioral approaches in the Drosophila fruit fly model system. Outside the lab, Madeline enjoys biking and exercising, trying new recipes, and spending time with friends and family.

Omar Moussa Pasha

Undergraduate student

Omar is an undergraduate student at Rice University majoring in biosciences with a concentration in cell biology and genetics and minoring in neuroscience. He joined Dr. Li’s lab in October 2021 as an undergraduate research assistant to study the mechanisms of aging using a Drosophila fruit fly model system. Outside the lab, Omar enjoys listening to podcasts and spending time with friends and family.

Jinghan Zhao
Rotation student

Ye-Jin Park
Rotation student


Jinghan is from the Neuroscience program.
Ye-Jin is from the Development, Disease Models & Therapeutics (DDMT) program.


David Vacek


2020-2021; undergraduate


Undergraduate, Stanford University

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