National Scientific Society Appoints Li as Division Chair

Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD

Published April 12, 2017

The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) has selected Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, to lead its Division for Behavioral Pharmacology.

Planning Annual Meeting, Supporting Students

Li will hold a four-year term as division chair; colleagues in the society nominated him for the role at last year’s division business meeting.

One of his primary responsibilities is to help plan the annual ASPET meeting, a forum that includes scientific symposia from invited speakers, division sessions, education and career development sessions, award lectures and a poster competition for students and postdoctoral scholars.

“A major part of a chair’s job is to solicit and organize the symposia for the annual meetings and attend a chair’s meeting each year at ASPET headquarters to decide which symposia will be hosted by each ASPET division,” explains Li. 

Moreover, he emphasizes that he is committed to furthering students’ growth.

“Promoting and enhancing the scientific development of students and postdoctoral fellows in ASPET’s Division for Behavioral Pharmacology is one goal of the division, and it is something that I certainly will work on,” says Li. 

Encouraging Trainees to Present Research

Li encourages his trainees to attend the annual ASPET meeting. He says that conferences are an important learning and networking opportunity for students.

“This year, we are going to have two doctoral students presenting their research at the ASPET meeting in Chicago,” Li says.

He notes that third-year doctoral student Lakeisha Lewter will present a poster titled “Antinociceptive Effects of Novel GABAA Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulators in Mice: Pain-Stimulated and Pain-Depressed Behaviors,” and fourth-year student Justin Siemian will present a poster titled “Ca2+ Signaling Inhibitors Attenuate the Antinociceptive but not Discriminative Stimulus Effects of the Imidazoline I2 Receptor Agonist 2-BFI in Rats.”

In addition to working with doctoral students, Li currently mentors three master’s students and one postdoctoral fellow in his lab. 

A Decade of Membership in ASPET

Li’s appointment as chair of ASPET’s Division for Behavioral Pharmacology is “truly an honor,” he says. 

The division serves members who investigate the way that drugs alter behavior; it fosters scholarship and discusses recent innovations in the field. “The division serves as the primary channel and scientific home for hundreds of behavioral pharmacologists,” he explains.

Li has been a member of the society since 2007. In 2013 he was appointed to a three-year role as councilor of the division

In 2007, Li won the society’s Young Scientist Travel Award, and he received second place for postdoctoral poster in 2009.

Members of ASPET — a 5,000 member scientific society — conduct basic and clinical pharmacological research and aim to develop new medicines and therapeutic agents for existing and emerging diseases. ASPET members work in academia as well as for the government, large pharmaceutical companies, small biotech companies and non-profit organizations.

Research Expertise in Pain and Stimulant Abuse

Li focuses his research on the pharmacotherapy of stimulant abuse, and he also uses pharmacological approaches to seek novel therapeutics for pain.

He and trainees in his lab are interested in understanding the neurobiological crosstalk between pain and addiction. They are developing novel behavioral procedures to simultaneously measure pain affect and addiction-related behaviors.

Li uses behavioral pharmacological procedures to understand how drugs work at the behavioral level. He has expertise in drug discrimination, schedule-controlled responding, drug self-administration, delay discounting, place conditioning, locomotor activity and various acute and chronic pain tests.

On April 22, Li will give a talk titled “Deciphering Imidazoline I2 Receptors: A Behavioral Approach” at the Behavioral Pharmacology Society annual meeting, a satellite meeting to ASPET.