Lei Lei


Ph.D. Department of Biochemistry, Michigan State University, East lansing, Michigan, USA 1998
B.S. Department of Biology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China 1991

Brief Biography

Professor Lei has worked at the University of New England since July, 2010.  He teaches undergraduate courses such as Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO 370), Developmental Biology (BIO 407), and Developmental Neurobiology (BIO 450).  He treasures undergraduate education and was given the Debra J. Summers Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018.

In addition to classroom teaching, Professor Lei conducts research on two seemingly distinct but intimately connected topics: 1) transcriptional regulation of gene expression in neural development and 2) origin of life and the evolution of the genetic code.  He has published in high profile journals on both topics, often involving contributions from student researchers that he mentored.

Research Interests

Origin of life and evolution of the genetic code, Transcriptional regulation of gene expression in development and diseases

Post-Doctoral Training

Post-Doctoral Fellow in Developmental Biology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Funded Grants

  • NIH R01: Role of the nerve regeneration-associated gene Sox11 in promoting corneal innervation and reducing epithelial cell damage in dry eye.  PI: Ian Meng, University of New England.
  • P20GM103643, NIH/NIGMS, COBRE: Interdisciplinary Center of Excellence for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function.  PD: Ian Meng, University of New England.
  • Society for Developmental Biology Teaching Faculty Travel Grant.  PI: Lei Lei, University of New England.
  • Arizona Biomedical Research Commission.  PI: Lei Lei, Arizona State University.
  • ASU and Mayo Clinic Arizona Partnership for Collaborative Research Seed Grant Program.  PI: Lei Lei, Arizona State University.
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32), NINDS, NIH.  PI: Lei Lei, UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Invited Plenary Presentation

  • The Northeast Regional IDeA Conference, Bar Harbor, Maine, September 24-26, 2015.
  • The Gordon Research Conference on Neurotrophic Factors, June 2-7, 2013; Newport, RI.
  • Quebec Pain Research Network Annual Meeting, Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, Canada, January 25-27, 2013.
  • Department of Biology, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, December 6, 2012.
  • 38th Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium, MDIBL, Salisbury Cove, Maine, April 15-16, 2011.
  • Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Scarborough, Maine, February 17, 2011.
  • Cell Biology Department, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 19, 2009.
  • Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, February 5, 2009.
  • Advanced Infrared Technology and Applications 2007. Leon, Mexico, October 8-12, 2007.
  • First Annual Neuroscience Symposium cosponsored by the Barrow Neurological Institute and Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, November 4, 2006.
  • The 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. November 10-15, 2001; San Diego, California.


  • Lei, L. and Burton, Z.F. (2022) “Superwobbling” and tRNA-34 wobble and tRNA-37 anticodon loop modifications in evolution and devolution of the genetic code.  Life 12: 252.  
  • Lei, L. and Burton, Z.F. (2021) Evolution of the genetic code.  Transcription 12, 28-53.
  • Lei, L. and Burton, Z.F. (2021) Early evolution of transcription systems and divergence of Archaea and Bacteria.  Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 8.
  • Lei, L. and Burton, Z.F. (2020) Evolution of life on Earth: tRNA, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and the genetic code.  Life 10: 21.
  • Welsbie, D.S., Mitchell, K.L., Ranganathan, V., Sluch, V.M., Yang, Z., Kim, J., Buehler, E., Patel, A., Martin, S., Zhang, P.W., Ge, Y., Duan, Y., Fuller, J., Kim, B.J., Hamed, E., Chamling, X., Lei, L., Fraser, I.D.C., Ronai, Z.A., Berlinicke, C.A., and Zack, D.J. (2017) Enhanced functional genomic screening identifies novel mediators of dual leucine zipper kinase-dependent injury signaling in neurons.  Neuron 94: 1142-1154.
  • Burman, M.A., Simmons, C.A., Hughes, M., and Lei, L. (2014) Developing and validating trace fear conditioning protocols in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 222, 111-7.
  • Wang, Y., Lin, L., Lai, H., Parada, L.F., and Lei, L.* (2013). Transcription factor Sox11 is essential for both embryonic and adult neurogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 242, 638-53. *Corresponding author.
  • Lin, L., Lee, V., Wang, Y., Lin, J., Sock, E., Wegner, M., and Lei, L.* (2011). Sox11 regulates survival and axonal growth of embryonic sensory neurons. Developmental Dynamics 240, 52-64. *Corresponding author.
  • Romero, M., Lin, L., Lush, M., Lei, L., Parada, L.F., and Zhu, Y. (2007).  Deletion of Nf1 in neurons induces increased axon collateral branching after dorsal root injury. Journal of Neuroscience 27, 2124-2134.
  • Lei, L.*, and Parada, L.F. (2007). Transcriptional regulation of Trk family neurotrophin receptors (Invited review).  Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 64, 522-532.  * Corresponding author.
  • Lei, L., Zhou, J., Lin, L., and Parada, L.F. (2006).  Brn3a and Klf7 cooperate to control TrkA expression in sensory neurons.  Developmental Biology 300, 758-769.
  • Lei, L., Laub, F., Lush, M., Romero, M., Zhou, J., Luikart, B., Klesse, L., Ramirez, F., and Parada, L.F. (2005).  The zinc finger transcription factor Klf7 is required for TrkA gene expression and development of nociceptive sensory neurons. Genes & Development 19, 1354-1364.
  • Laub, F., Lei, L., Sumiyoshi, H., Kajimura, D., Dragomir, C., Smaldone, S., Puche, A.C., Petros, T.J., Mason, C., Parada, L.F., and Ramirez, F. (2005).  Transcription factor KLF7 is important for neuronal morphogenesis in selected regions of the nerv¬ous system. Molecular and Cellular Biology 25, 5699-5711.
  • Ma, L., Lei, L., Eng, S.R., Turner, E., and Parada, L.F. (2003).  Brn3a regulation of TrkA/NGF receptor expression in developing sensory neurons.  Development 130, 3525-3534.
  • Lei, L., Ma, L., Nef, S., Thai, T., and Parada, L.F. (2001). mKlf7, a potential transcriptional regulator of trkA nerve growth factor receptor expression in sensory and sympathetic neurons.  Development 128, 1147-1158.
  • Lei, L., Ren, D., and Burton, Z.F. (1999). The RAP74 subunit of human transcription factor IIF has similar roles in initiation and elongation. Molecular and Cellular Biology 19, 8372-8382.
  • Ren, D., Lei, L., and Burton, Z.F. (1999).  A region within the RAP74 subunit of human transcription factor IIF is critical for initiation but dispensable for complex assembly.  Molecular and Cellular Biology 19, 7377-7387.
  • Lei, L., Ren, D., Finkelstein, A., and Burton, Z.F. (1998).  Functions of the N- and C-terminal domains of human RAP74 in initiation, elongation, and recycling of RNA polymerase II.  Molecular and Cellular Biology 18, 2130-2142.
  • Wang, B.Q., Lei, L., and Burton, Z.F. (1994).  Importance of codon preference for production of human RAP74 and reconstitution of the RAP30/74 complex.  Protein Expression  and Purification 5, 476-485.