Research in the Li laboratory focuses on pathologic soft tissue calcification, the ectopic deposition of calcium hydroxyapatite crystals in non-skeletal connective tissues. Pathologic soft tissue calcification is a global medical problem, causing significant morbidity and mortality. The Li laboratory studies pathologic soft tissue calcification in both genetic disorders and non-hereditary diseases such as kidney stones. Understanding the mechanisms of ectopic calcification is important as there are currently no specific and effective treatments for this pathology.
We have three research themes in the lab:
- We have a long-standing interest in unraveling the mutational landscape of ectopic calcification in heritable disorders, exemplified by pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) and generalized arterial calcification of infancy (GACI). We use candidate gene and next generation sequencing approaches to identify novel mutations and new genes, expanding the mutation repertoire in a clinically heterogeneous group of ectopic calcification disorders.
- We study the mechanisms of pathologic calcification by developing both in vitro and in vivo murine models of ectopic calcification and identifying factors that promote or inhibit these processes.
- We use murine models as preclinical model systems to explore potential treatments to counteract and possibly reverse ectopic calcification leading to clinical stabilization and improvement of the disease.