Dr. Y. Michael Li, M.D. Ph.D.

Dr. Y. Michael Li, M.D. Ph.D.
  • Speciality Complex Spine Diseases and Brain & Spine Tumors
  • Degrees M.D. of Medicine
  • Experience 15-year level one University trauma center experience and thousands of complex and revision spine experience
  • Training - Master Expert in Minimally Invasive and complex spine surgery<br> - Performs less than 1-inch incision. (Images available upon request)<br> - Currently Clinical Assistant Professor at MD Anderson and SUNY<br> - Previous faculty at University of Rochester<br> - National leader for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery with excellent skill and outcome<br> <!--<ol> <li>Master Expert in Minimally Invasive and complex spine surgery</li> <li>Performs less than 1-inch incision. (Images available upon request)</li> <li>Currently Clinical Assistant Professor at MD Anderson and SUNY</li> <li>Previous faculty at University of Rochester</li> <li>15-year level one University trauma center experience and thousands of complex and revision spine experience</li> <li>National leader for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery with excellent skill and outcome</li> </ol>-->
  • Work days Monday - Friday


Dr. Yan Michael Li is an award-winning fellowship-trained spine and tumor neurosurgeon who specializes in the treatment of complex spine diseases and brain & spine tumor. Dr. Li has strong clinical interest in simple and complex spine surgery, minimally invasive spinal surgery, and computer-assisted spinal navigation and robotic surgery. Dr. Li’s clinical focus includes all aspects of spinal surgery such as including herniated disk disease with nerve compression, degenerative spine stenosis, complex spine tumor, trauma and deformity diseases. Dr. Li provides the latest and most efficient treatment options for each patient with back pain, including minimally invasive herniated disk surgery through less than one inch incision, minimally invasive lateral or posterior spinal fusion surgery, artificial disc implants that allow for more mobility.

He has a reputation as an expert in complex spinal surgery, with more than 50 percent of his referrals originating from other surgeons who relied on him for revision surgeries or complex spine cases that were outside their realm of expertise. In order to achieve the very best in patient outcomes, Dr. Li’s practice emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to disease processes and he works very closely with other specialists such as pain specialists, neurologists and physical therapists.

Dr. Li treats patients with brain and spine tumor, including gliomas, meningioma, metastatic disease, skull base lesions. He employs advanced awake mapping, imaging techniques, intraoperative navigation and microsurgery to ensure maximal tumor removal and achieve the safest possible surgical outcomes. Dr. Li has advanced training in some of the most leading-edge technologies available, allowing him to provide the latest, most efficient options for each patient. These technologies include minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery for spine, brain and skull base tumors, advanced laser surgery for brain and metastatic spine tumor, primary spine tumor en bloc resection, stereotactic radiosurgery. Furthermore, Dr. Li works with a multi-disciplinary team to ensure that the best possible treatment strategies are offered to his patients and individualized treatments for brain and spine tumors based on personal genomic profiling.

Dr. Li received his medical degree from Peking Union Medical College and his PhD from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He then completed neurosurgical residency and enfolded complex spine fellowship at State University of New York, fellowships at Dana Farber Cancer Center Boston Children Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School, as well as a Neurosurgical Oncology fellowship at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center focusing complex brain and spine tumor surgery.

Dr. Li has authored more than 60 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters such as Nature Medicine, Cancer Cell, Journal of Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, Spine, Journal of Spine, Clinical Spine Surgery, JAMA Oncology, Cancer Research, Journal of Neuro-Oncology, Global Spine Journal, World Neurosurgery, Clinical Neuroscience et al. He has received Bittner Award on Brain Tumor Research from American Association of Neurological Surgeons and awards from the Department of Defense Cancer Research Program, and his patent of nanoparticle gene therapy has been adopted in NCI Clinical Trial.

He is currently performing research focused on maximal safe resection of brain and spine tumor, surgical outcome study for complex brain and spine surgery, cancer specific brain and spine tumor targeted therapy and local delivery.

What Programs has Dr. Li taken?

  • Minimally Invasive & Complex Spine Program
  • Comprehensive Brain & Spine Tumor Program

What sets Dr. Li apart from other surgeons?

