Our Team

Principal Investigator

Yun Rose Li, MD, PhD

Dr. Li is a assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at the City of Hope Medical Center.

Research Fellow

Errol J. Philip, PhD

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia

Favorite Food: Pavlova

Favorite Artist: Arthur Conan Doyle

Reason I joined the lab:  

I was inspired to work in this field by the tremendous impact that cancer can have on peoples’ lives and loved ones – both in terms of the physical and the psychological.


I originally trained (University of Notre Dame, Memorial Sloan Kettering) and worked as a health psychologist in the field of cancer survivorship. After time spent in research and maintaining a private practice, I decided to return to school to retrain as a physician. I am currently completing medical school at UCSF and hope to (eventually) work as a medical oncologist.

Fun facts:

My wife and I have two young sons (5 & 2 years old) that keep us busy/entertained/exhausted. We also love to travel and in 2014 sold all our possessions and spent a year backpacking throughout the world.

Ziyi (Zoey) Huang, MD

Hometown: Jinhua, Zhejiang, China
Favorite Food: Seafood
Favorite Artist: 万能青年旅店 Omnipotent Youth Society (They only have 2 albums. Both highly recommended!); Ang Lee and Hirokazu Koreeda (Love their movies!)

Reason I joined the lab: 

With the improvement of diagnostic techniques and health awareness, the life expectancy of human-being has extended a lot in the past decades. However, I also find that cancers become a concern of a more general population. It is not as far away as I thought when I was a little kid. Luckily, none of my family members have cancer. But I have a close friend and some relatives suffering from cancer. I would fight for it if there are any more efficient treatments and give the patients a higher quality of life.


I went to medical school at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and worked for the China office of the University of Nebraska Medical Center as the office manager for a couple of years after graduation. 

After being trained to become a healthcare provider in medical school, and being the bridge between society and medical care providers, I find myself enjoying it more when I can provide care to the patients directly. In sight of this, I came to the United States to continue my path of becoming a doctor here. 

Fun facts:
I can mess up the kitchen but still make tasty food! A dog person (versus cat person). A sea person (versus mountain person)

Staff Scientist

Chun Li, PhD

I am Chun Li and had my medical education and academic research training in Medical School of Soochow University in China in 80s of the 20th century. In 1991, I was awarded the McAlester Research Fellowship from USC, which brought me to Los Angeles from my hometown, SuZhou, a beautiful and historical city in eastern China. It is known as the “Venice of the East”. 

I have a long-standing interest in exploring the cancer etiology and treatment.  As a senior medical researcher, I have worked in cancer research area more than 30 years. I have much experience in cell, exosome, DNA, RNA, protein, and mouse model level and clinical medicine. I have been working at City of Hope since 1997. I value the friendship and am an easy and flexible person.  I also like hiking and watching movies.  I enjoy my time with my family and eating Asian food. 

My favorite type of music is classical music, with my favorite composers being Mozart and Beethoven. 

Clinical Research Coordinator

Tariq Abuali, BS

Hometown: Hesperia, CA

Favorite Food: All food I do not discriminate

Favorite artist: The weeknd

Why I joined the lab:

I love the idea of finding new methods to combat cancer and Dr. Li’s lab was very interesting to me especially about the fasting approach.


I attended University of California, Riverside which is where I got my BS in Biology and I worked an intern at a neurofeedback clinic for addiction patients, I was able to again a lot of patient experience and from there I work at PT clinic gaining more experience in other medical fields. I always wanted to be in healthcare because I wanted to be a difference in the community that I served in regarding care. From those experience cancer being one of the areas that I have always wanted to be a part of lead me to City of Hope where I’m able to do in the best possible way.

Fun Facts:

I love to play piano, cook, and operate my cookie business alone on my free time. I’ve traveled to the Middle East and lived there as well as Hawaii. I also like to hike.

