Li Lily Wang, PhD

Assistant Professor
Microbiology and Molecular Genetics & Cancer Center
Medical College of Wisconsin

Research Focus: Immune regulation mediated by negative checkpoint regulators; Cancer immunotherapy

PhD: Dartmouth Medical School (2003) Biochemistry

Wang Laboratory

Research in the Wang lab focuses on immune regulation mediated by the immune-checkpoint proteins, such as VISTA. We apply preclinical tumor models to investigate the mechanisms whereby VISTA controls the anti-tumor immunity, and design innovative immunotherapeutic strategies for cancer treatment.


Figure 1 B7 Family co-signaling molecules regulate T cell responses

Figure 1. The B7 family co-signaling molecules regulate T cell responses.  The co-inhibitory molecules, such as CTLA-4, PD-1, and VISTA are also called "immune-checkpoints".  They play critical role in maintaining T cell peripheral tolerance and controlling autoimmunity.



Figure 2 Research in Wang lab addresses the immune-regulatory for of VISTA

Figure 2. Research in the Wang lab addresses the immune-regulatory role of a novel immune-checkpoint molecule, called V-domain Immunoglobulin Suppression of T cell Activation (VISTA). VISTA is expressed on multiple immune cell types, and suppresses the anti-tumor immunity.



Figure 3. VISTA-blocking monoclonal antibody effectively enhances tumor-reactive T cell response, and can synergize with cancer vaccine to eradicate tumor cells.


Current Funding

  • 1R01CA164225   Wang (PI)   07/2012 - 06/2017
    Agency: NIH/NCI
    Title: VISTA, a novel checkpoint that suppresses anti-tumor T cell responses
    The goals are to define the molecular and cellular mechanisms of VISTA-mediated immune supression in cancer.
  • CA130351   Wang (PI)   07/2014 - 06/2016
    Agency: Department of Defense, Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP)
    Title: VISTA Blockade Synergizes with TLR-Agonist-Based Vaccine for Melanoma Prevention and Therapy
    The goals are to optimize a combinatorial therapeutic platform for melanoma and determine the mechanisms of synergistic efficacy.
  • 1R01ES024745   Havrda (PI)   Wang (co-PI)   07/2015 – 06/2020
    Agency: NIEHS
    Title: Mechanisms of rotenone-induced neuro-inflammation and Parkinsonism in aging mice
    The goal of this project is to evaluate the role of astrocytes in mediating pro-inflammatory changes resulting from ingestion of rotenone in mice.
  • CA198719   Spaller (PI)   Wang (co-PI)   04/2016 – 03/2018
    Agency: NIH
    Title: Discovery of Modulators for the Immune Checkpoint Regulatory Protein VISTA


Literature for Cancer Immunotherapy

Recent Publications


Contact Information

Li Lily Wang, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226

(414) 955-7489

Office  BSB-204 (Basic Science Building)
Lab  BSB-215 (Basic Science Building)


Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-8296
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Page Updated 01/28/2016