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UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Professor Named Fellow at Radcliffe Institute

Dr. Jingyi (Jessica) Li, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health associate professor of biostatistics, has been named a fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Dr. Jingyi (Jessica) Li, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health associate professor of biostatistics, is among 50 scholars selected as Radcliffe Institute fellows and will spend the 2022-23 academic year on sabbatical at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute.

An interdisciplinary expert in statistics and genomics affiliated with UCLA’s bioinformatics doctoral program, Li will write the first book to clarify common confusions in genomics data analysis by connecting cutting-edge genomics research questions with fundamental statistical and machine-learning methods. She expects her research to provide quantitative genomics researchers with clear guidelines to follow as they develop new bioinformatics tools.

In addition, Li was recently awarded a research grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support her research project, titled, “Enhancing Rigor and Reliability of Single-Cell Data Science.”

“I feel so grateful to the interdisciplinary environment at UCLA and the support I received from my colleagues and students in the departments of statistics, biostatistics, computational medicine, and human genetics, as well as the interdepartmental bioinformatics PhD program," Li said. "I am delighted that my advocation of statistical rigor in single-cell data science is appreciated by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, and I hope that our tools will benefit the single-cell biology community by providing transparent decision criteria and benchmarking standards.”

Her research focuses on developing statistical and computational tools to answer biological and biomedical questions. Her CZI project is “Enhancing Rigor and Reliability of Single-Cell Data Science.” Her team will address the widespread issue of inflated false discovery rates (FDRs) in single-cell data analysis, in particular, the data reuse “double-dipping” issue. Her team will also develop a versatile simulator to generate realistic single-cell multi-omics data and spatial transcriptomics data with ground truths, thus allowing the single-cell community to perform fair and informative benchmarking of computational tools. 

She is the senior author of research published in March about reducing false positives in differential analyses of large RNA sequencing data sets. She is also the corresponding author of a 2021 study providing a new statistical framework to increase the reliability of data-driven biomedical research on biomolecules.

Li was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 in 2021 and will be promoted this year to full professor. Prior to joining UCLA in 2013, Li obtained her Ph.D. degree from the Interdepartmental Group in Biostatistics at University of California, Berkeley, and her B.S. (summa cum laude) from the Department of Biological Sciences and Technology at Tsinghua University, China in 2007.

"Jessica not only has the ability to surmount challenging technical issues that are foundational to statistical inference in bioinformatics, but she also has a great gift for cultivating scientific intuition, and she continually elevates the Department of Biostatistics with the energy she brings as a faculty colleague," said Dr. Thomas Belin, UCLA Fielding School professor and vice chair of the Department of Biostatistics. "This prestigious fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute is extremely well-deserved, and I'm delighted both for the opportunity Jessica will have to advance her work and for the award's recognition of Jessica as a rising star in the field." 

by Stuart Wolpert

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.