Leaving a Research Legacy: Dean Y. Li Departing the U
Mar 7, 2017 2:00 PM
If you’ve had the pleasure of working with Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., you’ve experienced his passion for discovery and the people who dedicate their lives to it.
His energy is contagious, and for the past 23 years we have been its fortunate beneficiaries as Dr. Li has tirelessly worked to build partnerships, programs, talent and infrastructure that position the University of Utah on the cutting edge of research.
Vivian Lee and Dean Li
As Health Sciences associate vice president and chief scientific officer, Dr. Li has been the chief architect of our strategy to advance science and rapidly transform discoveries into new clinical treatments. In a challenging federal funding environment, he has coordinated our research efforts for success by skillfully striking a balance between individual pursuit of excellence and freedom to explore with ambitious institutional goals. But Dr. Li’s greatest contributions to the future of research may lie in his talent for commercializing clinically relevant basic science discoveries for the benefit of patients and local economies.
Dr. Li’s career will take a new trajectory this spring as he joins Merck & Co. in New Jersey, where he will serve as vice president of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.Internationally recognized for his contributions to our understanding of vascular development and the causes of vascular diseases, Dr. Li has founded or co-founded three innovative biotechnology companies: Hydra Biosciences Inc.; Navigen Inc.; and, most recently, Recursion Pharmaceuticals. His insight has been invaluable to laying a firm foundation for the Utah Genome Project (UGP) and USTAR Center for Genetic Discovery, both of which are University of Utah drug development pipelines that represent successful investments in the future of precision medicine.
I know I speak for my colleagues in saying that Dr. Li’s kindness, his sense of humor, and the tremendous dedication he has shown to our institution will be missed.
Perhaps no one has benefitted more from Dr. Li’s generous nature than his patients at the George E. Wahlen Veterans Administration Medical Center and the students he has instructed as a professor of cardiology, human genetics, and oncological sciences. Success in his own right has never been an ending point for Dr. Li, who has taken great joy in the achievements of his students and colleagues. In 2009, Department of Internal Medicine residents selected him to receive the department’s faculty teaching award, and Dr. Li has personally supervised more than 50 trainees.
Dr. Li serves as primary investigator of the University’s Cardiovascular Research Training Program and as director of the School of Medicine M.D./Ph.D. programs. We also have Dr. Li to thank for creating the Molecular Medicine Program as we know it today, an interdisciplinary incubator for new molecular discoveries.
Stepping in to serve as interim CEO of ARUP Laboratories last year, Dr. Li has been a remarkable champion of this unique resource for our University and the importance of diagnostics in the future of precision medicine. His understanding of the urgency we face in transforming health care has also been invaluable.
“These are things we cannot postpone for another generation or another set of leadership or another set of administration,” he said in a 2013 interview. “These are issues that have to be tackled now, with a view that how we tackle them now will set an enduring infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years.”
During his tenure as an administrator, he’s never flinched from doing just that, and he leaves us with a legacy that has positioned the University of Utah for success for years to come.comments powered by Disqus