Skip to Top Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Yanyan Li, PhD

Associate Professor College of Science and Humanities
Yanyan Li, PhD
Contact: Husson University
116 Beardsley Meeting House 1 College Circle Bangor, Maine 04401
Phone: 207.941.7088
Room: 116 Beardsley Meeting House


Dr. Yanyan Li joined School of Science and Humanities at Husson University in Fall 2014. She received her Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from Ohio State University in 2011, and then worked as an Assistant Professor in Montclair State University in New Jersey for two years before joining Husson.

Dr. Li’s research endeavors center around several critical aspects of phytochmicals with health benefits, particularly cancer chemopreventive properties. Her work on the effects of phytochemicals from cruciferous vegetables on cancer stem cells has generated great impact nationally and internationally. Dr. Li has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals including Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer Letters, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, Nutrition and Cancer, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Drug Resistance Updates, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Future Oncology, Biochemical Pharmacology, Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, Journal of Food Protection. She has presented her research findings at many national and international conferences as well as in other universities.

Dr. Li has received a number of extramural and intramural grants to support her research. One of her current projects is funded by USDA-NIFA, a $500,000 research award shared between Husson University and University of Michigan (Dr. Grace Chen), to understand the role of broccoli sprout bioactives and the gut microbiome in the suppression of colon tumorigenesis.

In addition to her research, Dr. Li also contributes to the professional society by serving as the Editor of Journal of Nutrition and Health and Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering as well as the review board member of Journal of Food Chemistry and Nutrition.

She moved to Maine from New Jersey with her family in summer 2014. Outside of work, spending time with her three little kids and reading books are the most enjoyable things to her.


1. Yanyan Li, Aaron Domina, Gi Lim, Teralyn Chang, Tao Zhang. Evaluation of curcumin, a natural product in turmeric, on Burkitt lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia cancer stem cell markers. Aug 24 2018.  

2. Yanyan Li, Yeon Bai, Bo Wen, Tao Zhang. Comparison of Sulforaphane Content: Traditional vs. Modified Kimchi Recipes. Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sep 2018. Volume 118, Issue 9, Supplement.

3. Yanyan Li, Katharine Atkinson, Tao Zhang. Combination of Chemotherapy and Cancer Stem Cell Targeting Agents: Preclinical and Clinical Studies. Cancer Letters. Mar 12 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2017.03.008.

4. Joseph P. Burnett, Gi Lim, Yanyan Li, Ronak B. Shah, Rebekah Lim, Hayley J. Paholak, Sean P. McDermott, Lichao Sun, Yasuhiro Tsume, Shuhua Bai, Max S. Wicha, Duxin Sun, Tao Zhang. Sulforaphane Enhances the Anticancer Activity of Taxanes against Triple Negative Breast Cancer by Killing Cancer Stem Cells. Cancer Letters. Feb 27 2017.

5. Wenpeng Zhang, Yanyan Li, Peng Zou, Man Wu, Zhenqing Zhang, Tao Zhang. The Effects of Pharmaceutical Excipients on Gastrointestinal Tract Metabolic Enzymes and Transporters – An Update. AAPS J (2016) 18: 830. doi:10.1208/s12248-016-9928-8.

6. Hang Zhao, Yanyan Li, Nick Duarte, John Specchio. Retention of ascorbic acid in broccoli cooked by conventional microwave ovens and inverter microwave ovens. ICCAS Conference Proceedings. June, 2015.

7. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang. Targeting of cancer stem cells by curcumin and clinical applications. Cancer Letters, 2014; 346(2): 197-205.

8. Yanyan Li, Katlyn M. Soriano. African American females: a potential link between vitamin D insufficiency and type-2 diabetes. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, 2014; 1(3): 00015.

9. Yanyan Li, Haiyan Su, John J. Specchio, John P. Schrade, Samuel Chung, and Mandy Unanski. Utilization of steam heat generated via microwave energy in seafood cooking. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, 2014; 1(1): 00003.

