Where are they now: Li Wu

Where are they now: Li Wu

Illuminate newsletter index page, summer-2020-21
December 2020

Professor Li Wu is most passionate about biomedical
research and medical education.

From Melbourne to Beijing, taking immunological research across the globe and inspiring a new generation of researchers.

Li Wu (alum years 1987-2010), Professor of Immunology and Associate Dean, Tsinghua University School of Medicine in Beijing, China, shares her fondest memories of her time at WEHI.

What do you currently do?

I am doing immunological research, mainly focusing on the molecular regulation of mucosal innate immune cell development and function. I am also in charge of the education program for Medical Doctor (M.D.) at Tsinghua University.

What research did you undertake at WEHI?

I was at WEHI for 23 years, firstly as a PhD student, then a postdoc research fellow. I became a faculty member from 1997 as a research fellow and later became a senior research fellow.

"The years I spent at WEHI were some of the most exciting of my career."

My PhD study was to identify the earliest precursors for T-cell development in the thymus. I successfully identified, for the first time, the earliest lymphoid-restricted precursor population in mouse thymus, which could differentiate into both T and B cells.

My postdoctoral research project was to determine the origin of dendritic cells of lymphoid tissues (thymus and spleen). Interestingly, we found that the intrathymic earliest precursor cells could also differentiate into thymic and splenic dendritic cells.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about biomedical research and medical education. The discoveries in medical research and their applications in the treatments of diseases always inspires my research enthusiasm.

What are your professional highlights?

I was awarded the 1996 Burnet Prize for my research achievements at WEHI and an Honorary Doctor Degree from the University of Melbourne, recognising my contribution to establishing the collaborative medical education program between Tsinghua University and the University of Melbourne.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a good cook and a scuba diver.

Super Content: 
2019 Beijing alumni reunion

In October 2019, some 30 alumni gathered in a restaurant in Beijing to dine and reconnect with each other and Institute staff.

Samantha Oakes (alum 2008–2012) talks about her work as Group Leader Cell Survival Group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Photo of large group of alumni members

Keep in contact and share reminiscences with fellow alumni