Dr. Weizhong Li

lWeizhong Li, Assistant Research Professor

Vaccine development against viral respiratory infections and virus‐host interaction   


2011 ‐ 2017:  Postdoc, Virology and Immunology, University of Maryland, Maryland, USA
2007:  Ph.D., Immunology, Tsinghua University & Peking Union Medical College, China
2004:  MS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Kunming Medical College, Kunming, China
1993:  BS, Biology, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, China
Professional Experiences
2018 ‐ present: Assistant Research Professor, Virginia‐Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
2011 ‐ 2017:     Postdoc Research Associate, Virginia‐Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
2008 ‐ 2010:    Research Associate, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, China
1994 ‐ 2000:    Lecturer of Microbiology and Immunology, Jiaozuo Health School, Jiaozuo, China

Research Interests
I have a great interest in the development of mucosal vaccines against Influenza A virus (IAV) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), two major pathogens causing the infections not only in humans but in poultry and livestock. Influenza A virus has 18 HA subtypes and 11 NA subtypes and numerous strains. The current flu vaccine is generated annually, based on the antigenic composition of epidemic strain.  Due to the frequent antigenic shift or genetic reassortment in influenza virus, a vaccine targeting one strain is generally less efficient against other subtypes & strains. There is an urgent need for the generation of a universal influenza vaccine providing broad protection. RSV is the leading cause of severe lower respiratory tract infections in infants and the elderly. Unfortunately, no clinically approved vaccine is available in the market so far. One important reason can be attributed to the severe adverse effect called vaccine‐enhanced disease (VED) which happens when the immunized individuals get infected with RSV. The goal of my research is to develop an IAV and RSV vaccine which is intranasally‐delivered through the nose and can provide robust, broad, and long‐lasting protection for susceptible populations without safety concern.  To this end, we use the neonatal Fc Receptor (FcRn)‐based vaccine delivery technology which helps the antigen across the mucosal barrier of airways and then elicit potent immune responses in the respiratory tract.    
I also have an interest in investigating the interactions between viruses and hosts and explore the role or biological significance of this interaction during the onset and progression of viral disease. Specifically, I want to know how the influenza virus or RSV hijack the host resources and evade the immune system during the infection. The study may help to identify the novel target for antiviral therapy.
Representative Publications  
Liu X, Palaniyandi S, Zhu I, Tang J, Li W, Wu X, Ochsner SP, Pauza CD, Cohen JI, Zhu X. Human cytomegalovirus evades antibody‐mediated immunity through endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation of the FcRn receptor. Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 9;10(1):3020. doi: 10.1038/s41467‐019‐10865y.  
Shubin Z, Li W, Poonia B, Ferrari G, LaBranche C, Montefiori D, Zhu X, Pauza CD. An HIV Envelope gp120‐Fc Fusion Protein Elicits Effector Antibody Responses in Rhesus Macaques. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017 Jun 5;24(6). doi: 10.1128/CVI.00028‐17. (Co‐first author)  
Finch C, Li W, Perez DR. Design of alternative live attenuated influenza virus vaccines. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2015;386:205‐35. doi: 10.1007/82_2014_404. Review
Li W, Chen H, Sutton T, Obadan A, Perez DR. Interactions between the influenza A virus RNA polymerase components and retinoic acid‐inducible gene I. J Virol. 2014 Sep;88(18):10432‐47. doi:10.1128/JVI.01383‐14. Epub 2014 Jun 18  
Chen H, Angel M, Li W, Finch C, Gonzalez AS, Sutton T, Santos J, Perez DR. All‐in‐one bacmids: an efficient reverse genetics strategy for influenza A virus vaccines. J Virol. 2014 Sep 1;88(17):10013‐25. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01468‐14. Epub 2014 Jun 18.  
Sutton TC, Obadan A, Lavigne J, Chen H, Li W, Perez DR. Genome rearrangement of influenza virus for anti‐viral drug screening. Virus Res. 2014 Aug 30;189:14‐23. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres. 2014.05.003. Epub 2014 May 12  
Zeng J, Wang G, Li W, Zhang D, Chen X, Xin G, Jiang Z, Li K. Induction of cytopathic effect and cytokines in coxsackievirus B3‐infected murine astrocytes. Virol J. 2013 May 21;10:157. doi: 10.1186/1743‐422X‐10‐157  
Li W, Wang G, Zhang H, Shen Y, Dai J, Wu L, Zhou J, Jiang Z, Li K. Inability of NS1 protein from an H5N1 influenza virus to activate PI3K/Akt signaling pathway correlates to the enhanced virus replication upon PI3K inhibition. Vet Res. 2012 Apr 24;43:36. doi: 10.1186/1297‐9716‐43‐36.
Li W, Wang G, Zhang H, Xin G, Zhang D, Zeng J, Chen X, Xu Y, Cui Y, Li K. Effects of NS1 variants of H5N1 influenza virus on interferon induction, TNFalpha response and p53 activity. Cell Mol Immunol. 2010 May;7(3):235‐42. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2010.6. Epub 2010 Mar 15.  
Li W, Wang G, Zhang H, Zhang D, Zeng J, Chen X, Xu Y, Li K. Differential suppressive effect of promyelocytic leukemia protein on the replication of different subtypes/strains of influenza A virus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Nov 6;389(1):84‐9. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.08.091. Epub 2009 Aug 22.