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Yuanyuan (Rose) Li

Yuanyuan (Rose) Li


Assistant Professor of Surgery and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health


Research Emphasis

Dr. Li’s research is primarily focused on studying the interaction of epigenetic mechanisms and environmental factors such as bioactive dietary compounds in human diseases including cancer, obesity and aging utilizing transgenic mice as main animal models. Nutrition is believed to be an important environmental factor that is involved in regulation of gene expression during disease development through impacting epigenetic pathways. In particular, her primary research strategy investigates epigenetics regulation of reproductive cancers and transplacental/transgenerational disease prevention as well as the interaction of environmental factors and gene regulation during development. Dr. Li is interested in translational studies and strives to apply her research in future clinical trials.


Research Interests

  • Epigenetics diets and cancer/obesity prevention/therapy
  • Developmental origins of human diseases
  • Microbiome and cancer/obesity prevention/therapy
  • Estrogen receptor regulation and breast cancer therapy
  • Epigenetics and aging


  • Ph.D. 2006, Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of
    Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  • MD 2000, Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, China

Selected Publications

Li Y*. Modern Epigenetics Methods in Biological Research. Methods. 2020, accepted. 2020.06.022

Li S, Chen M, Wu H, Li Y*, Tollefsbol TO. Maternal Epigenetic Regulation Contributes to Prevention of Estrogen Receptor-negative Mammary Cancer with Broccoli Sprout Consumption. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020 May;13(5):449-462. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.

Sharma M, Li Y, Stoll ML, Tollefsbol TO. The Epigenetic Connection Between the Gut
Microbiome in Obesity and Diabetes. Front Genet. 2020 Jan 15;10:1329. doi:

Li S, Chen M, Li Y*, Tollefsbol TO. Prenatal epigenetics diets play protective roles against environmental pollution. Clin Epigenetics. 2019 May 16;11(1):82. doi: 10.1186/s13148-019-0659-4.

Li Y*. Epigenetic Mechanisms Link Maternal Diets and Gut Microbiome to Obesity in the Offspring. Frontier in Genetics. 2018, 9:342. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00342.

Li Y*., Buckhaults P., Li S., Tollefsbol T.O., Temporal efficacy of a sulforaphane-based
broccoli sprout diet in prevention of breast cancer through modulation of epigenetic
mechanisms. Cancer Prevention Research, 2018. pii: canprevres.0423.2017. doi:

Paul B., Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Synergistic epigenetic effects of combinatorial genistein and sulforaphane in breast cancer inhibition, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2018, 19(6). pii: E1754. doi: 10.3390/ijms19061754.

Paul B., Royston K, Li Y., et al., Impact of genistein on the gut microbiome of humanized mice and its role in breast tumor inhibition. PLoS one. 2017 Dec 21;12(12):e0189756.

Li Y*., Meeran S.M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Combinatorial bioactive botanicals re-sensitize tamoxifen treatment in ER-negative breast cancer via epigenetic reactivation of ERα9 expression. Scientific Reports, 7(1): 9345, 2017.

Li Y* and Tollefsbol T.O., Age-related epigenetic drift and phenotypic plasticity loss:
Implications in prevention of age-related human diseases. Epigenomics, 8(12):1637-1651, 2016.

Li Y*., Buckhaults P., Cui X., Tollefsbol T.O., Combinatorial epigenetic mechanisms and efficacy of early breast cancer inhibition by nutritive botanicals. Epigenomics, 2016, Aug;8(8):1019-37.

Li Y*., Saldanha S., Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic dietary compounds on transgenerational prevention of human diseases. AAPS Journal, 2014 Jan;16(1):27-36.

Li Y*., Meeran S.M., Patel S.N., Chen H., Hardy T.M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic
reactivation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) by genistein enhanced chemosensitivity in ERα-negative breast cancer. Molecular Cancer, 4;12(1):9 2013.

Chen H., Landen C., Li Y., Alvarez R., Tollefsbol T.O., Epigallocatechin Gallate and
Sulforaphane Combination Treatment Induce Apoptosis in Paclitaxel-Resistant Ovarian Cancer Cells through hTERT and Bcl-2 Down-regulation, Experimental Cell Research,S0014-4827(13)00014-1, 2013.

Chen H., Landen C., Li Y., Alvarez R., Tollefsbol T.O., Enhancement of Cisplatin-mediated Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells through Potentiating G2/M Arrest and p21 Upregulation by Combinatorial Epigallocatechin Gallate and Sulforaphane. Journal of Oncology, 2013:872957, 2013.

Li Y*, Chen H, Hardy TM, Tollefsbol TO. Epigenetic regulation of multiple tumor-related genes leads to suppression of breast tumorigenesis by dietary genistein. PloS one. 2013; 8(1):e54369.

Li Y*., Epigenetic food: a new approach for cancer prevention and therapy. J. of Nutrition & Food Sciences, Editorial report, 2155-9600.1000e103, 2012.

Kala R. Tollefsbol T.O. and Li Y.*, Potential of resveratrol in inhibiting cancer and slowing aging. J. of Nutrition & Food Sciences, 2155-9600.S5-001, 2012.

Meeran S.M., Patel S.N., Li Y. and Tollefsbol T.O., Bioactive dietary supplements
reactivate ER expression in ER-negative breast cancer cells by epigenetic mechanisms
involving active chromatin modifications. PLoS ONE, 2012, 7(5):e37748.

Li Y.*, Daniel M. and Tollefsbol T.O., Epigenetic regulation of caloric restriction in aging. BMC Medicine, 2011, 9, 98-110.