Dr. Li is very active in both basic science and clinical research and has presented at national and international meetings. He has developed a renowned laboratory focusing on intervertebral disc degeneration pathology and treatment with stem cells, nanotechnology and gene therapy. Dr. Li has been the recipient of about 20 grants as the Principle Investigator including three NIH (National Institute of Health R03, R21 and R01) grants. Perhaps the greatest recognition that an Orthopaedic Researcher can receive in our field is the Kappa Delta Award. Recipients of this award are judged based on the sum total of all of the work that the individual as accomplished to date. Dr. Li received the Kappa Delta Young Investigator award in 2012.



2018-2020 | National Institutes of Health, R21 AR072334-01A1, P.I.
2013-2019 | National Institutes of Health, 1R01AR057390, P.I.
2011-2015 | National Institutes of Health, R21AR57512-1A2 P.I.
2006-2009 | National Institutes of Health, R03AR053653, P.I.
2007-2008 | United State, Department of Defense, Army, Co-I. (Laurencin CT, P.I.)


2018-2019 | 3 Cavaliers, Co-P.I.
2018-2019 | Engineering in Medicine Grant, P.I.
2018-2020 | Commonwealth Health Research Board, Virginia, Co-PI. (Li Jin, P.I.)
2013-2015 | North American Spine Society Research Grant, P.I
2011-2012 | Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Grant, Co-P.I.
2011-2012 | North American Spine Society Research Grant, P.I.
2008-2012 | AO Foundation Focus Grant, P.I.
2008-2010 | AO Foundation Start-up Grant, P.I.
2008-2010 | Scoliosis Research Society Research Grant, P.I.
2007-2008 | Cervical Spine Research Society Seed Grant, P.I.
2005-2007 | Research and Development Grant, University of Virginia, P.I.
2005-2007 | Funding Excellence in Science and Technology (FEST), P.I.
2005-2007 | AO International Research Grant, P.I.
2004-2007 | Arthritis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, P.I.
2007-2008 | Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Grant, P.I.
2005-2007 | North American Spine Society Research Grant, P.I.
2005-2006 | DePuy Company Research Grant, P.I.
2004-2006 | Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Grant, P.I.

Peer-reviewed publications (*corresponding author)


  1. Yerneni K, Burke JF, Tuchman A, Li X, Metz LN, Lehman RA, Lenke LG, Tan LA*. Topical tranexamic acid in spinal surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Nov 3. pii: S0967-5868(18)31267-0.
  2. Tuchman A, Tan LA, Shillingford JN, Li X, Riew KD*. Dynamic changes in the reflex exam of patients with sub-axial cervical stenosis. J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Oct 8. pii: S0967-5868(18)31342-0.
  3. Oshina M, Oshima Y, Tanaka S, Tan LA, Li X, Tuchman A, Riew KD*. Utility of oblique sagittal reformatted and three-dimensional surface reconstruction computed tomography in formainal stenois decompression. Sci Rep. 2018Oct 30;8(1):16011.
  4. Li X, Lenke L*, Tan LA, Tuchman A. Prone position-induced quadriceps transcranial motor evoked potentials signal loss – A case report. Spine Deform.2018 Sep – Oct;6(5):627-630
  5. Tan LA, Yerneni K, Tuchman A, Li X, Cerpa M, Lehman RA Jr., Lenke LG*. Utilization of the 3D-printed spine model for freehand pedicle screw placement in complex spinal deformity correction. J Spine Surgery 2018 Jun;4(2):319-327
  6. Tan LA, Benkli B, Tuchman A, Li X, Desai NN, Bottiglieri TS, Pavel J, Lenke LG*, Lehman RA Jr. High prevalence of greater trochanteric pain syndrome among patients presenting to spine clinic for evaluation of degenerative lumbar pathologies. J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Apr 20. Jul;53:89-91.
  7. Chen DQ, Shimer Al, Li X, Hassanzadeh H, Shen FH, Singla A*. Unplanned immediate return to operating room after spine surgery: significance of immediate postoperative radiographs. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018 Jul 13. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002797. [Epub ahead of print]
  8. Horowitz JA, Puvanesarajah V, Jain A, Li XJ, Shimer AL, Shen FH, Hassanzadeh H*. Rheumatoid Arthritis is associated with an increased risk of postoperative infection and revision surgery in elderly patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018 Sep 1;43(17):E1040-E1044.
