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Yun Li

Yun Li, PhD, Professor in the Department of Genetics, is the contact PI on a new five-year, $5-million collaborative U01 from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) for her project titled “Polygenic risk scores and health disparities: the role of blood cells immune response and evolutionary adaption”.

The goal is to leverage existing biomarker data to derive new polygenic risk scores (PRS) to improve prediction of disease across ancestrally diverse populations, particularly focusing on inflammation and hematological measures under selective pressure from differential infectious disease exposures. Development of high quality PRS for common laboratory measures that differ in means and/or variances by ancestry, will enable improved diagnostic accuracy and reduce unnecessary repeat testing and downstream healthcare utilization.

Dr. Li’s U01 award from NHGRI includes funding for researchers from UNC Chapel Hill (Yun Li, PhD, contact PI; Dan Schrider, PhD, Co-I, Assistant Professor of Genetics; Laura Raffield, PhD, Co-I, Assistant Professor of Genetics), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Alex Reiner, MD, PI), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nancy Cox, PhD, PI), Johns Hopkins University (Rasika Mathias, PhD, Co-I; Jeremy Walston, MD, Co-I), University of Washington (Timothy Thornton, PhD, Co-I; Nathan Stitziel, MD, PhD, Co-I), and the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (Paul Auer, PhD, Co-I).

Dr. Li’s U01 is one of 6 awards funded by NIH to form a new consortium that will develop methods to improve the way that PRS can be used to predict disease in diverse communities. The NIH press release for the new PRS Consortium can be found here: