Li Zhang, MD, PhD
Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center
Li Zhang joined the IBRI Diabetes Center in December 2020 and established the Zhang Lab in the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute's Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence. In addition to her appointment at the IBRI, she also is a member of the Indiana University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.
Dr. Zhang's lab studies the pathogenesis of islet autoimmunity and antigen-specific immune interventions for treating type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease. Her group has developed multiple immune interventions, including antigen-specific vaccine, monoclonal antibodies and engineered T cells, and tested their efficacies in reducing the progression of T1D in the spontaneous T1D mouse model.
Ultimately, the goal of the Zhang Lab is to translate the proof of principles tested in pre-clinical models and to develop a drug-like immune therapy to treat new onset T1D in high-risk individuals.
Dr. Zhang started T1D and autoimmune diseases research as a research scholar at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Diabetes Center in 2005 after receiving her PhD from the University of Shandong School of Medicine. In 2006, she started her postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. George S. Eisenbarth at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado.
In 2015, she joined the Baylor College of Medicine as an assistant professor to build her independent lab. During her time there, she studied the role of islet antigen-specific T cells and CAR-T cells in preventing T1D. In addition, she showed the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies in reducing T1D can be significantly improved with broad islet antigen-specificity. These projects were published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, Journal of Visual Experiments, mAbs and others.