  • Master Expert in Minimally Invasive and complex spine surgery
  • Performs less than 1-inch incision. (Images available upon request)
  • Robotic and Navigated “GPS” precision spine surgery
  • Laser spine surgery for Rhizotomy & Diskectomy
  • Endoscopic foramitomy and diskectomy for nerve decompression
  • Non-fusion artificial disc replacement
  • Revision surgery with less than half chances to get another surgery compared to routine spine revision
  • Currently Clinical Assistant Professor at MD Anderson and SUNY
  • Previous faculty at University of Rochester
  • 15-year level one University trauma center experience and thousands of complex and revision spine experience
  • National leader for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery with excellent skill and outcome
  • 60+ Peer review papers published on spine and neurosurgery. Presented and lectured in many national and international conferences
  • Half of Dr. Li’s referrals originating from other surgeons for revision surgeries or complex spine cases that were outside their realm of expertise
  • Dozens of Dr. Li’s patients actually are physicians or health professionals


A. Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals:

  1. Towner JE, Li YI, Singla A, Moquin R, Li YM. Retrospective Review of Revision Surgery After Image-guided Instrumented Spinal Surgery Compared With Traditional Instrumented Spinal Surgery. Clin Spine Surg. 2020 Aug;33(7):E317-E321.
  2. Towner JE, Li YI, Pieters TA, Li YM. Descriptive Analysis of 1972 Cervical Corpectomy Patients and 30-Day Postoperative Outcomes. Int J Spine Surg. 2020 Jun;14(3):412-417.
  3. Li YM, Frisch RF, Huang Z, Towner JE, Li YI, Edsall AL, Ledonio C. Comparative Effectiveness of Laterally Placed Expandable versus Static Interbody Spacers: A 1-Year Follow-Up Radiographic and Clinical Outcomes Study. Asian Spine J. 2020 Jun 12;.
  4. Li YI, Ventura N, Towner JE, Li K, Roberts DE, Li YM. Risk factors and associated complications with unplanned intubation in patients with craniotomy for brain tumor. J Clin Neurosci. 2020 Mar;73:37-41.
  5. Piper K, Zou L, Li D, Underberg D, Towner J, Chowdhry AK, Li YM. Surgical Management and Adjuvant Therapy for Patients With Neurological Deficits From Vertebral Hemangiomas: A Meta-Analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2020 Jan 15;45(2):E99-E110.
  6. Liu X, Tian W, Kolar B, Johnson MD, Milano MT, Jiang H, Lin S, Li D, Mohile NA, Li YM, Walter KA, Ekholm S, Wang HZ. The correlation of fractional anisotropy parameters with Ki-67 index, and the clinical implication in grading of non-enhancing gliomas and neuronal-glial tumors. Magn Reson Imaging. 2020 Jan;65:129-135.
  7. Mahon BZ, Mead JA, Chernoff BL, Sims MH, Garcea FE, Prentiss E, Belkhir R, Haber SJ, Gannon SB, Erickson S, Wright KA, Schmidt MZ, Paulzak A, Milano VC, Paul DA, Foxx K, Tivarus M, Nadler JW, Behr JM, Smith SO, Li YM, Walter K, Pilcher WH. Translational Brain Mapping at the University of Rochester Medical Center: Preserving the Mind Through Personalized Brain Mapping. J Vis Exp. 2019 Aug 12;(150).
  8. Huang JF, Chen D, Sang CM, Zheng XQ, Lin JL, Lin Y, Ni WF, Wang XY, Li YM, Wu AM. Nomogram for Individualized Prediction and Prognostic Factors for Survival in Patients with Primary Spinal Chordoma: A Population-Based Longitudinal Cohort Study. World Neurosurg. 2019 Aug;128:e603-e614.
  9. Garcea FE, Almeida J, Sims MH, Nunno A, Meyers SP, Li YM, Walter K, Pilcher WH, Mahon BZ. Domain-Specific Diaschisis: Lesions to Parietal Action Areas Modulate Neural Responses to Tools in the Ventral Stream. Cereb Cortex. 2019 Jul 5;29(7):3168-3181.
  10. Pieters TA, Li YI, Towner JE, Schmidt T, Vates GE, Pilcher W, Li YM. Comparative Analysis of Decompression Versus Decompression and Fusion for Surgical Management of Lumbar Spondylolisthesis. World Neurosurg. 2019 May;125:e1183-e1188.
  11. Nunno A, Li Y, Pieters TA, Towner JE, Schmidt T, Shi M, Walter K, Li YM. Risk Factors and Associated Complications of Symptomatic Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Craniotomy for Meningioma. World Neurosurg. 2019 Feb;122:e1505-e1510.
  12. Chen D, Shao MM, Wang XY, Li YM, Wu AM. Current strategies of reduce the rate of dysphagia and dysphonia after anterior cervical spine surgery and role of corticosteroids. Ann Transl Med. 2018 Dec;6(Suppl 2):S99.
  13. Towner JE, Piper KF, Schoeniger LO, Qureshi SH, Li YM. Use of image-guided bone scalpel for resection of spine tumors: technical note. AME Case Rep. 2018;2:48.
  14. Nunno A, Johnson MD, Wu G, Li YM. Metastatic prostate cancer mimicking a subdural hematoma: A case report and literature review. J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Sep;55:109-112.
  15. Wang PF, Wang TJ, Yang YK, Yao K, Li Z, Li YM, Yan CX. The expression profile of PD-L1 and CD8+ lymphocyte in pituitary adenomas indicating for immunotherapy. J Neurooncol. 2018 Aug;139(1):89-95.
  16. Chen D, Chen CH, Zhang LL, Lin ZK, Zheng JW, Phan K, Mobbs RJ, Lin Y, Ni WF, Wang XY, Li YM, Wu AM. Chondrosarcoma of the Osseous Spine Treated by Surgery With or Without Radiotherapy: A Propensity Score Matched and Grade/Stage-stratified Study. Clin Spine Surg. 2018 Jul;31(6):E310-E316.
  17. Wang PF, Cai HQ, Zhang CB, Li YM, Liu X, Wan JH, Jiang T, Li SW, Yan CX. Molecular and clinical characterization of PTPN2 expression from RNA-seq data of 996 brain gliomas. J Neuroinflammation. 2018 May 15;15(1):145.
  18. Cheng X, Zhang L, Zhang K, Zhang G, Hu Y, Sun X, Zhao C, Li H, Li YM, Zhao J. Circular RNA VMA21 protects against intervertebral disc degeneration through targeting miR-200c and X linked inhibitor-of-apoptosis protein. Ann Rheum Dis. 2018 May;77(5):770-779.
  19. Wu AM, Zhang K, Li XL, Cheng XF, Zhou TJ, Du L, Chen C, Tian HJ, Sun XJ, Zhao CQ, Li YM, Zhao J. The compression of L5 nerve root, single or double sites?-radiographic graded signs, intra-operative detect technique and clinical outcomes. Quant Imaging Med Surg. 2018 May;8(4):383-390.
  20. Piper K, DeAndrea-Lazarus I, Algattas H, Kimmell KT, Towner J, Li YM, Walter K, Vates GE. Risk Factors Associated with Readmission and Reoperation in Patients Undergoing Spine Surgery. World Neurosurg. 2018 Feb;110:e627-e635.
  21. Cheng X, Zhang F, Zhang K, Sun X, Zhao C, Li H, Li YM, Zhao J. Effect of Single-Level Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion on Segmental and Overall Lumbar Lordosis in Patients with Lumbar Degenerative Disease. World Neurosurg. 2018 Jan;109:e244-e251.
  22. Cheng X, Zhang G, Zhang L, Hu Y, Zhang K, Sun X, Zhao C, Li H, Li YM, Zhao J. Mesenchymal stem cells deliver exogenous miR-21 via exosomes to inhibit nucleus pulposus cell apoptosis and reduce intervertebral disc degeneration. J Cell Mol Med. 2018 Jan;22(1):261-276.
  23. Liu X, Tian W, Chen H, LoStracco TA, Zhang J, Li MY, Germin B, Wang HZ. Advanced Neuroimaging in the Evaluation of Spinal Cord Tumors and Tumor Mimics: Diffusion Tensor and Perfusion-Weighted Imaging. Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2017 Apr;38(2):163-175.
