Meet Our Team

Bowen Li

Principle Investigator

bw.li@utoronto.ca

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering & Chemistry (cross-appointed)

Affiliate Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Canada Research Chair in RNA Vaccines and Therapeutics 

GSK Chair in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery

POSITIONS

University of Toronto

Assistant Professor, 02/2022-present

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Institute of Biomedical Engineering (cross-appointed)

Department of Chemistry (cross-appointed)

Faculty Member, PRiME - Precision Medicine initiative

Faculty Member, Emerging & Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC)


Princess Margaret Cancer Centre - UHN

Affiliate Scientist, 01/2023-present 


EDUCATION

2022, Postdoc, Chemical Engineering, MIT, Bob Langer & Daniel Anderson labs

2019, Ph.D., Bioengineering, University of Washington-Seattle, Shaoyi Jiang lab


SELECTED AWARDS AND HONORS

2024 GSK Chair in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery

2024 Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences (CSPS) Early Career Award

2024 ACS Rising Star in Biological, Medicinal, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

2024 Marsha Morton Early Career Investigator Award, Cystic Fibrosis Canada

2022 Canada Research Chair in RNA Vaccines & Therapeutics (Tier 2), CIHR

2022 Gairdner Early Career Investigator Award (selected by Drew Weissman, Katalin Karikó, Pieter Cullis)

2022 Emerging Investigator Award, Journal of Materials Chemistry B

2022 J. P. Bickell Foundation Medical Research Award

2022 Emerging Voice in Drug Delivery, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews

2022 Connaught New Researcher Award

2022 New Initiative and Innovation Award, University of Toronto

2021 Forbes 30 Under 30, Finalist (global top-100 shortlist) 

2021 BMES Career Development Award                                                     

2019 Baxter Young Investigator Award                                                

2019 College of Engineering Student Award for Outstanding Research

2019 Bioengineering Departmental Award for Excellence in Research and Translation

2018 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad 

2017 RSC Soft Matter Award                                                                               

2017 Graduate School Fund for Excellence and Innovation


PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

2024-present NIH Review Panel - Nucleic Acid Therapeutic Delivery Study Section 

2023-present Scientific Advisory Board, Merck KGaA 

2023-present Discovery Award Review Panel, Banting Research Foundation 

2023-present CIHR Project Grant Review Committee - Biomedical Engineering 

Rick Lu

Acceleration Consortium Postdoctoral Fellow 

xrick.lu@mail.utoronto.ca

Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, 2023

Rick earned his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto, supervised by Dr. Milica Radisic. During his doctoral studies, he specialized in replicating heart attacks using heart-on-a-chip models, investigating factors like air pollution and SARS-CoV-2. Moving forward in his postdoctoral research, Rick will focus on building data-driven computational models and gaining insights into the molecular mechanisms that enhance the effectiveness of mRNA therapeutics. In his free time, Rick enjoys photography, exploring new beer and coffee, and expanding his collection of cutting-edge tech gadgets. 

Amy Strilchuk

Schmidt Science Fellow

amy.strilchuk@mail.utoronto.ca

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, 2022

Amy earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of British Columbia. Working in the lab of Dr. Christian Kastrup, Amy studied the biochemical mechanisms of blood coagulation, particularly in the context of hereditary disorders. She developed novel nanomedicine-based approaches for correcting coagulation disorders, using RNA and lipid nanoparticle technologies. As a Schmidt Science Fellow in the Li lab, Amy will further explore the potential of advanced nanomedicine platforms to enable gene editing in a wide range of model systems.

Yue (York) Xu

PRiME-UHN Postdoctoral Fellow

york.xu@utoronto.ca

Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Engineering, China Pharmaceutical University, 2022

Yue Xu received his Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering at China Pharmaceutical University. His research interests focus on Medicinal Chemistry and Biomedical Imaging. He has published first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Journal of Advanced Research, Small, and ACS Sensors. In the Li lab, Yue is working on the de novo design of LNPs for RNA delivery.  

Songtao Dong

Postdoc Fellow

songtao.dong@utoronto.ca

Ph. D. Pharmaceutics, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, 2022

Songtao obtained his PhD in pharmaceutics from the Shenyang Pharmaceutical University (China). His Ph.D. research is focused on advancing nanotechnology to improve the efficiency and safety of cancer therapy. Self-assembled nano-prodrugs, liposomes, and hydrogels are the main technical platforms he studied during his doctoral period. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Li Lab, Songtao will explore the synthesis of new ionizable lipids and investigate novel LNPs for gene therapy.

Kevin Wang

PharmSci Graduate Student

kevinchang.wang@mail.utoronto.ca

M.S., Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, 2022

I am interested in engineering novel RNA molecular therapies using synthetic biology. I completed my BSc in biological sciences at the University of Alberta and my MSc in molecular genetics at the University of Toronto. My diverse research experiences include DNA poxvirus genetics, neuropsychology data acquisition, high-throughput DNA multiplexing technologies, and microfluidic device design and fabrication. In my free time, I enjoy cooking for my family, improving my fitness level, playing video games, and exploring the great outdoors. 

