Yi with Richard and Ryan at Muir Beach, CA.  It was a beautiful, sunny but cold day at a Northern California beach!
Yi with Richard and Ryan at Muir Beach, CA. It was a beautiful, sunny but cold day at a Northern California beach!

Yi Li
Professional Title: Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging
Locale: University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.
Fellowship: Neuroradiology
ASPNR member since 2017

ASPNR: What attracted you to pediatric neuroradiology?
Yi Li: I love the embryology and the biological basis that underpins pediatric neuroimaging. Neuroradiology is very logical because of its basis in neuroanatomy.  Pediatric neuroimaging is even more logical because it reflects the biological mechanisms behind human embryology and development. To me, pediatric neuroradiology simply “makes sense.” My daily work is interesting because I get to see variations on pathology reflected in human growth and development.

ASPNR: Do you have a colleague or mentor that inspired you in your career?
YL: I trained at UCSF for residency and fellowship, ​​and have had so many incredible mentors throughout my time here; there are truly too many to name them all. Since the very beginning, I have been inspired by Jim Barkovich – by his incredible knowledge and his immense contributions to the field.
I am also deeply grateful for Orit Glenn’s mentorship.  Orit has been a constant mentor and every day I’m inspired by her knowledge, her incredible eye for detail, and her dedication to supporting the next generation of radiologists.  Among my many great teachers during training, Orit and Jim gave me the confidence and inspired me to pursue my path.

ASPNR: What is your favorite part of your job?
YL: I love working with our trainees and consider working with them to be the most gratifying aspect of my academic career.  They are always insightful and ask questions that keep me on my toes.  We always have a lot of fun in the reading room and I love coming to work to teach and to learn from them.

ASNR: Any recent workplace event that gave you a lot of satisfaction?
YL: Glad you asked! Recently, in an interdisciplinary conference, we proposed a rare diagnosis that panned out- that was so satisfying. We got the diagnosis right, we impacted clinical management,  the subsequent discussion led to a potential research project, and I finished the workday inspired by my wonderful colleagues, happy that I made a difference, and excited to jump into more research!

ASPNR: Do you have a more focused area of interest within pediatric neuroradiology?
YL: I really enjoy neonatal imaging and I have met many wonderful mentors and collaborators through my research in this area.  The imaging is fun and challenging because the appearance of the normal brain continuously changes with ​​​​maturation, which adds an interesting dimension of complexity.

ASPNR: Name a workplace change that could significantly improve your job
YL: An innovation that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic that I loved was the virtual platform for society-sponsored seminars and virtual visiting professorships.  Over the past year, I learned from lectures given by speakers whom I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to learn from in person.  I hope this virtual exchange of knowledge continues after we emerge from the pandemic.

ASPNR: What does a random perfect day in your life look like?
YL: Since the pandemic started, I have worked from home on my academic days.  I love seeing my son off to pre-school in the morning, then spending the day thinking about interesting research, and then being home when he and my husband come home in the evening.  It’s wonderful having more time to spend with family on both ends of an interesting workday.

ASPNR: Name two things people would be surprised to know about you?
YL: I grew up in Iowa and my first summer job in high school was selling lumbar at the local hardware store.  I was surprisingly good at it! Despite not knowing much about lumbar when I started the job, I sold the most lumbar by the end of the summer, likely because I was the fastest at ringing people up at the checkout line.

The second would be that in medical school, I was interviewed on NPR regarding research on DTI of the arcuate fasciculus in tone-deafness. I should probably add that I was specifically interviewed as a tone-deaf study subject! Needless to say, I don’t sing in the shower 🙂

ASPNR: Best part about living in San Francisco?
YL: I love the natural beauty of the region and the proximity to nature.  I sometimes take the ferry to and from work, and the sunset on the bay from the ferry coming back home is just spectacular!

ASPNR: Will you be attending the Annual ASPNR Scientific Meeting at the Eden Roc, Miami in January 2022?
YL: Absolutely!  I wouldn’t miss it for the world!  January is synonymous with ASPNR!