Fang Li, Ph.D.

Fang Li, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

Fang Li, Ph.D., is a professor and Tulloch Endowed Chair in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota. He also serves as the Director of the Minnesota Center for Coronavirus Research and Co-Director of the Midwest Antiviral Drug Discovery Center. Li earned his Ph.D. in structural biology from Yale University and received postdoctoral training in structural virology from Harvard Medical School. 

Li’s main research interest lies in understanding how viruses infect host cells. He has done pioneering work on the receptor recognition and cell entry of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and other coronaviruses. His group has determined many structures of coronavirus invasion proteins and discovered the molecular events that lead to coronavirus entry into host cells. His research has been a major driving force behind what we now know about receptor recognition and cell entry of coronaviruses. Moreover, he has created structure-based strategies for developing vaccines and therapeutics. His research provides foundational knowledge for the field of coronaviruses. 

Li has played a leading role in the global effort against the COVID-19 pandemic. His group were the first to determine key molecular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2, including its receptor recognition, cell entry, immune evasion and potential animal origins. These findings laid the molecular foundations that have guided the global effort against COVID-19. 

Li recently received the Health Care Heroes award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and was named among Top 500 World’s Most Impactful Scientists in a study by Stanford University.