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Wei Li, Ph.D.

Wei Li

Chief, Retinal Neurophysiology Unit
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD


    • Basic Research
    • Retinal Neurophysiology
    • Retinal Cell Structure and Circuitry

    Current projects

    Dr. Li studies how the structure and electrical properties of cells in the retina influence communication with each other. Neurons in the retina communicate through structures called synapses. Dr. Li's long-term research goal is to discover how synaptic circuits are normally wired and how they are altered by diseases. Knowing these wiring diagrams is crucial for improving treatment of many blinding diseases.


    Dr. Li joined the NEI staff in 2007 as chief of the Retinal Neurophysiology Unit. Prior to joining the NEI, Dr. Li was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Ophthalmology at Northwestern University School of Medicine. In 1997, Dr. Li earned a bachelor's degree in Medicine from Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China and in 2003 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science (Neuroscience) from the University of Texas Houston Health Center.


    Dr. Li co-authored many peer-reviewed research articles published in journals, such as Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and PLoS One. He has also served as a reviewer of scientific publications for many journals, including Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Physiology, and PLoS Biology.

    Research highlights

    • Demonstrated that the structure and function of some the most influential synapses in the retina can change dramatically.
    • Characterized a network of retinal neurons involved in detecting color and light intensity.


    National Eye Institute
    (301) 496-5248
    National Eye Institute

    The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government's research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments.

    Last updated: June 26, 2019