U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-594-8416
Email: cuilingl@mail.nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Research AssociateContractor, Mammalian Genetics Section, GDDB, NIDDK, NIH2004-2006
  • BIO-TRAC training course: Transgenic Technology: Method and ApplicationFAES Graduate School at NIH2000
  • Research FellowGDDB, NIDDK, NIH1998-2004
  • Visiting FellowLaboratory of Biochemistry and Metabolism, NIDDK, NIH1996-1998
  • CertificateShanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine1993
  • Research AssistantSchool of Pharmacy, Medical University1992-1994
  • B.S.Shanghai Medical University, School of Pharmacy1992

 Related Links


Cuiling Li, Ph.D.

Biologist, Office of the Chief, Genetics of Development and Disease Branch
Biologist, Mouse CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing Facility
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Biology/Cell Signaling
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics/Genomics
  • Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
  • Stem Cells/Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research Summary

Research Goal

If we find a gene with unknown functions, we can knock out the gene to study its physiological function in vivo.

If we know the mutations in human genes are the causes of diseases, we can clone the gene and make the mutations the same as the human cases.  Then we can create mouse models for human diseases.

In both cases, we hope to help researchers find ways to treat or prevent human diseases.

Current Research

The NIDDK Knockout Core Facility was established in 1995 by Dr. Chuxia Deng.  In the nearly two decades from its inception, we have been helping investigators generate more than 100 knockout/knockin mouse lines.

Since mouse gene targeting technology was invented more than 20 years ago, targeting strategies have been expanded to all different kinds of modifications, including point mutations, isoform deletions, mutant allele correction, knockin, chromosomal DNA insertion and deletion, and tissue-specific disruption combined with spatial and temporal regulation using Cre-loxp system.

The mouse models we generated will continue to have a major impact on studies of all phases of development, immunology, neurobiology, oncology, physiology, metabolism, and human diseases.

At the facility, we help NIDDK researchers and collaborating scientists to:

  • make targeting constructs;
  • culture embryonic stem (ES) cells;
  • carry out transfection and identify targeted clones;
  • carry out microinjection to create new mouse lines;
  • mate the chimeras to obtain germline transmission; and
  • answer any questions related to gene targeting.

I perform microinjection and microsurgery by injecting ES cells into blastocysts, and then transplanting the embryo to the foster mother to develop knockout mice.  I specialize in gene targeting and aggregation activities, which include using mouse embryo aggregates with embryos or ES cells to create a new embryo.  I also conduct partial liver hepatectomies and ovary transplantation and oophorectomy.

Applying our Research

Knockout mice have many benefits.  They not only allow researchers to determine gene function and understand diseases at the molecular level, but they also aid scientists in testing new drugs and devising novel therapies.  They also reproduce rapidly, have short life spans, are inexpensive and easy to handle, and can be genetically manipulated at the molecular level.

Need for Further Study

Creating a knockout mouse line takes at least 6 months using traditional method, so we need a way to develop these lines more rapidly.

Updated technology

                Due to the longer time period when using the conventional way to modify genes through targeting ES cells, now we use the newer CRISPR/Cas9 technology to achieve the same goals in a much quicker fashion (time is shortened from about 6 months to 6 weeks). This new technology is rapidly being improved and we are implementing the latest advancements.