Dr. Dawei Li

Dr. Dawei  Li
Assistant Professor


Human Genetics and Genomics

Genomics: Future of Medicine
Genetic factors account for more than half of the phenotypic variations on the development of most common human diseases, such as mental disorders, diabetes, hypertension, and cancers. The previously identified genes only explain a small percentage of known inherited risk to develop each of these diseases. Most of the genetic factors are still unknown. The molecular basis of the missing heritability may lie in rare single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy number variations (CNVs), gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, epigenetic changes, and other genomic mechanisms on the human genome.

Research in our laboratory aims to understand the genetic basis of these genomic variations and their roles in the etiologies of complex human diseases, particularly mental disorders and brain diseases (e.g., substance use disorders), using the latest high-throughput genomic platforms (e.g., microarrays and next-generation sequencing) and advanced computational tools, followed by functional validations of identified variants. Our studies will provide better understanding of the disease mechanisms towards novel development of early diagnosis, disease prediction, and personalized treatment.

Typical Research Design
The figure below shows the overall design of one of our recent studies. In this example, we have recruited unique, large patient cohorts, and recently completed genome-wide genotyping experiments. The next step is to leverage the big data to identify disease-associated genes using advanced computational tools.

Current Research Topics
1. Genome-wide association study (GWAS)
2. Copy Number Variation (CNV)
3. Meta-analysis
4. Gene discovery and fine-mapping
5. Next generation deep sequencing
6. Mental disorders and brain diseases

Join this brilliant team?
Postdoctoral and student positions are immediately available for motivated, young statistical geneticists who are excited about the unique research and training opportunities. Please check our laboratory webpage (www.uvm.edu/genomics) for more 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 at Rockefeller University in Statistical Genetics. He has held a faculty position in Psychiatry at Yale University and joined the UVM faculty in 2012.


Arvis Sulovari
        Graduate Student


Li D, Zhao H, Kranzler HR, Oslin D, Anton RF, Farrer LA, Gelernter J. Association of COL25A1 with comorbid antisocial personality disorder and substance dependence. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Apr 15;71(8):733-40.

Li D, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Further clarification of the contribution of the ADH1C gene to vulnerability of alcoholism and selected liver diseases. Hum Genet. 2012 Aug;131(8):1361-74. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Li D, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Strong protective effect of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene (ALDH2) 504lys (*2) allele against alcoholism and alcohol-induced medical diseases in Asians. Hum Genet. 2012 May;131(5):725-37.

Li D, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Strong association of the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) with alcohol dependence and alcohol-induced medical diseases. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Sep 15;70(6):504-12.

Li D, He L. Meta-analysis supports association between serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and suicidal behavior. Mol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;12(1):47-54.

All Li publications