Yupeng Li

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Yupeng Li


Office Phone
Office Address

Room 2-122
2231 6th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States


Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry


PhD, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

BS, Tongji Medical School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

Expand all



DNA adducts, tobacco carcinogens, drug design, SAR study, organic synthesis

Research Summary/Interests

Under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Hecht, I currently focus on (1) understanding the mechanisms of carcinogenesis caused by tobacco use, (2) developing biomarkers for cancer etiology studies, and (3) promoting chemopreventative agents into clinic.

In addition, I am also interested in cancer chemotherapy. I have received solid trainings in developing small molecule drugs targeting receptor tyrosine kinases (such as Bcr-Abl and DDRs) and Toll-like receptors (TLRs). I look forward to expand my knowledge and make contributions to the related field. 


  1. David S, Li Y, Brush M, Trautman K, Gustafson C, Maurer D, Pathakumari B. Therapeutic compounds and methods of use thereof. PCT/US2019/039940; WO2020009946.
  2. Ding K, Lu X, Zhang T, Tang J, Lu M, Li Y, et al. Preparation method and use of N-4-trifluoromethylphenylsalicylamide derivatives. CN104873522(B).
  3. Ding K, Feng Y, Lu X, Li W, Li Y, Shen M. Synthesis method of ponatinib. CN103570724(B).
  4. Ding K, Li Y, Shen M, Long H, Zhang Z, Leng F, Lu X. Heterocylic benzamide compounds, pharmaceutical compositions as well as application thereof. CN103539784(B).


  1. Li Y#, Shen M#, Zhang Z, Luo J, Pan X, Lu X, et al. Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of 3-(1H-1,2,3-triazol-1-yl)benzamide derivatives as potent pan Bcr-Abl inhibitors including the threonine315-->isoleucine315 mutant. J. Med. Chem. 2012, 55, 10033-10046. (#co-first author)
  2. Ren X#, Pan X#, Zhang Z#, Wang, D, Lu X, Li Y, et al. Identification of GZD824 as an orally bioavailable inhibitor that targets phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated breakpoint cluster region–abelson (Bcr-Abl) kinase and overcomes clinically acquired mutation-induced resistance against imatinib. J. Med. Chem. 2013, 56, 879-894. (#co-first author)
  3. Li Y#, Lu X#, Ren X and Ding K. Small molecule discoidin domain receptor kinase inhibitors and potential medical applications: Miniperspective. J. Med. Chem. 2015, 58, 3287-3301. (#co-first author)
  4. Yoo E, Salyer ACD, Brush MJH, Li, Y, Trautman KL, Shukla NM, et al. Hyaluronic acid conjugates of TLR7/8 agonists for targeted delivery to secondary lymphoid tissue. Bioconjugate Chem. 2018, 29 (8), 2741-2754. 
  5. Nuhn L, Van Hoecke L, Deswarte K, Schepens B, Li Y, Lambrecht BN, et al. Potent anti-viral vaccine adjuvant based on pH-degradable nanogels with covalently linked small molecule imidazoquinoline TLR7/8 agonist. Biomaterials 2018, 178, 643-651.
  6. Van Herck S, Deswarte K, Nuhn L, Zhong Z, Catani JPP, Li Y, et al. Lymph-node-targeted immune activation by engineered block copolymer amphiphile-TLR7/8 agonist conjugates. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140(43), 14300-14307.
  7. Nuhn, L, De Koker S, Van Lint S, Zhong Z, Catani JP, Combes F, Deswarte, K, Li Y, et al. Nanoparticle-conjugate TLR7/8 agonist localized immunotherapy provokes safe antitumoral response. Adv. Mater. 2018, 30, 1803397.
  8. Li Y, Ma B, Cao Q, Balbo S, Zhao L, Upadhyaya P, Hecht SS. Mass spectrometric quantitation of pyridyloxobutyl DNA phosphate adducts in rats chronically treated with N´-nitrosonornicotine. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2019, 32(4), 773-783.
  9. Mo C#, Zhang Z#, Li Y#, Zou J, Luo J, Tu Z, et al. Design and optimization of 3’-(imidazo[1,2-a]pyrazin-3-yl)-[1,1’-biphenyl]-3-carboxamides as selective DDR1 inhibitors. ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 2020, 11(3), 379-384. (#co-first author)
  10. Chen M, Carmella SG, Li Y, Zhao Y, Hecht SS. Resolution and quantitation of mercapturic acids derived from crotonaldehyde, methacrolein, and methyl vinyl ketone in the urine of smokers and non-smokers. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2020, 33(2), 669-677.
  11. Li Y, Carlson ES, Zarth AT, Upadhyaya P, Hecht SS. Investigation of 2'-deoxyguanosine-derived adducts specifically formed in rat liver and lung DNA by N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) metabolism. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2021, ASAP. 
  12. Li Y, Hecht SS. Identification of an N'-nitrosonornicotine-specific deoxyguanosine adduct in rat liver and lung DNA. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2021. ASAP.