Ting-Kai (T. K.) Li, M.D., was appointed as the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in November 2002. NIAAA is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previous to his appointment, Dr. Li was Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine and the Directo r of the Indiana University School of Medicine Alcohol Research Center.
Born in Nanjing, China, Dr. Li earned his M.D. from Harvard University in 1959 and completed his residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He went on to conduct research at the Nobel Research Institute and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
After serving as Deputy Director of the Department of Biochemistry within the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Dr. Li joined the faculty at Indiana University as professor of medicine and biochemistry in 1971. He subsequently was named the school's John B. Hickam Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and later Distinguished Professor of Medicine. In 1985 he became director of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center (IARC) at the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he also was the Associate Dean for Research. In 2003, Dr. Li was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree by Indiana University.
Dr. Li is the author of more than 400 journal articles and book chapters. His distinguished research career includes advances that have transformed the way alcoholism is understood and the means of investigating alcohol's effects on the body and brain, including the characterization of the structure and dynamics of the multiple genetic variants of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in the metabolism of ethanol, and the differences among individuals in ADH-related physiology. Dr. Li also pioneered the development of animal models of alcohol consumption. These animal lines helped cement the once radical notion that alcohol consumption behavior was genetically influenced.
Dr. Li has delivered numerous major scientific addresses and lectureships both nationally and internationally, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his scientific accomplishments. These include the Jellinek Award, the James B. Isaacson Award for Research in Chemical Dependency Diseases, the R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Science Award, Tharp Award for Research Distinction in Alcoholism, and Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association. In 2006, Dr. Li received the Mark Brothers Lecture award from the Indiana University School of Medicine, which also announced the establishment of an endowed chair in Dr. Li’s name, in honor of his long and distinguished career and his dedication to research and leadership in the advancement of medicine.
Dr. Li is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Fellow), American Society for Clinical Investigation (Emeritus), and the Association of American Physicians (Emeritus). He is a past member of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and of the Advisory Committee to the Director, National Institutes of Health, and the International Society for Biomedical Research in Alcoholism. In addition, Dr. Li is a past President of the Research Society on Alcoholism and an honorary fellow of the United Kingdom's Society for the Study of Addiction.