Yang Li

Research Assistant Professor
TEMPE Campus


Dr. Yang Li is a Research Assistant Professor at the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University. Her research interests lie in the area of RNA metabolism in human diseases, ranging from characterizing the structure and function of long non-coding RNA to various RNA-binding proteins involved in pathogenesis. One of her currently studying proteins is RBM45, an RNA-binding protein implicated in ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and FTLD (Frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Dr. Li is leading the project that characterizes the macromolecular assembly of RBM45 protein oligomers and its implications for ALS.

Dr. Li is a molecular biologist by training. She completed her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Arizona State University after obtaining B.S. in chemistry at Nankai University, China. In her graduate school at Dr. Julian Chen’s lab, she identified and characterized the first invertebrate telomerase RNA, a long non-coding RNA that is evolutionarily distinct, from purple sea urchin.  She moved to Barrow neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Phoenix and joined Dr. Robert Bowser’s lab for her postdoctoral training. There she expanded her expertise to biomarker discovery, proteome and disease mechanisms in neurodegeneration. She discovered the aggregation-prone propensity of RBM45 in ALS, and dissected its protein and RNA interactomes. She was the recipient of the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship from the ALS Association.

Dr. Li is a member on the RNA Society and the Society for Neuroscience. She also serves on the organizing committee of the Arizona RNA Salon.

Dr. Li speaks English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. She is married and has 2 twin boys. Prior to becoming a proud and obsessed mother, she enjoyed traveling, hiking, playing badminton and Ping Pong, and enjoying good food. Now she is working hard to maintain a work-life balance. 






  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, Arizona State University 2011
  • B.S. Chemistry, Nankai University, China 2004