  24. Piper K, Algattas H, DeAndrea-Lazarus IA, Kimmell KT, Li YM, Walter KA, Silberstein HJ, Vates GE. Risk factors associated with venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing spine surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2017 Jan;26(1):90-96.
  25. Brown TJ, Brennan MC, Li YM, et al. Association of the Extent of Resection With Survival in Glioblastoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Oncol. 2016 Jun 16.
  26. Piper K, Algattas H, DeAndrea-Lazarus IA, Kimmell KT, Li YM, Walter KA, Silberstein HJ, Vates GE. Risk factors associated with venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing spine surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2016 Sep 2:1-7.
  27. Li YM, Suki D, Hess K, Sawaya R. The influence of maximum safe resection of glioblastoma on survival in 1229 patients: Can we do better than gross-total resection? J Neurosurgery. Apr;124(4):977-88. 2016.
  28. Hu M, Guan H, Lau CC, Terashima K, Jin Z, Cui L, Wang Y, Li G, Yao Y, Guo Y, Li YM, et al. An update on the clinical diagnostic value of β-hCG and αFP for intracranial germ cell tumors. Eur J Med Res. Mar 12;21:10, 2016.
  29. Towner JE, Johnson MD, Li YM. Intraventricular Hemangiopericytoma: A Case Report and Literature Review. World N eurosurg. 2016 May;89:728.e5-728.
  30. Huang J, Li YM, Cheng Q, Vallera DA, Hall WA. A novel brain metastasis xenograft model for convectionenhanced delivery of targeted toxins via a microosmotic pump system enabled for realtime bioluminescence imaging. Mol Med Rep. Oct;12(4):5163-8, 2015.
  31. Hanna B, Li YM, Beutler T, Goyal P, Hall WA. Xanthomatous hypophysitis. J Clin Neurosci. Jul;22(7):1091-7. 2015.
  32. Li YM, Vallera DA, Hall WA.  Diphtheria toxin-based immunotoxin therapy for brain tumors (with Journal Cover Page). J Neurooncol, Sep;114(2):155-64. 2013.
  33. Li YM, Calancie B, Marawar S, Fredrickson BE, Jennings J. Spinal Cord Ischemia during Anterior Cervical Surgery. Manuscript in Preparation.
  34. Li YM, Huang J, Vallera DA, Hall WA. Intracranial therapy of Glioblastoma With a novel bispecific ligand-directed Diphtheria Toxin targeting human EGFR and uPAR receptors. Manuscript Submitted.
  35. Li YM, Long X, Vallera DA, Hall WA. Ligand-Targeted Cytotoxins Intracranial Therapy for Malignant Metastatic Brain Cancer. Manuscript in Preparation.
  36. Li YM, Singla A, Hoon C, Long X, Goyal P, Hall WA. Endoscopic transsphenoidal pituitary surgery: safety and cost effectiveness in 134 consecutive cases. Manuscript submitted.
  37. Abdulhamid M, Li YM, Moquin RR. Can the use of copper in spine surgery with instrumentation result in a reduced risk of postoperative infections? Evaluating the antimicrobial efficacy of copper against the growth of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus in Vitro. Manuscript reviewed in Spine, 2015.
  38. Abdulhamid M, Li YM, Singla A, Moquin RR. The Use of Intraoperative O-Arm® Image Guidance Navigation Could Eliminate the Risk of Revision Surgery for Malpositioned Screws in Spine Surgery with Instrumentation: A Case Series Review Comparing the Rate of Revision Surgery for Malpositioned Screws Placed Manually versus with O-Arm® Image Guidance Navigation. Manuscript reviewed in JNS Spine, 2015.
  39. Huang J, Li YM, Massague J, Vallera DA, Hall WA. A novel brain metastasis xenograft model for convection-enhanced delivery of targeted toxins via a micro-osmotic pump system enabled for real-time bioluminescence imaging. International Journal of Cancer,
    109(2):229-38. PMID: 22696210. 2013.
  40. Cantu RC, Li YM, Abdulhamid M, Chin LS. Return to play after cervical spine injury in sports. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2013 Jan;12(1):14-7.