Research Associate

Qianhua Feng, MS

Hometown: Guangdong, China

Favorite Food: Hotpot, spicy food 

Favorite Artists: Jay Chou, Yoshitomo Nara

Reason I joined the lab:

I would like to explore how the genes relate to cancer promotion and development and understand what other factors may relate to genetic mutation that increase cancer risk.


I graduated from USC School of Pharmacy. I learned the basic biochemical and molecular biology techniques including MAOA catalytic assay, cell viability MTT assay, metabolic flux Seahorse bioanalyzer, western blots, genotyping from master. I involved several projects of novel anti-cancer drug discovery (MAOA inhibitor-NMI) in glioma, colon cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. I would like to explore the bioinformatics field and want to combine previous knowledges with bioinformatics to understand unclear factors in human cancers.

Fun facts:

I like to watch horror movie, detective TV series, and suspense novels.

Research Interns

Juncong (Ashley) Shi, BS

Hometown: Shenyang, China

Favorite Food: Hotpot

Favorite Artist: Jay Chou

Reason I joined the lab:

I want to apply the computational skills that I learned from school in the context of human cancer and cancer genomics.


I recently graduated from
UCSD majored in Cognitive Science w/ specialization in machine
learning and neural computation. I aspire to transform biological data
into assets that help humans understand themselves and enhance public

Fun facts:

My dream vacation is going to Cappadocia and riding in a hot air balloon.

Ben Mercier, BS

Hometown: La Verne, CA

Favorite Food: Mexican and Italian

Favorite Artist: Gee Tee

Reason I joined the lab:
Cancer is a collection of diseases that affects everyone, almost ubiquitously, whether it be directly or through loved ones. My own life experience is no exception, and I want to apply the skills I have acquired over the course of my undergrad program to make an impact in cancer research.

Growing up in there area, I have been on at least 2 field trips in grade school to City of Hope, so the opportunity to work here myself as a research intern is a bit surreal to say the least. I graduated from UC San Diego in June 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology and want to eventually attend medical school.
Fun fact:
As a hobby, I enjoy hiking as well as playing and making video games in my spare time. I am currently working on my first full-length game independently.

PhD Students

Leslie Wenning, DVM, MS-LAM


Los Angeles

Favorite Food: 

Chile Rellenos and Chicken Katsu Curry

Favorite Artist:

Paul Auster (author of the New York Trilogy)

Reason I joined the lab: 

Cancer is a ubiquitous disease that has personally affected many of my family members and friends. For this reason, I am extremely motivated to make a difference in cancer biology and look forward to developing a mouse model to investigate whether intermittent fasting may mitigate radiation-induced toxicity to normal tissues during pelvic radiation therapy. Indeed, if intermittent fasting has protective effects, it is a cost-effective technique that is available to any patient regardless of socioeconomic status. Thus, by joining the Li Lab, I hope to give individuals with cancer (human or animal) a powerful tool to combat the iatrogenic side effects of radiation therapy.  


As an undergraduate, I majored in Psychology and obtained a New York State Elementary Teaching Certificate from Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY). I loved studying the human mind and genuinely enjoyed teaching elementary school children in both the US and UK. I also enjoyed working with animals while doing undergraduate research. Thus, after graduation, I wanted to enter a field that combined my passions for psychology, education, and research. As either a physician or veterinarian, I could be a health educator and scientist, as well as a source of emotional support, to either patients or patient’s owners. I was torn between applying to medical versus veterinary school, but my father’s passing during that time personally motivated me to become a physician. However, during my third year of medical school, I realized that I missed working with animals. As a veterinarian, not only would I get to work with animals and conduct research, but I would get to use my psychology and education skills with their owners. Subsequently, I left medical school and was accepted to veterinary school. Given my background in human medicine, I was immediately drawn to the field of laboratory animal medicine due to the emphasis on comparative medicine between humans and animals. More importantly, I have always believed that laboratory animals deserve access to enrichment, health, and ethical research protocols. Finally, I had found my calling; and in May 2022, I graduated from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (North Grafton, MA) with a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Master’s in Laboratory Animal Medicine (MS-LAM). Currently, I am a Resident Veterinarian, Laboratory Animal Fellow, and PhD Candidate in Biological Sciences at City of Hope (Duarte, CA). Human and animal health are interconnected, and I look forward to working on preclinical animal models in the Li Lab to provide a better prognosis for both human and animal patients with cancer.  

