Ziru Li


  • Peking University, 2014, Ph.D.

Brief Biography

Dr. Li majored in Clinical Medicine for five years and found her interest in solving the healthy problems related to obesity. Given there are still so many unanswered questions in the field, her curiosity of the biological mechanisms of obesity drove her to a PhD program at Peking University in China. Dr. Li found herself enjoying so much in basic science that as a result, she decided to continue her research as a Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. After finishing her postdoctoral training, she came to Maine and joined MHIR as a Faculty Scientist. Her lab projects are investigating the roles of the gut-bone axis in bariatric surgery-caused bone loss. During the time off from work, she loves doing yoga and handcrafts.

To access CV click here.

Research Interests

  • Metabolism
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Bone
  • Bone marrow adipose


  • Li Z, Qiu K, Zhao J, Granger K, Yu H, Lewis AG, Myronovych A, Toure MH, Hatsell SJ, Economides AN, Seeley RJ, MacDougald OA. Antibodies to sclerostin or G-CSF receptor partially eliminate bone or marrow adipocyte loss, respectively, following vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Bone. 2023 Jan 26:116682. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2023.116682. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36709915.
  • Li Z, Bagchi DP, Zhu J, Bowers E, Yu H, Hardij J, Mori H, Granger K, Skjaerlund J, Mandair G, Singer K, Hankenson HD, Rosen CJ, and MacDougald OA. Constitutive bone marrow adipocytes suppress local bone formation JCI Insight. 2022 Nov 8;7(21):e160915. PMID: 36048537.
  • Li Z, Bowers E, Zhu J, Yu H, Hardij J, Bagchi DP, Mori H, Lewis KT, Granger K, Schill RL, Romanelli SM, Abrishami S, Hankenson KD, Singer K, Rosen CJ, MacDougald O. Lipolysis of bone marrow adipocytes is required to fuel bone and the marrow niche during energy deficits. Elife. 2022 Jun 22;11:e78496. doi: 10.7554/eLife.78496. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35731039.
  • Bozadjieva-Kramer N, Shin JH, Shao Y, Gutierrez-Aguilar R, Li Z, Heppner KM, Chiang S, Vargo SG, Granger K, Sandoval DA, MacDougald OA, Seeley RJ. Intestinal-derived FGF15 protects against deleterious effects of vertical sleeve gastrectomy in mice. Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 6;12(1):4768. PMID: 34362888; PMCID: PMC8346483.
  • Corsa CAS, Walsh CM, Bagchi DP, Foss Freitas MC, Li Z, Hardij J, Granger K, Mori H, Schill RL, Lewis KT, Maung JN, Azaria RD, Rothberg AE, Oral EA, MacDougald OA. Adipocyte-Specific Deletion of Lamin A/C Largely Models Human Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2. Diabetes. 2021 Sep;70(9):1970-1984. PMID: 34088712.
  • Mori H, Dugan CE, Nishii A, Benchamana A, Li Z, Cadenhead TS 4th, Das AK, Evans CR, Overmyer KA, Romanelli SM, Peterson SK, Bagchi DP, Corsa CA, Hardij J, Learman BS, El Azzouny M, Coon JJ, Inoki K, MacDougald OA. The molecular and metabolic program by which white adipocytes adapt to cool physiologic temperatures. PLoS Biol. 19(5):e3000988, 2021. PMID: 33979328
  • Bagchi DP, Nishii A, Li Z, DelProposto JB, Corsa CA, Mori H, Hardij J, Learman BS, Lumeng CN, MacDougald OA. Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulates adipose tissue lipogenesis and adipocyte-specific loss is rigorously defended by neighboring stromal-vascular cells. Mol Metab. 9:101078, 2020. PMID: 32919095
  • Bagchi DP, Li Z, Corsa CA, Hardij J, Mori H, Learman BS, Lewis KT, Schill RL, Romanelli SM, MacDougald OA. Wntless regulates lipogenic gene expression in adipocytes and protects against diet-induced metabolic dysfunction. Mol Metab 20:100992, 2020. PMCID: PMC7264081
  •  Li Z, Hardij J, Evers SS, Hutch CR, Choi SM, Shao Y, Learman BS, Lewis KT, Schill RL, Mori H, Corsa CAS, Bagchi DP, Romanelli SM, Kim K, Griffin C, Seeley RJ, Singer K, Sandoval DA, Rosen CJ, and MacDougald OA. G-CSF partially mediates effects of sleeve gastrectomy on the bone marrow niche. Journal of Clinical Investigation 129: 2404-2416, 2019. PMCID: PMC6546463
  • Li Z, Liu S, Lou J, Zhang W, Mulholland M. LGR4 protects hepatocytes from injury in mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 316: G123-G131, 2019. PMCID: PMC6383381
  • Li Z, Yu R, Yin W, Qin Y, Ma L, Mulholland M, Zhang W. mTOR signaling in X/A-like cells contributes to lipid homeostasis in mice. Hepatology 69: 860-875, 2018. PMCID: PMC6351211
  • Yu R, Li Z, Liu S, Huwatibieke B, Li Y, Yin Y, Zhang W. Activation of mTORC1 Signaling in Gastric X/A-like Cells Induces Spontaneous Pancreatic Fibrosis and Derangement of Glucose Metabolism by Reducing Ghrelin Production. EBioMedicine 36: 304-315, 2018. PMCID: PMC6197745
  • He R, Yin Y, Li Y, Li Z, Zhao J, Zhang W. Esophagus-duodenum Gastric Bypass Surgery Improves Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in Mice. EBioMedicine 28: 241-250, 2018. PMCID: PMC5898028
  • Li Z, Zhang J, Zhang W, Mulholland M. mTOR activation protects liver from ischemia and reperfusion induced injury through NFκB pathway. FASEB J 31: 3018-3026, 2017. PMCID: PMC5471519
  • Xu G, Li Z, Ding L, Tang H, Guo S, Liang H, Wang H, Zhang W. Intestinal mTOR regulates GLP-1 production in mouse L cells. Diabetologia 58: 1887-97, 2015. PMID: 26037201
  • Li Z, Xu G, Qin Y, Zhang C, Tang H, Yin Y, Xiang X, Li Y, Zhao J, Mulholland M, Zhang W. Ghrelin promotes hepatic lipogenesis by activation of mTOR-PPARγ signaling pathway. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111: 13163-8, 2014. PMCID: PMC4246976
  • Li Z, Gao L, Tang H, Yin Y, Xiang X, Li Y, Zhao J, Mulholland M, Zhang W. Peripheral effects of nesfatin-1 on glucose homeostasis. PLoS One 8: e71513, 2013. PMCID: PMC3744551
  • Li Z, Xu G, Li Y, Zhao J, Mulholland MW, Zhang W. 2012. mTOR-dependent modulation of gastric nesfatin-1/NUCB2. Cell Physiol Biochem 29: 493-500, 2012. PMCID: PMC3711577
  • Li Z, Rosen CJ. The Multifaceted Roles of Bone Marrow Adipocytes in Bone and Hematopoietic Homeostasis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2023 Jun 14:dgad355. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgad355. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37315208.
  • Li Z, MacDougald OA. Stem cell factor – the bridge between bone marrow adipocytes and hematopoietic cells; HAEMATOL. 104(9):1689-1691. PMID: 31473604. 2019