Jiaxu Li

Arizona State University

Department of Mathematics






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Research interests


Glucose-insulin system

Mathematical biology

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Research interests

Dr. Jiaxu Li is interested in studying real life problems possessing great practical impacts, and enjoy the process of exploring relevances and offering solutions to a wide spectrum of real world applications. By utilizing well calibrated theories of ordinary differential equations (ODE), delay differential equations (DDE) and dynamical systems, and his industry-tested computational skills, Dr. Li's current primary research interest is Mathematical Biology and Medicine. In today's integrative and cross-disciplinary research climate, mathematical modeling is quickly evolving from a mainstream area of study into a core and hot domain of scientific activities. Inversely, problems aroused from real life stimulate the evolution and development of mathematics in novel approaches and theories. This has been evidenced by the mutual stimulations between physics and mathematics in past centuries. Life sciences have joined the arena since last several decades.

Most of his current research work has involved the study of the regulations of glucose and insulin regarding to the progression of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus continues to claim a devastating role in society due to its life-threatening complications. Diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputations, and other pathologies. Diabetes affects 25.8 million, or 8.3% of the total population of the United States, and up to 30% may be at risk according to the Fact Sheet of American Diabetes Association (ADA), 2011 (http://www.diabetes.org). This causes huge health care expenses to be 174 billion per year estimated by ADA in 2007. The worldwide population of affected individuals is now over 200 million and growing rapidly. Despite decades of study, the factors controlling the initiation and progression of diabetes remain to be fully elucidated. Without a thorough understanding of the glucose homeostasis system and its dysfunction in diabetes, researchers will continue to struggle to develop new approaches to detect, prevent and/or delay the onset of diabetes. Thus, a lack of basic knowledge and the inability to integrate important but reductionist experimental findings into comprehensive models stands in the way of providing more efficient, effective, and economic therapies. Therefore, there is a pressing need for accurate mathematical models employing the latest experimental findings. His major interests in this area is to investigate how the system works, the pathways to diabetes mellitus, and ultimately to provide more efficient and effective algorithms for the treatments of diabetes mellitus in clinical applications.

Dr. Jiaxu Li's research interest also includes bioinformatics and gene differentiations in small to medium sized gene network by mathematical modeling approach (with Dr. Darling and Dr. Rempala). Pathways of sequentially expressed transcription factors regulate terminal differentiation of cells, including muscle cells, neurons, pancreatic acinar cells, and so on. Cascades of transcription factors regulate, and are regulated by, other transcription factors as well as extracellular signaling factors. In such way, networks are formed with the capacity to control the timing and progression of cell differentiation. Understanding the dynamic behaviors as they change over the time during differentiation is essential. Modeling by differential equation system is an appealing approach since it is more accurate in modeling the functional aspects, provides an understanding of the insights in the nonlinear behaviors, and can reconstruct the network pathways by reverse engineering fashion. Information revealed from such studies provides rational basis for tissue engineering or gene therapies for diseases.

Dr. Li has great interests in other areas of mathematical biology as well, including ecological models, and molecule models in chemical reaction. In addition, he is interested and is ready to utilize his modeling skills in bioengineering, control engineering and semiconductor industry, whenever opportunity arrives.

In earlier days, Dr. Li focused on the qualitative analysis of Lienard's equation.


  • NIH/NIDCR Grant, R01-DE019243, Mathematical Model of Parotid Acinar Cell Differentiation.
    09/2008 -- 06/2013, $1.6 million. Co-Investigator.
    (PI: Douglas S. Darling, University of Louisville, School of Dentistry; Grzegorz A. Rempala, Georgia Health Sciences University.)
  • DOE Grant, DE-EM000197, Extension of Informatics Infrastructure to Support Translational and Basic Research.
    01/01/2010 -- 12/31/2011, $951,000. Co-Investigator.
    (PI: Toledo Kalbfleisch, University of Louisville, School of Medicine; Eric C. Rouchka, Speed School of Engineering.)
  • UofL Intramural Research Incentive Grant - Undergraduate Research, IRIG-50592, Mathematical modeling the regulation of the srfH promoter in Salmonella enteric serovar Typhimurium.
    01/2010 -- 12/2010, $4,000. PI. Student: Amy Gasson.
  • CEGIB Career Development Award, Modeling Biological Systems by Stochastic Differential Equations,
    01/2009--12/2009, $16,000. PI.
    (Career Development Program of the Center for Environmental Genomics and Integrative Biology (CEGIB), University of Louisville, supported by NIH/NIEHS Grant P30ES014443, PI: Kenneth S. Ramos, 05/2006--04/2011)
  • ASU Multi-interdisciplinary Grant, MGIA-200608, Towards an Integrative Study of Pathways to Diabetes Mellitus,
    01/2006 - 12/2006, $7,000. Co-PI. (PI: Haiyan Wang, ASU West Campus; CoPI: Yang Kuang, ASU Tempe Campus)
    Arizona State University - West Campus.