From Hawaii to Rochester: CTSI Welcomes Dongmei Li

With winter having descended on Rochester, the view out Dongmei Li’s office window is decidedly different than it was earlier this year, when she was looking out across beaches and the Pacific Ocean from her office at the University of Hawai’i at Mᾱnoa.

Dongmei Li, Ph.D.

Dongmei Li, Ph.D.

If Rochester gets a dose of the weather that hit Buffalo last week, her opinion might change. But so far, she has no regrets about leaving the Aloha State to join the University of Rochester.

“Rochester has many, many excellent investigators and fantastic computing resources,” said Li, Ph.D., interim associate professor of clinical and translational research. “And Tim Dye is an excellent leader.”

Li, who joined the CTSI’s bioinformatics team earlier this year, adds to the institute’s fast-growing informatics team. Led by Tim Dye, Ph.D., the group has been incorporated into the foundation of the CTSI.

And while many doctors and scientists spend a portion of their time working within the CTSI, Li is the first faculty member ever appointed to the CTSI.

“I think this designation will be more and more useful going forward as more faculty join the institution whose remit is to conduct and assist with team science, crossing disciplinary boundaries,” said Dye. “Bioinformatics is one area that very naturally fits within this team science and cross-disciplinary space, so her appointment makes a lot of sense.”

Li received her doctorate in biostatistics from The Ohio State University, and spent time in Hawaii as an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Science. While there, she used her expertise to help a variety of researchers tackle biostatistics problems and write grants.

“I had collaborations with the faculty across the Mᾱnoa  campus and down in the kaka’ako campus,” said Li. “The investigators come from multiple schools such as the John A Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene, Center on Disability Studies, Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and College of Education. I also collaborated with investigators in VA Pacific Islands Health Care System for research related to PTSD.”

She also previously collaborated with Dye in Hawaii, where the duo worked on the RMATRIX grant, which stands for RCMI Multidisciplinary And Translational Research Infrastructure eXpansion, and supports translational research, similar to the CTSI.

“Dongmei has worked at the cutting edge of bioinformatics and biostatistics, and was instrumental in working with biomedical investigators in Hawaii conducting genomic research aimed at reducing health disparities,” said Dye. “In addition to this unique expertise, she also was a key team member of a wide range of population health projects, so could work with large population health databases as well.”

Li spends her weekends with her husband and two children, where they often partake in family karate classes. Her office is in the CTSI Director’s Suite; stop by and say hello.

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