Li Lab







 Xiaowei Li, PhD – Principal Investigator
DRC II 6069
UNMC, Omaha, NE 68198-5965
Phone: 402-559-9483



The Li laboratory focuses on exploiting bioengineering strategies for tissue regeneration by combining the principles of biomaterial science, biological science, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine with the advanced techniques in molecular and cell biology. Specifically, we aim to develop biomaterial approaches to induce a permissive microenvironment to improve efficiency of stem cell therapies for regeneration of injured/diseased tissues. We also apply biomaterial platforms to influence endogenous cell fates to promote functional tissue regeneration.



  1. Xiaowei Li, Chi Zhang, Agnes E Haggerty, Jerry Yan, Michael Lan, Michelle Seu, Mingyu Yang, Megan M Marlow, Inés Maldonado-Lasunción, Brian Cho, Zhengbing Zhou, Long Chen, Russell Martin, Yohshiro Nitobe, Kentaro Yamane, Hua You, Sashank Reddy, Da-Ping Quan, Martin Oudega, Hai-Quan Mao. The effect of a nanofiber-hydrogel composite on neural tissue repair and regeneration in the contused spinal cord. Biomaterials, 2020, 245: 119978.
  2. Xiaowei Li, Brian Cho, Russell Martin, Michelle Seu, Chi Zhang, Zhengbing Zhou, Ji Suk Choi, Xuesong Jiang, Long Chen, Gurjot Walia, Jerry Yan, Megan Callanan, Huanhuan Liu, Kevin Colbert, Justin Morrissette-McAlmon, Warren Grayson, Sashank Reddy, Justin M. Sacks, and Hai-Quan Mao. Nanofiber-hydrogel Composite–mediated Angiogenesis for Soft Tissue Reconstruction. Science Translational Medicine, 2019, 11(490): eaau6210.
  3. Xiaowei Li, Stephany Tzeng, Camila Zamboni, Guo-li Ming, Vassili Koliatsos, Jordan Green, Hai-Quan Mao. Enhancing oligodendrocyte differentiation by transient transcription activation via DNA nanoparticle-mediated transfection. Acta Biomaterialia, 2017, 54: 249-258.
  4. Xiaowei Li, Yu-Hao Cheng, Jose Roman, Hai-Quan Mao. (2017). Biomimetic nanofibers as artificial stem cell niche. In Ajaykumar Vishwakarma and Jeffrey Karp (Eds.). Biology and Engineering of Stem Cell Niche (pp. 411-425). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.
  5. Xiaowei Li, Stephany Tzeng, Xiaoyan Liu, Markus Tammia, Yu-Hao Cheng, Andrew Rolfe, Dong Sun, Ning Zhang, Jordan Green, Xuejun Wen, Hai-Quan Mao. Transient expression of neurogenin-2 through nanoparticles enhances neuronal differentiation of human neural progenitors for brain regeneration after traumatic injury. Biomaterials, 2016, 84: 157-166.
  6. Xiaowei Li, Kristen Kozielski, Yu-Hao Cheng, Huanhuan Liu, Camila Zamboni, Jordan Green, Hai-Quan Mao. Nanoparticle-mediated conversion of astrocytes into neurons and oligodendrocytes. Biomaterials Science, 2016, 4: 1100-1112.
  7. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Donglu Shi, Xuejun Wen. Particle systems for stem cell applications. Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 2015, 11: 1107-1123.
  8. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Benjamin Josey, James Chou, Yu Tan, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Short laminin peptide for improved neural stem cell growth. Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 2014, 3: 662-670.
  9. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Engineering in situ crosslinkable, and neurocompatible hydrogels. Journal of Neurotrauma, 2014, 31(16): 1431-1438.
  10. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Lin Cui, Christopher Brunson, Wen Zhao, Narayan Bhat, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Engineering an in situ crosslinkable hydrogel for enhanced remyelination. The FASEB Journal, 2013, 27(3): 1127-1136.
  11. Xiaowei Li, Eleni Katsanevakis, Xiaoyan Liu, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Engineering neural stem cell fates with hydrogel design for central nervous system regeneration. Progress in Polymer Science, 2012, 37(8): 1105-1129.
  12. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Wen Zhao, Xuejun Wen, Ning Zhang. Manipulating neural-stem-cell mobilization and migration in vitro. Acta Biomaterialia, 2012, 8(6): 2087-2095.
  13. Xiaowei Li, Xiaoyan Liu, Yu Tan, Van Tran, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Improve the viability of transplanted neural cells with appropriate sized neurospheres coated with mesenchymal stem cells. Medical Hypotheses, 2012, 79(2): 274-277.
  14. Xiaowei Li, Wenguang Liu, Guixiang Ye, Bingqi Zhang, Dunwan Zhu, Kangde Yao, Zuoqin Liu, Xizhong Sheng. Thermosensitive N-isopropylacrylamide-N-propylacrylamide-vinyl pyrrolidone terpolymers: synthesis, characterization and its preliminary application as embolic agents of cerebral rete mirabile. Biomaterials, 2005, 26(34): 7002-7011.
  15. Xiaoyan Liu, Xiaowei Li §, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Bioengineering strategies for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 2016, 12(4): 581-601 (§ Contributed equally to the manuscript).
  16. Wen Zhao, Xiaowei Li §, Xiaoyan Liu, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Effects of substrate stiffness on adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. Materials Science and Engineering: C, 2014, 40: 316-323 (§ Contributed equally to the manuscript).

