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Recognition of Baruch S. Blumberg Prize to Dr. Wenhui Li

Publication Date:2021/05/07

On the virtual Gala of the 30th anniversary of the Hepatitis B Foundation, Dr. Timothy Block, the co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation, announced the recipient of this year’s Blumberg Prize - Dr. Wenhui Li from NIBS, Beijing, China for his discovery of HBV/HDV receptor on Hepatocytes.

“Knowing what the receptor is, in addition to being beautiful science, as also allowed the development of systems for the study of Hepatitis B, and very very importantly, rational development of new drugs to treat Hepatitis B, as a matter of fact, Myrcludex B, which was recently approved to treat Hepatitis D in Europe. ”  Dr. Block Commented.
Dr. Wenhui Li accepted the Prize online and expressed his excitement and gratitude. He said, “Our discovery of NTCP as the key receptor is only a beginning of new research. I believe there will be many new exciting findings yet to come. We’ll find a cure for HBV and eventually eliminate the infection. I look forward to working together with you all towards that goal”.
Click the video of the award:

An introduction of Dr. Wenhui Li
Wenhui Li was born in Gansu province, China, in 1971. He attended the public elementary and high schools in the town of Yuzhong, Gansu and entered Lanzhou Medical College (now Medical School of Lanzhou University) in 1989, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Medical Sciences (with highest honor) in 1994. He continued his study in the Lanzhou Institute of Biological Studies from 1994 and received his master degree in Immunology in 1997. After worked in the same institute for one year as a research assistant, he went to Beijing and became a Ph.D. student in the Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998. In 2001 he was awarded the Ph.D. (with great honor) in pathogen biology.
During late 2001 to 2004 he worked as a postdoctoral fellow of molecular virology in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He was appointed as an instructor in the same department in 2004 and worked there for three more years. In late 2007, Wenhui Li joined the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS), Beijing as an assistant investigator.
Wenhui Li’s research interest has been in the field of viral infection and host immunity, in particular the entry mechanisms of viruses. Working under Drs. Michael Farzan and Hyeryun Choe in Boston, in 2003, shortly after the outbreak of SARS-CoV, he discovered that angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a cellular receptor for SARS-CoV.
During the past five years, his lab at NIBS Beijing has mainly worked on viral entry of hepatitis B and D virus (HBV, HDV). In the year of 2012, his team successfully identified that a multiple transmembrane bile acids transporter (NTCP, sodium taurocholate co-transporting polypeptide), predominantly expressed in liver, is a functional receptor for HBV and HDV.