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Jingmei Li

Assistant professor

About me

An aspiring Singaporean woman researcher in Sweden.


PhD in Medical Science at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, together with Genome Institute of Singapore, 2007-2011. Supervisor: A/Prof Liu Jianjun, Senior Group Leader (Human Genetics) and Deputy Director of Research Programmes, GIS. Funded by a full Agency for Science Technology and Research Graduate Scholarship (A*STAR AGS Overseas). Research project: Genetic determinants of breast cancer risk.

Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences (Biology), with a minor in Technopreneurship, at the National University of Singapore (NUS), 2001-2006. GRE test scores: 730/800 (Verbal), 800/800 (Quantitative). Completed the University Scholars Programme, NUS Overseas Colleges program, and a student exchange program to the University of Melbourne. Funded by a full NUS Undergraduate Scholarship. Valedictorian for the Class of 2006 (Faculty of Science) and winner of the Fraser and Neave Book Prize.

Research description

Since the news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy went mainstream, a lot of limelight has been given to the inherited risk of breast cancer. Besides the extremely rare BRCA gene mutation that Angelina has (~0.25% of all women have that mutation), recent large-scale genotyping experiments have found more than 77 common variants implicated in the development of breast cancer (according to the definition of loci by Nature Genetics editor Orli Bahcall).


However, the disease does not always behave in a uniform way. Some cancers, such as interval breast cancers, which are detected within two years of a negative mammogram, are associated with more aggressive tumour characteristics and worse prognosis. As women with interval cancers were twice as likely to have a personal of family history of breast cancer, it is likely that there exist inherited variants that predispose a woman to the more aggressive form of the disease. The aim of my project is to go beyond studying risk to identifying inherited genetic variants that predispose women to the more aggressive form of the disease, or alter one’s prognosis.

Academic honors, awards and prizes

2014 UNESCO-L'Oréal International Fellowship US$20,000 The UNESCO-L’Oréal International Fellowships are designed to identify and reward fifteen deserving, committed and talented young women scientists, from all over the world, active in the field of life sciences. With a view to ensuring that a balanced geographical representation is made, a maximum of three young women, from each of the five geo-cultural regions of the world, are awarded fellowships.

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Graduate Scholarship (provides full funding for graduate work)

Lee Kuan Yew Business Plan Competition (2005/6) Finalist and winner of 5000USD prize

National University of Singapore (NUS) Undergraduate Scholarship (provides full funding for undergraduate work)
     Valedictorian, Faculty of Science, Class of 2006

     Fraser and Neave Book Prize (2006)

     Dean’s List, AY 2002-2003









InspireSG - Li Jingmei

“I feel like a woman in science doing work for women”Jingmei furthered her research on genetic risk factors for aggressive breast cancer and is passionate to educate the public on breast cancer prevention. In 2014, she received the prestigious UNESCO-L’Oreal International for Women in Science Fellowship for her work on breast cancer. Jingmei’s work in research pushes the boundaries of what we know in science to benefit society. How will you push boundaries and make a difference to your community?

Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Wednesday, 12 August 2015