Gao M.D., Ph.D, Li  


The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Department of Medicine

Division of Allergy & Clinical Immunology

Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center

5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle, Rm. 3A.12A

Baltimore, MD 21224-6801

Tel:  410-550-2021

Fax:  410-550-2130



Li Gao, M.D., Ph.D. is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She joined the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of the Department of Medicine in 2005 after completing the NIH-supported T32 postdoctoral fellowship training at Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the American Thoracic Society (ATS), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), and the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). In addition she is an Ad Hoc Reviewer for the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Allergy, Clinical and Molecular Allergy, Critical Care Medicine, BMC Medical Genetics, and Genetics in Medicine. She is the recipient of the 2006 Interest Section Award of AAAAI; 2007 Award of the NIH Fifth Symposium on the Functional Genomics of Critical Illness and Injury; and 2010 Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

Research Interests:

Functional genomics, molecular genetics and epigenetics of complex cardiopulmonary and allergic diseases, with a focus on translational research applying fundamental genetic insight into the clinical setting.

Current Research:

1.    Implementation of high-throughput technologies in the fields of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), massively parallel sequencing, gene expression analysis, epigenetic mapping and integrative genomics in ongoing research of complex lung diseases and allergic diseases including asthma, atopic dermatitis (AD), pulmonary arterial hypertension, COPD, sepsis and acute lung injury/ARDS.

2.   Epigenetic Contributions to Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Associated with Systemic Sclerosis. Supported by “Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program in Pulmonary Arterial hypertension” and recently funded R03 (PI, Li Gao), Dr. Gao investigates the epigenetic controls mediated by DNA methylation in regulation of gene transcriptions in pulmonary hypertension. 

3.   Genetic Modifiers in Sepsis and Acute Lung Injury. Over the past few years, Dr. Gao has been working on identifying genes important for determining susceptibility to and worst outcome from complex lung diseases such as sepsis and acute lung injury (ALI) using the state-of-art “-omics” technologies and pathway analysis. A major outcome of Dr. Gao’s research thus far is the identification of variants in myosine light chain kinase (MLCK) gene for sepsis that are also associated with asthma. Utilizing functional genomics in both human and various animal models of ALI, Dr. Gao also identified the macrophage migration inhibitory (MIF) as a relevant molecular target in ALI. Other areas of interest include co-associations between schistosomiasis and asthma.

4.   Studying rare genetic variants identified through next generation sequencing in the NIAID-sponsored ‘Atopic Dermatitis Research Network’.

Selected Publications:

1.  Gao L, Gabriel C, Lavoie T, Ye SQ. An Improved RSP Method to Detect HpaI Polymorphism in the Apolipoprotein C-1 Gene Promoter. BMC Med Genet. 2002 Nov 12;3(1):13.

2.  Bilusic M, Bataillard A, Tschannen MR, Gao L, Barreto NE, Vincent M,  Wang T,  Jacob HJ, Sassard J,  and Kwitek AE. Mapping the Genetic Determinants of the Metabolic Syndrome X in the Lyon Hypertensive (LH) Rat. Hypertension. 2004 Nov;44(5):695-701.

3. Gao L, Grant A, Halder I, Brower R, Sevransky J, Maloney JP, Moss

M, Shanholtz C, Yates CR, Umberto Meduri G, Shriver MD, Ingersoll  

R, Scott AF, Beaty TH, Moitra J, Ma SF, Ye SQ, Barnes KC, Garcia

JG. Novel Polymorphisms in the Myosin Light Chain Kinase Gene

Confer Risk for Acute Lung Injury. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2006

Apr;34(4):487-95. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

4.  Gao L, Grant A, Rafaels N, Stockton-Porter M, Watkins T, Chi P, Gao P, Chi P, Munoz M, Watson H, Dunston G, Togias A, Hansel N, Brower R, Sevransky J, Maloney JP, Moss M, Shanholtz C, Brower R, Garcia JG, Beaty TH, Mathias RA, Barnes KC. Polymorphisms in the myosin light chain kinase gene that confer risk of asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 May;119(5):1111-8.

5.  Gao L, Flores C, Ma SF, Miller EJ, Moitra J, Moreno L, Wadgaonkar R, Simon B, McVerry B, Brower R, Sevransky J, Tuder RM, Maloney JP, Moss M, Shanholtz C, Yates CR, Meduri GU, Ye SQ, Barnes KC and Garcia JG. Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor in Acute Lung Injury: Expression, Biomarker and Associations. Transl Res. 2007 Jul;150(1):18-29.

6. Gao L, Tsai YJ, Grigoryev DN, Barnes KC. Host Defense Genes in Asthma and Sepsis and the Role of the Environment. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Dec;7(6):459-67. Review.

7. DN Grigoryev, SC Mathai, MR Fisher, RE Girgis, AL Zaiman, T Housten-Harris, C Cheadle, L Gao, LK Hummers, HC Champion, JGN Garcia, FM Wigley, RM Tuder, KC Barnes, and PM Hassoun. Identification of candidate genes in scleroderma-related pulmonary arterial hypertension. Transl Res. 2008 Apr;151(4):197-207.

8. Wurfel MM, Gordon AC, Holden TD, Radella F, Strout J, Kajikawa O, Ruzinski JT, Rona G, Black RA, Stratton S, Jarvik GP, Hajjar AM, Nickerson DA, Rieder M, Sevransky J, Maloney JP, Moss M, Martin G, Shanholtz C, Garcia JGN, Gao L, Brower R, Barnes KC, Walley KR, Russell JA, Martin TR. Study of innate immune responses in normal subjects reveals a novel TLR1 polymorphism that confers hyper-responsiveness to bacterial lipoprotein and increased mortality in sepsis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Oct 1;178(7):710-20. Epub 2008 Jul 17.

9. Gao L, Barnes KC. Recent Advances in Genetic Predisposition to Clinical Acute Lung Injury. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2009 May;296(5):L713-25. Epub 2009 Feb 13. Review.

10.Mathias RA, Grant AV, Rafaels N, Hand T, Gao L, Vergara C, Tsai YJ, Yang M, Campbell M, Foster C, Gao P, Togias A, Hansel NN, Diette G, Adkinson NF, Liu MC, Faruque M, Dunston GM, Watson HR, Bracken MB, Hoh J, Maul P, Maul T, Jedlicka AE, Murray T, Hetmanski JB, Ashworth R, Ongaco CM, Hetrick KN, Doheny KF, Pugh EW, Ford J, Eng C, Burchard EG, Sleiman PMA, Hakonarson H, Forno E, Raby BA, Weiss ST, Scott AF, Kabesch M, Liang L, Abecasis G, Moffatt MF, Cookson WOC, Ruczinski I, Beaty TH, Barnes KC.  A genome-wide association study on African-ancestry populations for asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2009 Nov 10.

11.Hansel NN, Sidhaye V, Rafaels NM, Gao L, Gao P, Williams R, et al.       

    Aquaporin 5 polymorphisms and rate of lung function decline in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 3;5(12):e14226.

12.Gao PS, Leung DY, Rafaels NM, Boguniewicz M, Hand T, Gao L, Hata TR, Schneider LC, Hanifin JM, Beaty TH, Beck LA, Weinberg A, Barnes KC. Genetic variants in interferon regulatory factor 2 (IRF2) are associated with atopic dermatitis and eczema herpeticum. J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Mar;132(3 Pt 1):650-7.



Gao, Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Genetic Research Projects Director

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Genetic Research Facility (Director: Dr. Kathleen C. Barnes)

Positions available


Last Updated June 2013