Faculty Profile, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan

Faculty Profiles

Wan-Fen Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Investigator
Division of Environmental Health and Occupational Medicine


- Ph.D., Toxicology, Department of Environmental Health, University of Washington, USA (1993-1999)
- M.S., Toxicology, Department of Environment Health, University of Washington USA (1991-1993)
- B.S., Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (1983-1987)


- Assistant Investigator, Division of Environmental Health & Occupational Medicine, National Health Research Institutes (2002 - present)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (1999-2001)
- Research Assistant, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (1991-1999)
- Teaching Assistant, University of Washington Seattle, WA (1997-1998)
- Research Technician, Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan (1988-1991)


Dr. Li's research is focused on how human genetic variability in biotransformation enzymes may increase or decrease individual susceptibility to chemicals found in the environment. Her previous works involved human paraoxonase (PON1), an anti-oxidant serum enzyme that is able to metabolize lipid peroxides and therefore protect against the development of atherosclerosis. Given the fact that both PON1 polymorphisms and low PON1 activity have been linked to increased risk for coronary heart disease, her team tried to examine the relationship between PON1, heavy metals and cardiovascular disease in high exposure groups. Starting from year 2006, they began to study the genetic basis of variability in human metabolism of arsenic. Using an established cohort from blackfoot disease-endemic area, they designed a series of studies to look at the genetic association between urinary arsenic profiles and the polymorphisms of the genes that encode enzymes responsible for arsenic metabolism, such as AS3MT and GSTO1. Meanwhile, they also participated in a divisional program aiming to understand lung cancer development via co-exposure of arsenic and smoking. The purpose of Dr. Lis project is to examine the adverse interaction between smoking and arsenic exposure by looking at the effects of NNK and BaP, two major components of cigarette smoke, on the metabolism of arsenic.


Dr. Li's team have successfully set up a standard method to measure PON1 status in short time with only limited amount of sera. This method would provide a fast, accurate assessment of PON1 status for future large-scale epidemiological studies. They also found that heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, have significant inhibitory effects on PON1 activity in vitro. An epidemiological study of lead workers (in collaboration with Dr. Hung-Yi Chuang of Kaoshiung Medical University) also showed that blood lead level was associated with decreased serum PON1 activity, particularly in subjects who are homozygous for the R192 allele. These results have been published on Environmental Health Perspectives (114:1233-6).


1. Li WF, Pan MH, Chung MC, Ho CK, Chuang HY*. Lead exposure is associated with decreased serum paraoxonase (PON1) activity and genotypes. Environmental Health Perspectives 114 (8):1233-1236, 2006.

2. Wang SL, Chang FH, Liou SH, Wang HJ, Li WF*, Heish DPH. Inorganic arsenic exposure and its relation to metabolic syndrome in an industrial area of Taiwan. Environ Int. 33:805-811, 2007. (* = Corresponding Author)