  9. Xiao L, Hong K, Roberson C, Ding M, Fernandez A, Shen, FH, Jin L, Sonkusare S, Li X*. Hydroxylated fullerene: A stellar nanomedicine to treat lumbar radiculopathy via antagonizing TNF-α induced ion channel activation, calcium signaling and neuropeptides production. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 2018, 4(1):266-277
  10. Ding M, Jin L, Xie L, Park SH, Tong Y, Wu D, Chhabra AB, Fu Z, Li X*. A murine model for human ECO syndrome reveals a critical role of intestinal cell kinase in skeletal development. Calcif Tissue Int. 2018 Mar;102(3):348-357
  11. Tong Y, Park SH, Wu D, Xu W, Jin L, Li X, Guillot SJ, Wang Y, Lin CS, Fu Z. An essential role for intestinal cell kinase (ICK) in lung development underlies the perinatal lethality phenotype of human endocrine-cerebro-osteodysplasia (ECO) syndrome. The FEBS Lett. 2017 May;591(9):1247-1257
  12. Yeh CH, Chen D, Aghdasi B, Xiao L, Ding M, Jin L, Li X*. Link protein N-terminal peptide and fullerol promote matrix production and decrease degradation enzymes in rabbit annulus cells. Connect Tissue Res. 2017 May 16:1-10
  13. Li T, Xiao Li, Yang J, Ding M, Zhou Z, Laconte L, Jin Li, Dorn H, Li X*. Trimetallic Nitride Endohedral Fullerenes Carboxyl-Gd3N@C80: A New Theranostic Agent for Combating Oxidative Stress and Resolving Inflammation. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2017 May 31;9(21):17681-17687.
  14. Jin L, Ding M, Aghdasi B, Oklopcic A, Yang J, Xiao L, Todorovic V, Li X*. Nanoparticle fullerenol alleviates radiculopathy via inflammasome and neutrotransmitter. Nanomedicine, 2017 Apr 9;13(6):2049-2059.
  15. Xiao L, Ding M, Jin L, Li X*. Curcumin alleviates lumbar radiculopathy via reducing neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and nociceptive factors. Eur Cell Mater. 2017 May 9;33:279-293.
  16. Xiao L, Li T, Ding M, Weiss D, Jin L, Dorn H, Li X*. Detecting chronic post-traumatic osteomyelitis of mouse tibia via an IL-13Rα2 targeted metallofullerene magnetic imaging probe. Bioconjugate and Chemistry, 2017 Feb 15;28(2):649-658
  17. Xiao L, Ding M, Zhang Y, Chordia M, Pan D, Shimer A, Shen F, Glover D, Jin L, Li X*. A novel nodality for functional imaging in acute Intervertebral Disk Herniation via Tracking Leukocyte Infiltration. Mol Imaging Biol. 2017 Oct;19(5):703-713 PMID:28050750, PMC: 5495619
  18. Xiao L, Ding M, Saadoon O, Vess E, Fernandez A, Zhao P, Jin L, Li X*. A Novel Culture Platform for Fast Proliferation of Human Annulus Fibrosis Cells. Cell and Tissue Research, 2017 Feb;367(2):339-350.
  19. Puvanesarajah V, Jain A, Shimer AL, Li X, Singla A, Shen F, Hassanzadeh H*. Complications and Mortality Following 1 to 2 Level Lumbar Fusion Surgery in Patients Above 80 Years of Age. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 10:S292.
  20. Yeh A, Jin Li, Shen FH, Shimer AL, Balian G. Li X*. MiR-221 Attenuates the Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Annulus Fibrosus Cells. Spine J. 2016;16(7):896-904
  21. Zhu C, Ming Z, Liu K, Wan Y, Li X, Feng G*. Novel chitosan hydrogel formed by ethylene glycol chitosan, 1,6-diisocyanatohexan and polyethylene glycol-400 for tissue engineering scaffold: in vitro and in vivo evaluation. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 2014;25(8):1903-13
  22. Jin L*, Liu Q, Scott P, Zhang D, Shen FH, Balian G, Li X. Annulus Fibrosus Cell Characteristics Are a Potential Source of Intervertebral Disc Pathogenesis. PLoS One. 2014;5;9(5):e96519.