10. Yanyan Li, Haiyan Su, John P. Schrade, and John J. Specchio. Transportation of perishable foods in insulated containers: a time-temperature study. Journal of Food Protection. 2014; 77(8): 1317-24.

11. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Xiaoqin Li, Peng Zou, Duxin Sun, and Steven J. Schwartz. Kinetics of sulforaphane in mice after consumption of sulforaphane-enriched broccoli sprout preparation. Mol Nutr Food Res, 2013; 57(12): 2128-36.

12. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang. Targeting cancer stem cells by sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol, 2013; 9(8): 1097-103.

13. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Peng Zou, Jing-yu Yu, Donna McEachern, David D’Argenio, Shaomeng Wang, and Duxin Sun. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics modeling of an antagonist (SM-406/AT-406) of multiple inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) in a mouse xenograft model of human breast cancer. Biopharm Drug Dispos, 2013; 34(6): 348-59. 

14. Yanyan Li, G. Elif Karagoz, Young Ho Seo, Tao Zhang, Yiqun Jiang, Yanke Yu, Steven J. Schwartz, Kate Carroll, Stefan Rudiger, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane inhibits pancreatic cancer through disrupting Hsp90-p50Cdc37 complex and direct interactions with amino acid residues of Hsp90. J Nutr Biochem, 2012; 23(12): 1617-26.

15. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane potentiates the therapeutic efficacy of 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer by enhancing 17-AAG-induced abrogation of Hsp90 chaperone function. Nutr Cancer, 2011; 63(7): 1151-9.

16. Yanyan Li, Max S. Wicha, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. Implications of cancer stem cell theory for cancer chemoprevention by natural dietary compounds. J Nutr Biochem, 2011; 22(9): 799-806.

17. Yanyan Li, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. Book chapter: Potential application of natural dietary components to target cancer stem cells, in “Cancer Stem Cells – The Cutting Edge”, Stanley Shostak, Editor, InTech Publishing, August 2011. ISBN 978-953-307-580-8.

18. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Hasan Korkaya, Suling Liu, Hsiu-Fang Lee, Bryan Newman, Yanke Yu, Shawn G. Clouthier, Steven J. Schwartz, Max S. Wicha, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells. Clin Cancer Res, 2010; 16(9): 2580-90.

19. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Zhenkun Zhu, Mancang Gu, Bryan Newman, and Duxin Sun. MEK inhibition potentiates the activity of Hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer cells. Mol Pharm, 2010; 7(5): 1576-84.

20. Yiqun Jiang, Denzil Bernard, Yanke Yu, Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Shaomeng Wang, Xueqi Fu, and Duxin Sun. Split renilla luciferase protein-fragment-assisted complementation (SRL-PFAC) to characterize Hsp90/p50Cdc37 complex and identify critical residues in protein-protein interactions. J Biol Chem, 2010; 285(27): 21023-36.

21. Yanke Yu, Adel Hamza, Tao Zhang, Mancang Gu, Peng Zou, Bryan Newman, Yanyan Li, A.A. Leslie Gunatilaka, Chang-Guo Zhan, and Duxin Sun. Withaferin A targets heat shock protein 90 in pancreatic cancer cells. Biochem Pharmacol, 2010; 79(4): 542-51.

22. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Yiqun Jiang, Hsiu-Fang Lee, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibits Hsp90 function by impairing Hsp90 association with co-chaperones in pancreatic cancer cell line Mia Paca-2. Mol Pharm, 2009; 6(4): 1152-9.

23. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. New developments in Hsp90 inhibitors as anti-cancer therapeutics: mechanisms, clinical perspective and more potential. Drug Resist Updates, 2009; 12(1): 17-27.

24. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Yanke Yu, Peng Zou, Yiqun Jiang, and Duxin Sun. Characterization of celastrol to inhibit Hsp90 and p50Cdc37 interaction. J Biol Chem, 2009; 284(51): 35381-9.