Complete List of Published Work in Google Scholar:


  1. Russell Martin, Sashank Reddy, Justin Sacks, Xiaowei Li, Brian Cho, Hai-Quan Mao. Fiber-hydrogel composite surgical meshes for tissue repair (US Patent App. 15/753,274).
  2. Russell Martin, Sashank Reddy, Justin Sacks, Xiaowei Li, Hai-Quan Mao. Mesenchymal cell-binding composite material for tissue restoration (US Patent App. 15/753,272).
  3. Xuesong Jiang, Sashank Reddy, Gerald Brandacher, Hai-Quan Mao, Justin Sacks, Xiaowei Li, Kevin Feng, Russell Martin, George C Yalanis, Ji Suk Choi. Composite material for tissue restoration. US20180050130A1.
  4. Xiaowei Li, Ning Zhang, Xuejun Wen. Methods and compositions for cell culture platform. U.S. Patent 8,609,409 B2.


     1. AHA Career Development Award
         Role: PI
The objective of this study is to develop a unique composite to enhance the integration of transplanted cells with the host tissue at the cortical lesion site following ischemic stroke.
     2. Nebraska Stem Cell Research Project
         Role:  PI
The objective is to develop an injectable antioxidative resilient composite to recruit endogenous endothelial progenitors for vascularization of rat ischemic muscle to prevent myopathy following peripheral arterial disease.
     3. Great Plains IDeA-CTR Pilot Grant
         Role:  PI
The objective of this project is to develop unique 3D-printed hydrogel scaffolds to direct the organization and integration of neural stem cells following transplantation.
     4. NIH 1R01AG062198-01A1
         Role: Co-Investigator
         PIs: Iraklis Pipinos and Mark Carlson   
The objective is to delivery autologous mesenchymal stem cells or derived exosomes to improve histologic, and functional endpoints of the ischemic hindlimb with associated arteriogenesisin a porcine model of peripheral arterial disease.

Lab Members
Cui Li (Postdoctoral Fellow): PhD Harbin Medical University
Fujiao Nie (Visiting Graduate Student): Hunan University of Chinese Medicine


Postdoctoral Research Associate position is in Dr. Xiaowei Li’s lab in the Holland Regenerative Medicine Program in the Department of Neurological Sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Passionate researcher with a strong background in organic chemistry, material/polymer science, and biomaterials is welcome to apply. Qualified applicant is expected to have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree, excellent oral and communication skills, and the ability to work independently. Applicant should also be self-motivated and has strong publication records. Candidate with substantial polymer synthesis/modification is encouraged to apply and will be favorably considered. Review of application will begin immediately. Individuals from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Interested individuals should contact Dr. Xiaowei Li at with a cover letter of research interest, CV, and contact information of three references. Review of applications will begin immediately, and the positions will remain open until filled.