Isaac Li

Assistant Professor

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry
Other Titles: Canada Research Chair (Tier 2)
Office: FIP 343
Phone: 250.807.8069

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Single-molecule biophysics; programmable molecular devices and biosensors; cancer and immune cell biology; cell mechanics and mechanobiology.

Courses & Teaching

Nucleic Acid, Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Instrumentation, Physical Chemistry


Single Molecule Mechano-Biology Lab


Postdoc, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Center for the Physics of Living Cells (Biophysics)
PhD, University of Toronto (Chemistry)
MASc, University of Toronto (Biomedical Engineering)
BASc, University of Toronto (Engineering Science)

Research Interests & Projects

We study biophysics at the single-molecule and single-cell levels. We are particularly interested in developing tools to understand how cells physically interact with each other and environment. The long-term goal of my research program is to gain mechanistic understandings of mechanobiology processes in disease pathology and develop novel biomedical and biophysical methods for disease diagnosis and treatment. Our current research is focused on the following areas:

  1. Mechanobiology at the single-molecule level
  2. DNA-based smart biosensors, molecular machines and biomaterials
  3. Techniques to manipulate individual molecules and cells
  4. Disease screening by extracellular vesicles

Please visit the group’s website for more details.


NSERC Discovery, New Frontiers Research Fund (NFRF), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Emience Fund, Mitacs, UBC, and BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF)

Selected Publications & Presentations

Google Scholar

Selected Grants & Awards

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award

2020 Curricular Innovation Award

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Coordinator for Honours Thesis and Directed Studies in the Department of Chemistry


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