Li, Fenfang

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

Li, Fenfang


Institute of Biomedical Engineering

Junior Principal Investigator

Home page of research group:


  • 2021 - Present

    Shenzhen Bay Laboratory         Junior Principal Investigator

  • 2019 - 2021

    Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (a joint medical school by Imperial College London and Nanyang Technological University)         Dean's Postdoc Fellow

  • 2015 - 2019

    Duke University         Postdoc Associate

  • 2010 - 2015

    Nanyang Technological University Singapore         PhD in Physics and Applied Physics

  • 2006 - 2010

    Wuhan University         Bachelor in Material Physics

Research Areas

The Li Lab focuses on the fluid dynamics, bioeffects and mechanotransduction induced by biomedical ultrasound and cavitation, understanding which is crucial for developing new strategies for ultrasound modulation of tumor and nervous systems. Besides, we also investigate the mechanical properties of single cells in microfluidic devices for early detection of the invasiveness of cancer cells and for drug screening.


Cavitation is an important mechanism for therapeutic ultrasound. However, it is difficult to control cavitation and the underlying physical and biological effects remain elusive. Dr. Fenfang Li have conducted systematic research on key questions such as the fluid dynamics and biological effects of cavitation microbubbles at the cellular and molecular levels. Her main achievements include:

(1) Uncovered the mechanisms of stretching and damaging on cells by strong cavitation bubble from the perspective of biophysics.

(2) Obtained highly controlled bubble - cell interaction in the sublethal range, and identified two distinct types of  intracellular calcium waves: a fast response correlating with significant membrane poration, and a slow response triggered by calcium influx through stretch-activated ion channels.

(3) Provided a new strategy to elicit intracellular calcium signaling without cell injury under mild cavitation conditions by displacing integrin binding beads on the cell membrane. And further revealed the key mechanosensitive molecular players involved.

Besides, achieved high-throughput and label-free measurement of the mechanical properties of cancer cells, and correlated with their phenotypes and genetics by using the transient fast flow generated by single cell hydrodynamic stretching or the microsieve.

These studies provide scientific understandings and new insights for cutting-edge applications such as the controlled release of drugs by sonoporation, ultrasound neuromodulation, and early detection of the progress of invasiveness of cancer cells.

Fenfang's work has been published in high impact journals such as PNAS, Theranostics, Biophysical Journal, and Physical Review Fluid. They have been positively cited by top journals such as Nature, PNAS, Theranostics, Advanced Science, Journal of Controlled Release, and have been reported by several scientific news outlet including The Medical News, EurekAlert, Scitech Daily, Phys.orgetc. Fenfang was also invited as the session chair of 10th International symposium on cavitation, which is the world's leading event committed to cavitation study. Fenfang had received 450,000 RMB of grants on sonogenetics while she was Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine Dean’s Postdoc Fellow in Singapore. It is a joint program by imperial college London and Nanyang Technological University Singapore with only one awardee each year.

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• 2018    Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine Dean’s Postdoc Fellowship

• 2012    Best poster award at the workshop “Microfluidics for biomedical application with the University of Tokyo”  

• 2010 - 2014    PhD Research Scholarship, Nanyang Technological University


Related News

1. A Safer Route to Ultrasonic Therapy(Microbeads allow ultrasonic waves to stimulate cells more safely)


2. Researchers discover way to enhance effectiveness and safety of sonogenetics 

3. Duke University Enhances the Effectiveness and Safety of Sonogenetics 

4. Microbeads allow ultrasonic waves to stimulate cells more safely

Selected Publications

(1) Fenfang Li; Chen Yang; Fang Yuan; Defei Liao; Thomas Li; Farshid Guilak; Pei Zhong*; Dynamics and mechanisms of intracellular calcium waves elicited by tandem bubble induced jetting flow, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018, 115(3): E353-E362.

(2) Fenfang Li*; Tae Hyun Park; George Sankin; Christopher Cilchrist; Defei Liao; Chon U Chan; Zheng Mao; Brenton D. Hoffman*; Pei Zhong*; Mechanically induced integrin ligation mediates intracellular calcium signaling with single pulsating cavitation bubbles, Theranostics, 2021, 11(12): 6090-6104.

(3) Fenfang Li*; Igor Cima; Jess Honganh Vo; Min-Han Tan; Claus Dieter Ohl*; Single cell hydrodynamic stretching and microsieve filtration reveal genetic, phenotypic and treatment-related links to cellular deformability, Micromachines, 2020, 11(5): 486.

(4) Defei Liao, Fenfang Li, David Lu, Pei Zhong*; Activation of Piezo1 mechanosensitive ion channel in HEK293T cells by 30 MHz vertically deployed surface acoustic waves, Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 2019, 518 (3), 541-547

(5) Fenfang Li, Chon U Chan, Claus Dieter Ohl*; Yield strength of human erythrocyte membranes to impulsive stretching, Biophysical journal, 2013, 105 (4), 872-879