Technology development: multi-omics

We have developed the first single-cell RNA sequencing platform in Drosophila neurons and glia for studying neural development (Li et al., 2017 Cell; Li et al 2020 Current Biology). Recently, we developed a single-nucleus RNA-seq method in flies (McLaughlin et al, 2021 eLife) and applied it to the Fly Cell Atlas (FCA) project, where we generated the first single-cell transcriptomic map of the entire adult fly (Li et al., 2022 Science).

We will continue developing and applying multi-omics technologies (transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics), and combine them with powerful fly genetic tools to study development, aging and diseases.

Anti-brain aging to increase healthy lifespan

Our long-term goal is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to brain aging, including glia-neuron interactions, systemic inflammatory signals, and gut-brain interactions. We will apply single-cell sequencing, single-bacterium genomics, cell surface proteomics (H. Li, 2020 Review; J. Li, Han, H. Li, 2020 Cell) to study glia-neuron interactions and inter-organ communications to understand the brain aging.

Limiting age-triggered tumor initiation & growth

Age is the biggest risk factor for many types of cancers, including breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers (Li and Jasper, 2016). A central goal of this project is to discover how aging triggers tumor onset in the regenerating intestine. We will use fly intestine as a discovery model to generate hypotheses that we will then test in mouse cancer models and human colon cancer samples, aiming to develop effective strategies for limiting age-related tumor initiation.

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