  23. Yang X, Jin L, Yao L, Shen FH, Shimer A, Li X*. Antioxidative Nano-fullerol Prevents Intervertebral Disc Degeneration. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 2014; 9: 1-12
  24. Liu Q, Cui Q, Li X, Jin Li*. The Applications of Buckminsterfullerene C60 and Derivatives in Orthopaedic Research. Connective Tissue Research, 2014; 55(2):71-9
  25. Yang D, Wang D, Shimer A, Shen FH, Li X, Yang X*. Glutathione protects human nucleus pulposus cells from cell apoptosis and inhibition of matrix synthesis. Connect Tissue Res. 2014; 55(2):132-9
  26. Liang H, Li X, Shimer AL, Balian G, Shen FH*. A novel strategy of spine defect repair with a degradable bioactive scaffold preloaded with adipose-derived stromal cells. Spine J. 2014; 14(3):445-54
  27. Liu Q, Jin L, Shen FH, Balian G, Li X*. Fullerol nanoparticles suppress inflammatory response and adipogenesis of vertebral bone marrow stromal cells-A novel treatment for intervertebral disc degeneration. Spine J. 2013;13(11):1571-80.
  28. Liu Q, Jin L, Mahon BH, Chordia MD, Shen FH, Li X*. A novel treatment of neuroinflammation against low back pain by soluble Fullerol nanoparticles. Spine. 2013;38(17):1443-51.
  29. Yang XL, Shang HL, Katz A, Li X*. GDF-5 mediated chondrogeneiss in microsphere culture. Biores Open Access. 2013;2(4):258-65
  30. Shen FH*, Werner BC, Liang H, Shang H, Yang N, Li X, Shimer AL, Balian G, Katz AJ. Implications of adipose-derived stromal cells in a 3D culture system for osteogenic differentiation: an in vitro and in vivo investigation. Spine J. 2013;13(1)32-43 2013 Outstanding Paper Runner up
  31. Jin L, Feng G, Reames DL, Li X*. The effect of simulated microgravity on intervertebral disc degeneration. Spine J. 2013; 13(3):235-42.
  32. Zhang D, Jin L, Shen FH, Li X*. The effect of ApoE on intervertebral disc. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, J Orthop Res. 2013;31(2):210-7
  33. Jin L, Wan Y, Shen FH, Li X*. Intervertebral Disc-Like Biphasic Scaffold – DBM Cylinder and PPCLM – for Interbody Spine Fusion. Journal of Tissue Engineering. 2012;3(1):2041731412454420
  34. Kapur SK, Wang X, Shang H, Yun S, Li X, Feng G, Khurgel M, Katz AJ*. Human adipose stem cells maintain proliferative, synthetic and multipotential properties when suspension cultured as self-assembling spheroids. Biofabrication 2012;4(2):025004
  35. Liu HJ, Yang XL, Zhang Yi, Dighe A, Li X, Cui Q*. Fullerol antagonizes dexamethasone-induced oxidative stress and adipogenesis while enhancing osteogenesis in a cloned bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 2012; 30(7):1051-7
  36. Yang XL, Wang DD, Hao JR, Gong MQ, Arlet V, Balian G, Shen FH, Li X*. Enhancement of matrix production and cell proliferation in human annulus cells under bioreactor culture. Tissue Engineering Part A, 2011; 17(11-12):1595-603
  37. Liang H, Wang K, Shimer AL, Li X, Balian G, Shen FH*. Use of a bioactive scaffold for the repair of bone defects in a novel reproducible vertebral body defect model. Bone. 2010; 47(2):197-204
  38. Yang X, Wan Y, Qiao X, Arlet V, Li X*. Transcriptional alteration of matrix-related gene expression in cultured human disc cells by nanoparticles of a bis-methanophosphonate fullerene. Cell Biol Int. 2010; 34(8):837-44.
  39. Deng M, Nair LS, Nukavarapu SP, Jiang T, Kanner WA, Li X, Kumbar SG, Weikel AL, Krogman NR, Allcock HR, Laurencin CT*. Dipeptide-based polyphosphazene and polyester blends for bone tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 2010; 31(18):4898-90
  40. Gong M, Zhang D, Wan Y, Edmondson B, Cui Q, Li X*. Engineered Synovial Joint Condyle using Demineralized Bone Matrix. Material Science and Engineering C. 2010; 30: 531-536
  41. Feng G, Yang X, Shang H, Ian Marks, Shen FH, Katz A, Arlet V, Laurencin CT, Li X*. Multipotential differentiation of human annulus fibrosus cells – an in vitro study. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2010; 92(3):675-85
  42. Liang H, Shen-Ying Ma, Feng G, Shen FH, Li X*. In vivo study of adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of Growth and Differentiation Factor-5 to treat disc degeneration induced by annulus needle-puncture. Spine Journal, 2010; 10(1):32-41. 2009 Outstanding Paper Runner up
  43. Yang P, Wang C, Shi Z, Huang X, Dang X, Li X, Lin S-F, Wang K*. rhVEGF165 Delivered in a Porous β-Tricalcium Phosphate Scaffold Accelerate Bridging of Critical-Sized Defects in Rabbit Radii. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research: Part A, 2010; 92(2):626-40
  44. Feng G, Wan Y, Shen FH, Li X*. Nucleus Pulposus Explant Culture Model. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 2009; 27(6):814-9.
