OU College of Medicine Researcher Named President-Elect of American Pancreatic Association

OU College of Medicine Researcher Named President-Elect of American Pancreatic Association

Min Li, Ph.D., George Lynn Cross Research Professor of Medicine, Surgery and Cell Biology in the OU College of Medicine, has been designated president-elect of the American Pancreatic Association. He will begin serving as president in November 2022.

The American Pancreatic Association (APA) is the largest professional organization for physicians and researchers specializing in pancreatic diseases. Recognizing that progress in understanding, diagnosing and treating pancreatic diseases requires multidisciplinary analysis, the APA encompasses multiple disciplines, including surgery, medical oncology, gastroenterology, radiation oncology, pathology, and basic science research. The APA also works closely with non-profit organizations to raise funding for pancreatic cancer research.

“Serving as president-elect of the APA is a big honor for me, and it is a recognition of our work on pancreatic cancer research,” Li said. “I am thrilled to join the APA leadership and serve this amazing organization to help people suffering from devastating diseases. My goal is to work with other leaders in the field to raise more awareness for pancreatic cancer research and treatment nationwide, and to expand the APA family. Our mission is to foster clinical and basic science research needed to cure diseases of the pancreas and to train the next generation of pancreatologists.”

At the OU College of Medicine, Li has earned a significant amount of federal funding for his research on pancreatic cancer and continues to advance the field with his investigations. He has published articles for several consecutive years in the journal Gastroenterology, the world’s leading journal on GI tract disease.

His latest publications have focused on the protein ZIP4, which transports zinc throughout the body. Each study has focused on a different role for ZIP4, which serves as a “master switch” for several things to occur in pancreatic cancer. In one publication, his lab discovered that ZIP4 plays a role in the onset of cachexia, a muscle-wasting condition that affects at least 80% of people with pancreatic cancer. The next publication focused on how the overexpression of ZIP4 causes pancreatic cancer cells to be more resistant to chemotherapy. In the most recent study, his lab found that when ZIP4 is overexpressed in patients with pancreatic cancer, it essentially prompts the tumor cells to transform themselves in a manner that allows them to stealthily travel to the body’s other organs.