Office: 313 Pavilion

Phone: 412-383-7976

Fax: 412-648-1664


Song Li, MD, PhD
Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Li is a Professor at Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a member of the Center for Pharmacogenetics, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China, and pursued his postdoctoral training with Dr. Leaf Huang. He became a faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2000. Dr. Li has broad knowledge in medicine, biology, and drug and gene delivery and is the author or co-author of over 100 peer-reviewed articles and 27 review articles or book chapters. Dr. Li is an Associate Editor for Journal of Gene Medicine and also serves on the editorial boards of several other journals. He frequently serves on the review panels of NIH, DOD and other funding agencies. Research in Dr. Li’s lab has been continuously supported by grants from various funding agencies including NIH, DOD, and American Heart Association (AHA).

Research Interest

Dr. Li’s research is mainly focused on the development of lipid- and polymer-based nanodelivery systems for targeted delivery of various types of therapeutics including nucleic acids (genes, siRNA, and peptide nucleic acids), proteins, and small molecules (e.g., anticancer agents and antioxidants). Emphases are placed on the discovery of small molecule-based targeting ligands and development of strategies to overcome cellular and in vivo barriers. Another research project in Dr. Li’s group is farnesoid X receptor (FXR)-mediated gene regulation in vascular cells and hepatic stellate cells.

• Drug & Gene Delivery:

Dr. Li’s group has developed a neutral lipid vector that is highly efficient in selective delivery of small-sized nucleic acids (antisense oligos and siRNA). Studies are underway to further improve this system and to examine its therapeutic effect in animal models of pulmonary hypertension, liver cirrhosis, and cancers.

Recent work in Dr. Li’s lab has also led to development of a new series of polymers that show improved transfection and significantly decreased toxicity compared to PEI-based systems. The simplicity and versatility of the synthesis scheme allows generation of a library of compounds for detailed structure-function studies. In addition, functional domains (PEG, ligands, fusogenic peptides) can be readily incorporated into the polymers to provide new functionalities to improve gene delivery efficiency. These polymers are currently under evaluation for delivery of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) transgene or tumor suppressor genes for the treatment of acute lung injury or cancers.

In addition to nucleic acid therapeutics, Dr. Li’s group is also interested in targeted delivery of small molecule drugs such as anticancer cancer agents. As a Core of Drug Delivery of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Counter Measures Against Radiation (CMCR) Program, his lab is involved in the development of smart formulations for delivery of novel radiation mitigators.

• Gene Regulation:

In addition to studies on drug and gene delivery, Dr. Li’s group is also involved in gene regulation. Recent studies from his group have revealed several novel roles of FXR in regulation of vasoactive mediators and anti-fibrotic genes in vascular endothelial/smooth muscle cells and hepatic stellate cells. The long-term goals of these studies are to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of vascular diseases and liver cirrhosis.

Lu, J., Liu, C., Wang, P., Ghazwani, M., Xu, J., Huang, Y., Ma, X., Zhang, P., and Li, S. The self-assembling camptothecin-tocopherol prodrug: an effective approach for formulating camptothecin. Biomaterials 62: 176-187, 2015 (PMID: 26057133)

Zhang, X., Huang, Y., Zhao, W., Liu, H., Marquez, R., Lu, J., Zhang, P., Zhang, Y., Li, J., Gao, X., Venkataramanan, R., Xu, L., and Li, S. Targeted delivery of anticancer agents via a dual function nanocarrier with an interfacial drug-interactive motif. Biomacromolecules 15: 4326-4335, 2014 (PMID: 25325795).

Lu, J., Zhao, W., Liu, H., Marquez, R., Huang, Y., Zhang, Y., Li, J., Xie, W., Venkataramanan, R., Xu, L., and Li, S. An improved D-α-tocopherol-based nanocarrier for targeted delivery of doxorubicin with reversal of multidrug resistance. Journal of Controlled Release 196: 272-286, 2014. (PMID: 25456831)

Zhang, P., Huang, Y., Liu, H., Marquez, R., Lu, J., Zhao, W., Zhang, X., Gao, X., Li, J., Venkataramanan, R., Xu, L., Li, S. A PEG-Fmoc conjugate as a nanocarrier for paclitaxel. Biomaterials 35: 7146-7156, 2014. (PMID: 24856103)

Gao, X., Huang, Y., Makhov, A.M., Epperly, M., Lu, J., Grab, S., Zhang, P., Rohan, L., Xie, X.Q., Wipf, P., Greenberger, J., and Li, S. Nano-assembly of surfactants with interfacial drug-interactive motifs as tailor-designed drug carriers. Molecular Pharmaceutics 10: 187-198, 2013. (PMID: 23244299)

Lu, J., Huang, Y., Zhao, W., Marquez, R.T., Meng, X., Li, J., Gao, X., Venkataramanan, R., Li, S. PEG-derivatized embelin as a novel nanomicellar carrier for targeted delivery of paclitaxel to breast and prostate cancers. Biomaterials 34: 1591-1600, 2013. (PMID: 23182923)

Li, J., Ghazwani, M., Zhang, Y., Lu, J., Li, J., Fan, J., Gandhi, C.R., and Li, S. miR-122 regulates collagen production via targeting hepatic stellate cells and suppressing P4HA1 expression. Journal of Hepatology 58: 522-528, 2013. (PMID: 23178710)

Gao, X., Kuruba, R., Achary, D.K., Day, B.W., Liu, D., and Li, S. Polyhydroxylalkyleneamines: a class of hydrophilic polymer-based gene transfer agents. Journal of Controlled Release 137: 38-45, 2009. (PMID: 19332088)

He, F., Li, J., Mu, Y., Kuruba, R., Ma, Z., Wilson, A., Alber, S., Jiang, Y., Stevens, T., Watkins, S., Pitt, P., Xie, W., and Li, S. Downregulation of endothelin-1 by farnesoid X receptor in vascular endothelial cells. Circulation Research 98: 192-199, 2006. (PMID: 16357303)