  45. Feng G, Wan Y, Balian G, Laurencin CT, Li X*. Adenovirus-Mediated Expression of Growth and Differentiation Factor-5 Promotes Chondrogenesis of Adipose Stem Cells. Growth Factors. 2008; 26(3):132-42
  46. Wan Y, Feng G, Shen FH, Laurencin CT, Li X*. Biphasic Scaffold for Annulus Fibrosus Tissue Regeneration. Biomaterials. 2008; 29(6):643-52.
  47. Cui M, Wan Y, Anderson DG, Shen FH, Leo BM, Laurencin CT, Balian G, Li X*. GDF-5 Protein and DNA Therapy Potentiates Intervertebral Disc Cell Aggregation and Chondrogenic Gene Expression. Spine Journal, 2008; 8(2):287-95. (Outstanding Paper Award)
  48. Zeng Q, Li X, Choi L, Beck G. Balian G, Shen FH*. Stimulation of osteogenic differentiation in fat-derived stromal cells in vitro using recombinant growth and differentiation factor-5 (GDF-5) and BMP-2 with different regulatory mechanisms. Bone. 2007; 40(2):374-381.
  49. Wan Y, Feng G, Shen FH, Balian G, Laurencin CT, Li X*. Novel Biodegradable Poly (1, 8-diol malate (POM) for Annulus Fibrosus Regeneration. Macromolecular Bioscience.2007; 7(11):1217-24.
  50. Zeng Q, Li X, Choi L, Beck G. Balian G, Shen FH*. Recombinant growth/differentiation factor-5 (GDF-5) stimulates osteogenic differentiation of fat-derived stromal cells in vitro. Connective Tissue Research, 2006; 47(5):264-70
  51. Shen FH*, Zeng Q, Lv Q, Choi L, Balian G. Li X, Laurencin CT. Osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stromal cells treated with GDF-5 cultured on a novel three-dimensional sintered microsphere matrix. Spine Journal, 2006; 6(6):615-23 (Outstanding Paper Award)
  52. Cui Q*, Xiao Z, Li X, Saleh K, Balian G. Use of genetically engineered bone-marrow stem cells to treat femoral defects: an experimental study. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 2006; 88(Suppl 3):167-72
  53. Li X*, Jin L, Balian G, Laurencin CT, Anderson DG. Demineralized Bone Matrix Gelatin as Scaffold for Osteochondral Tissue Engineering. Biomaterials, 2006; 27(11):2426-33
  54. Li X*, Lee JP, Balian G, Anderson DG. Modulation of Chondrocytic Properties of Fat-derived Mesenchymal Cells in co-cultures with Nucleus Pulposus. Connective Tissue Research, 2005; 42 (2):1-6
  55. Anderson DG*, Li X, Balian G. A Fibronectin Fragment Alters the Metabolism by Intervertebral Disc Cells in vitro. Spine, 2005; 30(11):1242-1246
  56. Li X*, Jin L, Cui Q, Wang G-J, Balian G: Steroid effects on osteogenesis through mesenchymal cell gene expression. Osteoporosis International, 2004; 16: 101-108
  57. Li X*, Leo BM, Beck G, Balian G, Anderson DG. Collagen and proteoglycan abnormalities in GDF-5 deficient mice may be corrected by treating disc cells with recombinant growth factor. Spine, 2004; 29(20):2229-2234
  58. Leo BM, Li X, Balian G, Anderson DG*. In vivo bioluminescent imaging of virus mediated gene transfer and transduced cell transplantation in the intervertebral disc. Spine, 2004; 29(8): 838-844
  59. Li X*, Cui Q, Wang GJ, Balian G: Lovastatin Inhibits Adipogenic and Stimulates Osteogenic Differentiation by Suppressing PPARc2 and Increasing Cbfa1/Runx2 Expression in Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Cell Culture. Bone, 2003; 33(4): 652-659
  60. Anderson DG*, Li X, Tannoury T, Beck G, Balian G: A Fibronectin Fragment Stimulates Intervertebral Disc Degeneration in vivo. Spine, 2003; 28(20): 2338-2345


  1. Jin L, Balian G, Li X*. Current Animal Models for Disc Degeneration- An Update. Histology and Histopathology, 2017 Jun 5:11910.
  2. Li X, Jin L, Hassanzadeh H*, Shen FH. State of the art and future of stem cells in spine. Seminars in Spine Surgery, 2015;27(2):93-102
  3. Li X*, Jin L, Shen FH: Tissue engineering of the intervertebral disk. Orthopaedic Knowledge Online Journal 2014;12(5)
  4. Werner BC, Li X, Shen FH*. Stem cells in preclinical spine studies. Spine J. 2014;14(3):542-51.
  5. Jin L, Shimer AL, Li X*. The Challenge and Advancement of Annulus Fibrosus Tissue Engineering. Eur Spine J. 2013;22(5):1090-100
  6. Jin L, Li X*. Growth and Differentiation Factor 5 in Bone Regeneration. Current Pharmacology Design. Curr Pharm Des. 2013;19(19):3364-73
  7. Yang X*, Li X. Nucleus pulposus tissue engineering: state of the art. European Spine Journal. 2009; 18(11):1564-72.
  8. Kofron MD, Li X, Laurencin CT*. Protein and gene-based tissue engineering in bone repair. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 2004; 15(5):399-405



  1. Zhao M, Chen Z, Liu K, Wan YQ, Li X, Luo XW, Bai YG, Yang ZL, Feng G*. Repair of articular cartilage defects in rabbits through tissue-engineered cartilage constructed with chitosan hydrogel and chondrocytes. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2015;16(11):914-23.
  2. Li X*, Wang K, Chen, J, et al: Significance of nitric oxide on the pathogenesis of steroid-induced femoral head necrosis. Chinese Journal of Traumatology, 2000; 3(1):62-63
  3. Li X*, Wang K, Yan H, Chen J: Abnormal expression of HLA-DR antibody in affected synovium from Perthes The Orthopedic Journal of China, 1999; 12(6):912-913
  4. Li X*, Wang K, Chen J: Biochemistry studies on proteoglycan content in affected cartilage and hyaluronic acid levels in serum and synovial fluid of Perthes Journal of Chinese Pediatric Surgery, 1999; 20(3):159-161
  5. Li X*, Wang K, Li Y: Abnormal expression of HLA-DR antibody in affected synovium from steroid-induced femoral head necrosis. Journal of Xi’an Med Univ, 1999; 20(1):68-70
  6. Li X*, Wang K, Chen J: Increased level of nitric oxide in the serum of steroid-induced femoral head necrosis. Journal of Xi’an Med Univ (Eng), 1999;11(1):78-81
  7. Li X*, Wang K, Chen J: Biochemistry studies on proteoglycan content in affected cartilage, hyaluronic acid levels in serum and synovial fluid of Perthes disease. Journal of Xi’an Med Univ (Eng.), 1998; 10(1):181-185
  8. Wang K*, Li X, Dang X: Reconstruction of Shank and Foot Soft Tissue Damage and Defects with Tibia Anterior Pedicled Flap. Journal of Xi’an Med Univ, 1996; 19(2): 125-126
  9. Wang K*, Wang C, Yang W, Li X, Yang X: Experimental study on free vascularized fibular grafting in revascularzing femoral head. Journal of Xi’an Med Univ (Eng.), 1996; 8(2):123-128
  10. Li X*, Yang Q. Pathogenesis and surgical treatment for syringomyelia. Journal of Shanxi Med, 1996; 25(3): 221-223
  11. Li X*, Yang Q. The mechanism of hypothermia celebraoprotective effect on brain ischemia. Journal of Shaanxi Med, 1996; 25(2):104-108


  1. Jin L, Ding M, Aghdasi B, Xiao L, Balian G, Shen FH, Li X*. A novel mouse model of lumbar radiculopathy associated with far-lateral disc herniation. European Spine Journal, revision under review.
  2. Li X, Lenke L*, Jin L, Tuchman A, Tan L, Lehman R. Cerpa M. Surgeon specific risk stratification model for early complications following complex adult spinal deformity surgery. Spinal Deformity, Revision under review.
  3. Xiao L, Majumdar R, Dai J, Li Y, Xie L, Shen FH, Jin L, Li X*. Molecular detection and assessment of intervertebral disc degeneration via a collagen hybridizing peptide. ACS Biomater Sci Eng. Revision under review.