Fun facts:

 I have a minipig named Truffle who is currently in training with the American Minipig Association to be a therapy animal that I can bring to nursing homes and hospitals. On weekends, you can find me singing karaoke, hunting for skeleton keys at yard sales and flea markets, going metal detecting on beaches, or hiking the Angeles National Forest with my husband, dog, and minipig

Kyle (Wei-Kai) Chen


Tainan, Taiwan

Favorite Food:

Boba milk tea

Favorite Artist:

One direction!

Reason I joined the lab:

I joined up because I already had background knowledge about cancer research during my time as an undergraduate. Seeing the solid tumor development under the microscope is really interesting and figuring out the way to treat them could be challenging!


I graduated from National Taiwan University and majored in Clinical Science and medical biotechnology. Besides, I also had a medical technologist license in Taiwan and had both knowledge in operating clinical samples and academic research. After being a summer intern here in City of Hope, I decided to pursue a PhD degree here. Since I joined a lab that mainly focusing on cancer metabolism during my undergraduate time, I decided to get further knowledge in this field. Combining the metabolic knowledge with oncology is really interesting to me, and I also get to learn lots of innovative lab skills from these two fields. In the future, after getting my PhD degree, I would like to enter industry and searching for a research job to continue pursuing the latest knowledge about cancer.

Fun facts:

  1. Love to go back-packing in different countries (had been in Europe for 3 months)
  1. Enjoy meeting friends from different countries
  2. Addicted to tea and coffee
  3. Can live without Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu

Medical Students

Reeny M. Thomas, MS

My name is Reeny Mary Thomas. I am originally from San Diego, CA. My favorite food is pasta hands down, and my favorite artist is Jane Austen.  A fun fact about me is that I love to bake in my free time!

I completed my undergraduate studies in Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology at UCLA and went on to complete a Masters in Human Genetics and Genomic Data Analytics at the Claremont Colleges. Currently I am a second-year medical student at St. George’s University and hope to pursue a medical career in oncology. I chose to do research in cancer biology in Dr. Li’s lab because I am particularly interested in using computational techniques to understand cancer as I believe it to be the forefront of cancer biology and can have lasting impact on patient lives.

Eemon Tizpa, MS

High School Student

Rishabh Garg

Hometown: Los Angeles

Favorite Food: Chole Bhatura (Indian food)

Favorite Artist: Coldplay

The reason I joined the lab:

Multiple discussions of mutations and genetics in my Biology course have motivated me to learn and research cancer — especially topics like mutations and mechanisms to revert genomic changes. I am excited to join the lab to learn about various molecular biology lab techniques, process research specimens, and help perform analysis of clinical and translational research data. This experience will allow me to interact with other professionals with similar goals. 


I am a Junior at North Hollywood Highly Gifted Magnet and am working towards a career involving pediatric care and oncology research. Currently an intern at CSU Northridge, I work weekly with various agarose and cell migration assays. Active participation in various community activities, especially hospital volunteering, brings me immense satisfaction. I volunteer at Cedar Sinai weekly and had the privilege of assisting as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the entire 2022 summer. 

Fun facts:

I am a foodie! I love cooking and trying different kinds of cuisines. Playing guitar helps me relax. Competing with my friends while playing basketball and solving Rubik’s Cubes excites me. I have also been very fortunate to travel to many countries: United Kingdom, Italy, India, Canada, and Mexico.

Lab Alumni

Sophie Hasson

Currently a 3rd year undergraduate student at Chapman University

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