profile photo of wanhe li
Wanhe Li

Assistant Professor
CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research

Li Lab Website

Fax: 979-845-2891




308 BSBW



Joined the Department in 2022

  • B.S., Biological Sciences, Nankai University. 2004
  • Ph.D., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Stony Brook University. 2011 (Joint program with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
  • Postdoctoral Associate & Research Associate,The Rockefeller University.


  • Genetics Society of America
  • Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
  • International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society

Chronic social isolation and loneliness have profound impacts on public health. Though experimental manipulations have been widely applied to studying sleep/wakefulness and circadian regulation in animal models, how normal sleep is perturbed by social isolation and chronic stress is largely unknown. We previously reported that chronically isolated animals exhibit sleep-loss accompanied by overconsumption of food. The observed behavioral changes induced by chronic social isolation stress is linked to neural activities in specific neural circuits in the Drosophila brain. These results resonate with anecdotal findings of loneliness-associated sleep difficulties and hyperphagia in humans, and present a mechanistic link between chronic social isolation, metabolism, and sleep, addressing a long-standing call for animal models focused on loneliness. Future work built upon this model will help us understand the perception of social isolation and other emotional states, the regulation of sleep/wakefulness, and the regulation of metabolism at the intersection of genetics, biological timing, and neurobiology. Furthermore, we seek to apply these findings in stress neurobiology to the field of chronic diseases, and ultimately to establish a genetically tractable model to study the reciprocal relationship between chronic stress and the progression of chronic illness, such as cancer. We are supported by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for developing this new and exciting direction of research.

  1. Guo, C, Jiang, E, Chen, Q, Li, W, Chen, Y, Jia, S et al.. Photo-to-Thermal Conversion Harnessing Low-Energy Photons Renders Efficient Solar CO2 Reduction. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2024;16 (28):36247-36254. doi: 10.1021/acsami.4c03790. PubMed PMID:38963922 .
  2. Lin, X, Hao, Y, Gong, Y, Zhou, P, Ma, D, Liu, Z et al.. Solar overall water-splitting by a spin-hybrid all-organic semiconductor. Nat Commun. 2024;15 (1):5047. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-49511-7. PubMed PMID:38871750 PubMed Central PMC11176302.
  3. Wu, H, Li, W, Liang, Z, Gan, T, Hu, H, Huang, Z et al.. Mechanical activation-enhanced metal-organic coordination strategy to fabricate high-performance starch/polyvinyl alcohol films by extrusion blowing. Carbohydr Polym. 2024;333 :121982. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2024.121982. PubMed PMID:38494234 .
  4. Wang, Y, Li, W. The impostor phenomenon among doctoral students: a scoping review. Front Psychol. 2023;14 :1233434. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1233434. PubMed PMID:37854133 PubMed Central PMC10581342.
  5. Li, W, Liu, S, Huang, K, Qin, S, Liang, B, Wang, J et al.. Preparation of magnetic Janus microparticles for the rapid removal of microplastics from water. Sci Total Environ. 2023;903 :166627. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166627. PubMed PMID:37647968 .
  6. Li, WH, Xiang, ZT, Lu, AX, Wang, SS, Yan, CH. Manganese-induced apoptosis through the ROS-activated JNK/FOXO3a signaling pathway in CTX cells, a model of rat astrocytes. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2023;262 :115326. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2023.115326. PubMed PMID:37556958 .
  7. Li, C, Liu, J, Li, W, Liu, Z, Yang, X, Liang, B et al.. Biobased Intelligent Food-Packaging Materials with Sustained-Release Antibacterial and Real-Time Monitoring Ability. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2023;15 (31):37966-37975. doi: 10.1021/acsami.3c09709. PubMed PMID:37503816 .
  8. Wang, SS, Lu, AX, Li, WH, Zhang, H, Hu, CP, Liu, JX et al.. Effects of food-borne cholesterol supplementation on lead-induced neurodevelopmental impairments of rats based on BDNF signaling pathway and cholesterol metabolism. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2023;259 :115026. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2023.115026. PubMed PMID:37210997 .
  9. Chen, S, Sun, Z, Li, W, Yu, P, Shi, Q, Kong, F et al.. Digital Magnetic Detection of Biomolecular Interactions with Single Nanoparticles. Nano Lett. 2023;23 (7):2636-2643. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.2c04961. PubMed PMID:36971403 PubMed Central PMC10103294.
  10. Wang, Z, Lincoln, S, Nguyen, AD, Li, W, Young, MW. Chronic sleep loss disrupts rhythmic gene expression in Drosophila. Front Physiol. 2022;13 :1048751. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2022.1048751. PubMed PMID:36467698 PubMed Central PMC9716074.
Search PubMed