  41. Li YM, Blaskiewicz D, Hall WA. Staphylococcus Lugdunensis Intracranial Abscess caused by Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Related Infection in a Hydranencephaly patient. World Neurosurgery, 2013 Jan; 12: S1878-8750(13)00107-1.
  42. Huang J, Li YM, Massague J, Vallera DA, Hall WA. Convection enhanced delivery of the bispecific targeted toxin DTATEGF in a mouse xenograft model of a human metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. J Neurooncol, 2012 Sep;109(2):229-38.
  43. Tian W, Han X, Xu Y, Duggineni S, Luo G, Li YM, Han X, Huang Z, An J. Structure-based discovery of a novel inhibitor targeting the β-catenin/Tcf4 interaction. Biochemistry. 2012 Feb 51(2):724-31.
  44. Li YM, Hall WA.  Cell Surface Receptors in Malignant Glioma. Neurosurgery. 2011 Oct;69(4):980-94; discussion 994.
  45. Schanker BD, Walcott BP, Nahed BV, Kahle KT, Li YM, Coumans JV. Familial Chiari malformation: case series Neurosurg Focus. 2011 Sep; 31(3):E1.
  46. Abdulhamid M, Li YM, Hall WA. Spontaneous Acute Subdural Hematoma as the Initial Manifestation of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. J Neurooncol, 2011 Feb;101(3):513-6.
  47. Li YM, Hall WA. Targeted Toxins in Brain Tumor Therapy, Toxins 2010 Nov;2(11):2645-62.
  48. Li Y, Zou L, Li Q, Haibe-Kains B, Tian R, Li YM, Desmedt C, Sotiriou C, Szallasi Z, Iglehart JD, Richardson AL, Wang ZC. Amplification of LAPTM4B and YWHAZ contributes to chemotherapy resistance and recurrence of cancer. Nature Medicine 2010 Feb;16(2):214-8.
  49. Jiang J, Xia XB, Xu HZ, Xiong Y, Song WT, Xiong SQ, Li YM. Inhibition of retinal neovascularization by gene transfer of small interfering RNA targeting HIF-1alpha and VEGF. J Cell Physiol. 2009 Jan;218(1):66-74.
  50. Xia XB, Xiong SQ, Xu HZ, Jiang J, Li YM. Suppression of retinal neovascularization by shRNA targeting HIF-1alpha. Curr Eye Res. 2008 Oct; 33(10):892-902.
  51. Li YM, Zhou BP, Jiong D, Pan Y, Hung MC. PI-3K/Akt induced HIF-1 Activation Independent of Hypoxia in HER2 Overexpressing Cell. Cancer Research 2005 Apr 15;65(8):3257-63.
  52. Ding Q, Xia W, Liu JC, Yang JY, Lee DF, Xia J, Bartholomeusz G, Li YM, et al. Erk associates with and primes GSK-3beta for its inactivation resulting in upregulation of beta-catenin. Molecular Cell. 2005 Jul 22;19(2):159-70.
  53. Li Z, Ding Q, Li YM, Miller SA, Abbruzzese JL, Hung MC. Suppression of pancreatic tumor progression by systemic delivery of a pancreatic-cancer-specific promoter driven Bik mutant. Cancer Letter. 2005 Jun 10.
  54. Li YM, Pan Y, Wei Y, Cheng X, Zhou BP, Tan M, Xia W, Zhou X, Hortobagyi GN, Yu D, and Hung MC. Up-regulate chemokine receptor CXCR4 is essential for HER2-mediated cancer lung metastasis, Cancer Cell. 2004 Nov; 6(5):459-69. Accompanied by Preview: A new key in cancer metastasis. Cancer Cell. 2004 Nov;6(5):429-30. Reviewed by Lancet 2005 Mar 16;365(9464):1006-7. Nature Review Cancer Highlights 2005 Jan,5(1):1.

B. Book and Reference Chapters:

  1. Li YM, Dirks M, Rhines L. Evaluation and Decision Making For Metastatic Spine Tumor. AO Spine Master Series: Metastatic Spinal Tumor (Volume 1). Thieme, New York, 2013.
  2. Li YM, Šimonová G, Lisčák R, Novotný J. Sinlga A, and Chin L. Ocular and Orbital Lesions, in Chin & Regine (Eds): Principles and Practice of Stereotactic Radiosurgery. Springer, New York, 2013.
  3. Hall WA, Huang J, Li YM, Vallera DA. Bispecific Targeted Toxin DTATEGF Against Metastatic NSCLC Brain Tumor. In Hayat MA (Eds): Tumor of Central Nervous System. 2013.
  4. Li YM, Chin LS. Stereotactic Radiosurgery. Medscape Reference 2012.