Dr. Dawei Li

Dr. Dawei  Li
Assistant Professor


Human Genetics and Genomics

Our past research focused on identifying structural variations and single-point mutations associated with psychiatric disorders. Our recent research aims to identify viral DNA in the human genome in the context of various human diseases. We developed next-generation sequencing-based approach to capture viral DNA/RNA in the human genome. Findings from our research may inform the development of disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies.

Potential viral etiologies in various human diseases
Many human diseases are speculated to have viral etiologies, including cancers and non-cancer diseases. However, for most of these diseases, it is not clear which viruses are involved in the disease development or progression. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) allows us to capture and accurately characterize viral sequences in human DNA/RNA samples. We developed a virome-wide approach in our laboratory to identify viral integrations in the human genome. We have applied this approach to both simulated and experimentally-validated patient samples, and obtained high accuracy. Using this high-throughput screening approach, we identified novel viral integrations in the genomes of the general population as well as various patient samples.

Genetic analyses to identify disease-associated SNPs and structural variations using whole-exome (or genome) sequencing
This part of research aims to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and insertions and deletions in various disease cohorts, using next-generation sequencing and advanced statistical and computational analyses. Findings from the research will provide better understanding of the disease mechanisms towards the development of disease risk prediction, and personalized treatment.

Join our team?
Postdoctoral and student positions are immediately available.

Please check our laboratory webpage (www.uvm.edu/genomics) for updated information

008 Hills

214A Stafford Hall
Lab Website



Dr. Li received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and obtained postdoctoral training in Statistical Genetics at Rockefeller University. He has held a faculty position in psychiatric genetics and genomics at Yale University and joined the UVM faculty in 2012.


Xun Chen
        Postdoctoral Fellow
Jason Kost
        Research Specialist
Arvis Sulovari
        Graduate Student


Sulovari A, Kranzler HR, Farrer LA, Gelernter J, Li D Eye color: A potential indicator of alcohol dependence risk in European Americans. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2015 Jul;168B(5):347-53.

Li D, Zhao H, Kranzler HR, Li M, Jensen KP, Zayats T, Farrer LA, Gelernter J. Genome-wide Association Study of Copy Number Variations (CNVs) With Opioid Dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar;40(4):1016-26.

Sulovari A, Li D. GACT: a Genome build and Allele definition Conversion Tool for SNP imputation and meta-analysis in genetic association studies. BMC Genomics. 2014 Jul 19;15(1):610.

Li D, Sulovari A, Cheng C, Zhao H, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J. Association of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid A Receptor alpha 2 Gene (GABRA2) with Alcohol Use Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Mar;39(4):907-18.

Cao J, Liu X, Han S, Zhang CK, Liu Z, Li D. Association of the HTR2A gene with alcohol and heroin abuse. Human Genetics. 2014 Mar;133(3):357-65.

All Li publications