Postdoctoral Alumni - Bing Li

Bing Li
Assistant professor, Department of Molecular Biology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas

Bing Li is a no-nonsense guy. “For my postdoc, I didn’t care as much about what kind of museums or weather a place had,” says Li, now an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “I wanted to work with a mentor who had a good vision for science and resources to explore new research areas creatively.”

Mission accomplished. As a postdoc with Stowers’ investigator Jerry Workman, Li unveiled a mechanism by which cells maintain the integrity of chromosomal structure while allowing the underlying genetic information to be transcribed. During his postdoc training, Li published 15 papers on the subject, five as first author. 

Li joined Workman’s lab at Penn State in 2002 after earning his Ph.D. at the same institution. He followed his mentor, when Workman was recruited to the Stowers Institute in 2003. “I had never been to the Midwest,” says Li, who is from Beijing and preferred to picture himself moving to Boston or New York. “But Stowers offered cutting-edge bioinformatics and microarray facilities, as well as proteomics and genomics support groups. They made science not only easier for us but also fun.”

Transcription colleagues like Ron and Joan Conaway were already at Stowers, and Jennifer Gerton and Ali Shilatifard were recruited soon after. Li published with all of them. “The intellectual environment was very rich,” he says and the collegiality at the institute quickly won him over. Looking for a place with similar collegial environment, Li moved to the UT Southwestern in 2008 to extend his independent research on chromatin modifications.

Li calls Workman an exceptional mentor. “When Jerry decided to move from Penn State to Stowers, almost everyone in the lab followed,” he says. “That said it all.”