Leanne Li obtained a MD degree from National Taiwan University. After graduation, she moved to Switzerland to study cancer biology at ISREC, EPFL, under the tutelage of Dr. Douglas Hanahan, employing genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) of pancreatic cancers to study how cancer genetics impact disease progression.
Her graduate research demonstrated that certain cancers hijack classical neuronal signaling pathways to respond to tumour microenvironmental cues, hence promoting tumor progression. She was awarded with Junior Debiopharm Life Sciences Award and Pfizer Research Award for unveiling the unexpected link between cancer biology and neuroscience.
She later joined Dr. Tyler Jacks’s laboratory at the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research, MIT, as a postdoctoral fellow supported by Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Mobility Fellowships, Hope Funds Fellowship, and Lung Cancer Research Foundation Award. Her postdoctoral research was centered on small cell lung cancer (SCLC) biology, seeking to identify novel therapeutic targets using genetic screens, and to elucidate fundamental mechanisms of SCLC progression.
Her work for the latter involved neural traits of SCLC cells, as well as functional intratumoral heterogeneity within SCLC tumors, including metabolic symbiosis.
She joined the Francis Crick Institute in 2020 to start her own lab, seeking to further illuminate the intertwined, yet under-explored relationships between cancer biology and neuroscience.