Tiana Young

PharmSci Graduate Student

tiana.young@mail.utoronto.ca

B.S., Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Toronto, 2022

I'm very passionate about research and enjoy learning new things, especially in the field of novel therapeutic solutions. I earned my HBSc at the University of Toronto with a specialization in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and a minor in Immunology. My research experience includes studying the role of the immune system in mediating idiosyncratic drug reactions in the Uetrecht Lab and working on the development of electrochemical biosensors in the Kelley Lab. In my free time, I'm a tech enthusiast and hobby artist who loves to play video games, watch documentaries, and read a good book.

Shannon Tsai

PharmSci Graduate Student, NSERC CGS-M Fellow

sntsai@uwaterloo.ca

B.S., Nanotechnology Engineering, University of Waterloo, 2022

I recently earned my BASc in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo, where I developed an interest in pursuing further research in nanomedicine. My undergraduate research experiences focused on developing plasmonic nanoparticles for biomedical applications and optimizing new methods of measuring the surface energy of micro- and nanoparticles. I also gained industry experience at Precision Nanosystems working on customized GMP systems for manufacturing RNA therapeutics and optimizing lipid nanoparticle formulations for mRNA vaccines. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, drawing, spending time at my cottage, and learning how to bake new desserts.

Alex Golubovic

PharmSci Graduate Student,  NSERC CGS-M Fellow

a.golubovic@mail.utoronto.ca

B.S., Nanotechnology Engineering, University of Waterloo, 2022

Alex is passionate about the targeted delivery of drugs using nanomedicine. He understands that when one’s health falters, it can be extremely debilitating and all-consuming. Thus, he hopes to pave the way for more effective disease treatments with his research. Alex recently graduated with a BASc in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo, primarily working on synthesizing and testing new polymer formulations for thermoplastic applications during his co-ops. He was also a nuclear engineering consultant at NPX. In his free time, Alex loves going to the gym, hiking, watching sports, and listening to psychology podcasts. 

Jingan (Charles) Chen 

BME Graduate Student

charless.chen@mail.utoronto.ca

B.S., Neuroscience, University of Toronto, 2021

Fanglin Gong

BME Graduate Student

fanglin.gong@mail.utoronto.ca

M.S., Pharmaceutics, China Pharmaceutical University, 2023

I am interested in designing novel LNPs for delivering gene editing tools and gene therapy. I earned my master’s degree in Pharmaceutics from China Pharmaceutical University.  My research experience is designing novel liposomes for small molecular delivery. Before joining the Li lab, I published two first-author papers in the Journal of Controlled Release and Nano Letters. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, cooking, and workout.

Nick Solek

BME Graduate Student

n.solek@mail.utoronto.ca

M.S., Biotechnology, Northeastern University, 2023

I am dedicated to developing technologies that enable us to overcome the obstacles that impede human health and well-being. My expertise primarily encompasses nucleic acids and lipid nanoparticles, and I am investigating their potential for pharmaceutical applications. In my approach to research, I maintain an open mind and conduct science with integrity, pursuing knowledge that can fulfill an unmet need. For leisure, I enjoy hiking, reading, writing, and – of course – learning new things.

Muye Zhou

Visiting Student

muye.zhou@mail.utoronto.ca

Ph.D. candidate, China Pharmaceutical University

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Pharmaceutics from China Pharmaceutical University. I am interested in the application of Gene Therapy in different disease models. My previous research focused on the efficacy of 'living cell' drugs and nano-formulations in autoimmune diseases. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, taking photos, and swimming.

Lab Alumni

Name

Andrew Varley

Anni Pan

Justin Keung

Kidus Estifanos Biru

Former Position

Postdoc Fellow

Research technician

NSERC-USRA summer student

Visiting student 

Current Position

Director, RNA & Formulation Core at UBC

Technician,  UHN RNA Medicine Core

UofT PharmD student

MPharm Student, Univ. College London


Hooka

Lab mascot

Instagram: gogohooka

Bothell Kindergarten, 2021-present

Favorite: Puppuccino, flirt pole

Happy birthday Li lab stars!_May 2024🎂

New Year potluck - Happy year of  the🐲!_Feb 2024

A furry mascot lab visit day - Woof! _Apr 2023 🐕

2nd Li lab retreat - "Endosome" escape! _Oct 2023 👻

Christmas potluck- Happy holiday! _Dec 2022 🍲

Farewell to Kidus! _Dec 2022 🇬🇧

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! _Sept 2022 🥮

1st Li lab retreat! _Sept 2022 🏝️

Li lab started from here! _Feb 2022 🔬