Zihai Li, MD, PhD
College of Medicine
Leadership TitleDirector,Institute for Immuno-Oncology
Zihai Li, MD, PhD, is a member of the Translational Therapeutics Program at the OSUCCC – James and the founding director of the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO), which is dedicated to transforming the OSUCCC – James into a leader in basic and clinical immunology research, including prevention and survivorship.
With primary interests in the mechanisms of immune regulation in cancer, Dr. Li’s research team has made seminal contributions to understanding the immunological properties of heat shock proteins in cancer immunotherapy and immune tolerance. They provided the first genetic evidence linking the heat shock response to antigen cross-presentation and adaptive immunity; pioneered the use of autologous, tumor-derived HSP70-peptide complex for the immunotherapy of leukemia; and discovered that gp96, a paralog in the endoplasmic reticulum, is the master molecular chaperone for Toll-like receptors (TLRs).
Dr. Li is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of gp96 biology due to a number of contributions such as the discovery of its ATPase activity, peptide-binding properties and client-binding domain. His current research interests focus on developing better immunotherapeutics against cancer by reprogramming the tolerogenic tumor microenvironment, including regulatory T-cells, thrombocytes and unfolded protein response. His work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, including a program project grant from the National Cancer Institute and four RO1s for which he is principal investigator.
Dr. Li is widely published in scientific journals on the topics of immune tolerance, cancer immunology and chaperone biology. He is also an elected member of such professional organizations as the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP).