Lili Yang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Terasaki Life Sciences Building (TLSB), 3032


  • Associate Professor, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
  • Member, Eli & Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research (BSCRC)
  • Member, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC)
  • Member, Molecular Biology Institute (MBI)
  • Member, Inflammation, Immunity, Infection & Transplantation Theme (I3T)
  • Member, GPB Home Area Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis (IMMP)

Research Interests
Our research centers on deciphering the molecular mechanisms controlling antitumor immunity, and exploiting knowledge to device new gene- and cell-based cancer immunotherapies.

We have two active research directions:

  1. Studying the molecular control of antitumor immunity.
  2. Developing new gene- and cell-based immunotherapies for treating cancer.

For details, please visit our lab website:


Dr. Lili Yang is currently an Associate Professor at UCLA. She received her B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Science & Technology of China (USTC) in 1997, her M.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in 1999, and her Ph.D. degree in Biology from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2004. She obtained her Ph.D. training at the Laboratory of David Baltimore. Post graduation, she stayed at Caltech and led a multi-institutional Engineering Immunity Program from 2004 to 2012, developing gene- and cell-based immunotherapies for cancer and HIV/AIDS. She joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an Assistant Professor in 2013. Her laboratory at UCLA studies tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy, with a special focus on stem cell-based and gene-engineered immunotherapy for cancer. Her work has resulted in over 35 peer-reviewed publications (in prestigious journals including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Cell Stem Cell, PNAS, J Exp Med, J Clin Invest, Blood, etc.), 15 patents, 2 clinical trials, and 2 biotech startups.

In recognition of her scientific achievements, Dr. Lili Yang has received multiple prestigious awards, including the TR35 (Innovators Under 35) Award from the MIT Technology Review Magazine , the Forbeck Scholar Award, the Director’s New Innovator Award from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Translational Research Project Award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the Young Investigator Award from the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), and the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT).


 Complete publication list:

Selected publications:

Di Biase S*, Ma X*, Wang X, Yu J, Wang Y-C, Smith DJ, Zhou Y, Li Z, Kim YJ, Clarke N, To A, and Yang L. (Co-first authors). Creatine uptake regulates CD8 T cell antitumor immunity. J Exp Med. 2019, 216(12): 2869-2882. Epub 2019 Oct 18. [Link][PDF]

Zhu Y.*, Smith DJ*, Zhou Y, Li YR, Yu J, Lee D, Wang Y-C, Di Biase S, Wang Xi, Hardoy C, Ku J, Tsao T, Lin LJ, Pham AT, Moon H, McLaughlin J, Cheng D, Hollis RP, Campo-Fernandez B, Urbinati F, Wei L, Pang L, Rezek V, Berent-Maoz B, Macabali MH, Gjertson D, Wang X, Galic Z, Kitchen SG, An DS, Hu-Lieskovan S, Kaplan-Lefko PJ, De Oliveira SN, Seet CS, Larson SM, Forman SJ, Heath JR, Zack JA, Crooks GM, Radu GR, Ribas A, Kohn DB, Witte ON, and Yang L. (Co-first authors). Development of hematopoietic stem cell-engineered invariant natural killer T cell therapy for cancer. Cell Stem Cell. 2019, 25(4):542-557. Epub 2019  Sept 5. [Link][PDF][CSC Highlight]

Puig-Saus C, Parisi G, Garcia-Diaz A, Krystofinski PE, Sandoval S, Zhang R, Champhekar AS, McCabe J, Cheung-Lau GC, Truong NA, Vega-Crespo A, Komenan MDS, Pang J, Macabali MH, Saco JD, Goodwin JL, Bolon B, Seet CS, Montel-Hagen A, Crooks GM, Hollis RP, Campo-Fernandez B, Bischof D, Cornetta K, Gschweng EH, Adelson C, Nguyen A, Yang L, Witte ON, Baltimore D, Comin-Anduix B, Kohn DB, Wang X, Cabrera P, Kaplan-Lefko PJ, Berent-Maoz B, and Ribas A. IND-enabling studies for a clinical trial to genetically program a persistent cancer-targeted immune system. Clin Cancer Res. 2019, 25(3):1000-1011. [Link][PDF]

Bethune MT§, Li XH§, Yu J§, McLaughlin J, Cheng D, Mathis C, Moreno BH, Woods K, Knights AJ, Garcia-Diaz A, Wong S, Hu-Lieskovan S, Saus CP, Cebon J, Ribas A, Yang L*, Witte ON*, and Baltimore D*. (§Co-first authors) (*Co-corresponding authors). Isolation and characterization of NY-ESO-1-specific T cell receptors restricted on various MHC molecules. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2018, 115(45): E107002-E10711. [Link][PDF]

Siegler EL, Zhu Y, Wang P*, and Yang L*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Off-the-shelf  CAR-NK cells for cancer immunotherapy. Cell Stem Cell. 2018, 23(8):160-161. [Link][PDF]

Nowicki TS, Escuin-Ordinas H, Avramis E, Chmielowski B, Chodon T, Berent-Maoz B, Wang X, Kaplan-Lefko P, Yang L, Baltimore D, Economou JS, Ribas A, and Comin-Anduix B. Characterization of postinfusion phenotypic differences in fresh versus cryopreserved TCR engineered adoptive cell therapy products. J Immunother. 2018, 41(5):248-259. [Link][PDF]

Li B*, Wang X*, Choi I, Liu S, Pham A, Moon H, Rao DS, Boldin MP, and Yang L. (Co-first authors). miR-146a modulates autoreactive CD4 T cell Th17 differentiation and regulates T cell-mediated autoimmunity. J Clin Invest. 2017, 127(10):3702-3716. [Link][PDF]

Kim JT, Liu Y, Kulkarni RP, Lee KK, Dai BB, Lovely G, Ouyang Y, Wang P, Yang L, and Baltimore D. Dendritic cell-targeted lentiviral vector immunization uses pseudotransduction and DNA-mediated STING and cGAS activation. Sci Immunol. 2017, 2:eaal1329. [Link][PDF]

Smith DJ, Lin LJ, Moon H, Pham AT, Wang X, Liu S, Ji S, Rezek V, Shimizu S, Ruiz M, Lam J, Janzen DM, Memarzadeh S, Kohn DB, Zack JA, Kitchen SG, An DS, and Yang L. Propagating humanized BLT mice for the study of human immunology and immunotherapy. Stem Cells Dev. 2016, 25(24):1863-1873. [Link][PDF]

Smith DJ, Liu S, Ji S, Li B, McLaughlin J, Cheng D, Witte ON, and Yang L. Genetic Engineering of hematopoietic stem cells to generate invariant natural killer T cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2015, 112(5):1523-28. [Link][PDF]

Chodon T, Comin-Anduix B, Chmielowski B, Koya RC, Wu Z, Auerbach M, Ng C, Avramis E, Seja E, Villanueva A, McCannel TA, Ishiyama A, Czernin J, Radu CG, Wang X, Gjertson DW, Cochran AJ, Cornetta K, Wong DJL, Kaplan-Lefko P, Hamid O, Samlowski W, Cohen PA, Daniels GA, Mukherji B, Yang L, Zack JA, Kohn DB, Heath JR, Glaspy JA, Witte ON, Baltimore D, Economou JS, and Ribas A. Adoptive transfer of MART-1 T-cell receptor transgenic lymphocytes and dendritic cell vaccination in patients with metastatic melanoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2014, 20(9): 2457-65. [Link][PDF]

Yang L* and Wang P. (*Corresponding author). Passive immunization against HIV/AIDS by antibody gene transfer. Viruses. 2014, 6(2): 428-47. [Link][PDF]

Hur EM, Patel SN, Shimizu S, Rao D, Gnanapragasam PNP, An DS, Yang L*, and Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Inhibitory effect of HIV-specific neutralizing IgA on mucosal transmission of HIV in humanized mice. Blood. 2012, 120(23): 4571-82. [Link][PDF]

Yang L*, Boldin MP, Yu Y, Liu CS, Ea CK, Taganov KD, Zhao JL, and Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). miR-146a controls the resolution of T cell responses in mice. J Exp Med. 2012, 209(9): 1655-70. [Link][PDF]

Yu KK, Aguilar K, Tsai J, Galimidi R, Gnanapragasam P, Yang L, and Baltimore D. Use of  mutated self-cleaving 2A peptides as a molecular rheostat to direct simultaneous formation of membrane and secreted anti-HIV immunoglobulins. PLoS One. 2012, 7(11):e50438. [Link][PDF]

Xiao L, Kim J, Lim M, Dai B, Yang L, Reed S, Baltimore D, and Wang P. A TLR4 agonist synergizes with dendritic cell-directed lentiviral vectors for inducing antigen-specific immune responses. Vaccine. 2012, 30(15): 2570-81. [Link][PDF]

Balazs AB, Chen J, Hong CM, Rao DS, Yang L, and Baltimore D. Antibody-based protection against HIV infection by vectored immunoprophylaxis. Nature. 2011, 481(7379): 81-4. [Link][PDF]

Yang L*, Yu Y, Kalwani M, Tseng TW, and Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Homeostatic cytokines orchestrate the segregation of CD4 and CD8 memory T-cell reservoirs in mice. Blood. 2011, 118(11): 3039-50. [Link][PDF]

Boldin MP, Taganov KD, Rao DS, Yang L, Zhao JL, Kalwani M, Garcia-Flores Y, Luong M, Devrekanli A, Xu J, Sun G, Tay J, Linsley PS, Baltimore D. miR-146a is a significant brake on autoimmunity, myeloproliferation, and cancer in mice. J Exp Med. 2011, 208(6): 1189-201. [Link][PDF]

Luo XM, Lei MY, Feidi RA, West AP Jr, Balazs AB, Bjorkman PJ, Yang L*, Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Dimeric 2G12 as a potent protection against HIV-1. PLoS Pathog. 2010, 6(12): e1001225. [Link][PDF]

O’Connell RM, Balazs AB, Rao DS, Kivork C, Yang L*, and Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Lentiviral vector delivery of human interleukin-7 (hIL-7) to human immune system (HIS) mice expands T lymphocyte populations. PLoS One. 2010, 5(8): e12009. [Link][PDF]

Baltimore D, Witte ON, Yang L, Economou J, and Ribas A. Overcoming barriers to programming a therapeutic cellular immune response to fight melanoma. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010, 23(2): 288-9. [Link][PDF]

Dai B, Yang L, Yang H, Hu B, Baltimore D, and Wang P. HIV-1 Gag-specific immunity induced by a lentivector-based vaccine directed to dendritic cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009, 106(48): 20382-7. [Link][PDF]

Luo XM, Maarschalk E, O’Connell RM, Wang P, Yang L*, and Baltimore D*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Engineering human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells to produce a broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibody after in vitro maturation to human B lymphocytes. Blood. 2009, 113(7): 1422-31. [Link][PDF]

Ziegler L, Yang L, Joo Ki, Yang H, Baltimore D, and Wang P. Targeting lentiviral vectors to antigen-specific immunoglobulins. Hum Gene Ther. 2008, 19(9): 861-72. [Link][PDF]

Chhabra A, Yang L, Wang P, Comin-Anduix B, Das R, Chakraborty NG, Ray S,   Mehrotra S, Yang H, Hardee CL, Hollis R, Dorsky DI, Koya R, Kohn DB, Ribas A,   Economou JS, Baltimore D, and Mukherji B. CD4+CD25- T cells transduced to express MHC class I-restricted epitope-specific TCR synthesize Th1 cytokines and exhibit MHC class I-restricted cytolytic effector function in a human melanoma model. J Immunol. 2008, 181(2): 1063-70. [Link][PDF]

Yang L*, Yang H*, Rideout K, Cho T, Joo KI, Ziegler L, Elliot A, Walls A, Yu D, Baltimore D**, and Wang P**. (*Co-first authors). (**Co-corresponding authors). Engineered lentivector targeting of dendritic cells for in vivo immunization. Nat Biotechnol. 2008, 26(3): 326-34. [Link][PDF]

Yang L, Bailey L, Baltimore D*, and Wang P*. (*Co-corresponding authors). Targeting lentiviral vectors to specific cell types in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2006, 103(31): 11479-84. [Link][PDF]

Yang L and Baltimore D. Long-term in vivo provision of antigen-specific T cell immunity by programming hematopoietic stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005, 102(12): 4518-23-34. [Link][PDF]

Bridges R, Rigero B, Byrnes E, Yang L, and Walker A. Central infusions of the recombinant human prolactin receptor antagonist, S179D-PRL, delay the onset of maternal behavior in steroid-primed, nulliparous female rats. Endocrinology. 2001, 142(2): 730-9. [Link][PDF]

Yang L, Kuo CB, Liu Y, Coss D, Xu X, Chen C, Oster-Granite ML, and Walker AM. Administration of unmodified prolactin (U-PRL) and a molecular mimic of phosphorylated prolactin (PP-PRL) during rat pregnancy provides evidence that the U-PRL:PP-PRL ratio is crucial to the normal development of pup tissues. J Endocrinol. 2001, 168(2): 227-38. [Link][PDF]

Coss D, Yang L, Kuo CB, Xu X, Luben RA, and Walker AM. Effects of prolactin on osteoblast alkaline phosphatase and bone formation in the developing rat. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2000, 279(6): E1216-25. [Link][PDF]

Coss D, Kuo CB, Yang L, Ingleton P, Luben R, Walker AM. Dissociation of Janus kinase 2 and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 activation after treatment of Nb2 cells with a molecular mimic of phosphorylated prolactin. Endocrinology. 1999, 140(11): 5087-94. [Link][PDF]