Professor Ying Li (李嬰教授)

MD (Beijing), FAGA (US)

Chair Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Chair Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Office: P6322, Yeung Kin Man Academic Building
Phone: +852 3442-2669
Fax: +852 3442-0549
Web: CityU Scholars
Prof. Ying Li

Investigate the brain targets of chronic pain, emotional and cognitive deficits, focusing on the subcortical-Anterior Cingulate Cortical interaction by optogenetics, chemogenetics, electrophysiology and animal behavior.


  • 2017–present, Honors Professor, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong
  • 2009–present, Professor Department of Neuroscience Science, Department Biomedical Science, City University of Hong Kong
  • 2002–2009, Associate Research Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Medical School Department of Internal Medicine Gastroenterology
  • 1993–2001, Research Investigator, Assistant Research Scientist, University of Michigan
  • 1985–1992, Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Associate, University of Michigan
  • 1979–1984, Oral-maxillofacial Surgeon, Nanjing Medical School, China
  • 1969–1978, General Surgeon, Qinghai Huzo and Qinghai Medical School, China
  • 1962–1968, Beijing Medical University, China

Research Topics

  • Central nervous system sensitization, synaptic plasticity and circuit-level interactions
  • Brain target for chronic pain, circuit mechanism of pain and cognitive deficits
  • Glia-neuron interaction, learning and memory
  • Sensory signal transduction in the vagal primary afferent neurons
  • Animal models of neurogenic disorders

A major goal of Prof. Li’s work is to characterize chronic pain sensation and pain affection associated synaptic metaplasticity and circuit-level interactions between the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala that lead to emotional and cognitive disturbances. By combining large-scale neural recordings and optogenetics in free moving animals, Prof. Li and his team characterize the disruptions of ACC phase-locking and network information flow during learning-memory tasks in rats.

His current projects are making significant progress in elucidating astrocyte coupling in large spatial domains, and determining how astrocytic L-lactate signaling facilitates amygdala-ACC, HPC-ACC synchrony and cognition.

Prof. Li ongoing studies investigate the mechanism of brain myelination, seeking to demonstrate that optimal synchrony of spike‑time arrival is of fundamental importance in schematic-like learning, consolidation and memory retrieval.

In addition, Prof. Li is the pioneer of studies which clarified that cholecystokinin-8, a gastrointestinal hormone released during feeding, acts on the vagal afferent and enables the modulation visceral pain-related affective memory and maintains the ACC neural network synchrony in rats.

Ongoing Research Projects

(as sole principle investigator)

NSFC/RGC #9054021, GRF #9042612, GRF #11102820, Shenzhen-Hong Kong Institute of Brain Science #R-BTC0703, Inno HK subproject.

10 Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

  1. Hasan M, Kanna M.S, Wang J, Aruna S. R, Iqbal Z, Lee Y, and Li Y*. Schema-like learning and memory consolidation acting through myelination. The FASEB Journal. 2019, 33(11), 11758-11775.
  2. Jun Wang, Jie Tu, Bing Cao, Li M, X Yang, Mi Cong, Aruna S. R, Rosa H. M, Chan, Liping Wang, Ying Li*. Astrocytic L-lactate Signaling Facilitates Amygdala-Anterior Cingulate Cortex Synchrony and Decision-making in Rats. Cell Reports. 2017, 21, 2407–2418
  3. Bing Cao Jun Wang, Mahadi Shahed, Beth Jelfs, Rosa H. M. Chan & Ying Li*, Vagus Nerve Stimulation Alters Phase Synchrony of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Facilitates Decision Making in Rats. Scientific Reports | 6:35135 | DOI: 10.1038/srep35135. 2016
  4. J Wang, X Zhang, B Cao, J Liu, Ying Li*. Facilitation of synaptic transmission in the anterior cingulate cortex in the viscerally hypersensitive rats Cerebral Cortex 2013; doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht273.
  5. Cao, Z., Wu, X., Chen, S, C Owyang, Y Li*. Anterior cingulate cortex modulates visceral pain as measured by visceromotor responses in viscerally hypersensitive rats, Gastroenterology. 134:535-543, 2008.
  6. J Fan, X Wu, Z Cao, S Chen, C Owyang, and Ying Li*. Upregulation of anterior cingulate cortex NR2B receptors contributes to visceral pain as measured by visceromotor responses in rats. Gastroenterology 136:1732–1740,2009.
  7. Gao J, X Wu, C Owyang, Ying Li*. Enhanced response of the anterior cingulate cortex to colonic distension in viscerally hypersensitive rats. J Physiolog (Lond). 570 (1):169-184, 2006.
  8. Ying Li, Hao Y, Owyang C. Diazepam-binding inhibitor mediates feedback regulation of pancreatic secretion and postprandial release of cholecystokinin. Journal of Clinic Investigation 105:351-359, 2000.
  9. Ying Li, Owyang C. Peptone stimulates CCK-releasing peptide secretion by activating intestinal submucosal cholinergic neurons. Journal of Clinic Investigation 97:1463-1470, 1996.
  10. Ying Li, Owyang C. Vagal afferent pathways mediate physiological action of cholecystokinin on pancreatic secretion. Journal of Clinic Investigation 92:418-424, 1993

  11. Total no. of citations: 2804, H-index: 33;
    Prof. Li is the first or correspondence author of 88% of his publications.