Dr. Yingfu Li
Professor, McMaster University
Yingfu Li received a BSc in chemistry from Anhui University in 1983, an MSc in applied chemistry at Beijing Agriculture University in 1989, and a PhD in chemistry and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University in 1997. His doctoral study led to the discovery of one of the earliest DNA molecules with catalytic ability. He achieved this feat through a powerful test-tube evolution technique known as in vitro selection. This work won him Governor General of Canada Gold Medal (1998) and a Doctoral Prize from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (1998). He received a Medical Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow in 1997 and spent the next two years in the laboratory of Ronald Breaker at Yale University to study artificial evolution using DNA as the model system. Through test-tube evolution he derived a series of nucleic acid enzymes that are capable of modifying DNA using chemical reactions that are carried out in cells by protein enzymes.
In 1999, he joined McMaster University as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 2005 and full professor in 2010. At McMaster, he has established a research group to take advantage of the powerful test-tube evolution technique to develop artificial DNA and RNA molecules that can be used to address fundamental biochemical and evolutionary questions or can be utilized for wide-ranging applications including point of care diagnostics.
He has published 163 research and review articles in highly reputed international journals in the area of general science and technology, chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical biology. He has also published 16 book chapters, edited 1 book, and filed 23 patents. He currently serves as an associate editor of Journal of Molecular Evolution and as a member of editorial board of Scientific Reports. He has received many recognitions for his work, including Canada Research Chair, New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Premier Research Excellent Award from Ontario Government, W. A. McBryde Medal from Canadian Society of Chemistry, and Outstanding Young Scientist from National Science Foundation of China.