Two Leaders in Chinese Education Join the Young Scholars Advisory Board

Li Chenjian is a principal investigator at the IDG McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Peking University and is currently the Vice Provost of Peking University and Associate Dean of the School of Life Sciences. In addition to his scientific initiatives, Dr. Li has been a steadfast advocate for education reform in China. In 2013, as a member of the Peking University administration, he spearheaded a pilot admissions program that sought to recruit a small cohort of Shanghai High School students by looking for accomplishments beyond scores obtained from the Chinese college entrance exam, the so-called gaokao, but also taking into consideration extracurricular and leadership achievements. Having received widespread attention and recognition in China, this pioneering program is now slated for expansion to other cities and regions in Mainland China. Dr. Li’s efforts have been hailed as a major step towards overhauling China’s education system and bringing it into the 21st century.

Dr. Li received his undergraduate education from Beijing University and Peking Union Medical College and later obtained his PhD in molecular neurobiology from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, where he studied the genetic underpinnings of vision and retinal degeneration. He subsequently undertook research, focusing on neurobiology, as a postdoctoral associate at the Rockefeller University in New York and later moved on to lead his own laboratory at Weill Medical College at Cornell University. His research has led to significant insights into the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

Dr. Li is also the recipient of numerous prestigious research grants and awards, including the National Research Service Award and the C.H. Li Memorial Award. He has also won grants from the Michael J. Fox, Hereditary Disease, and Dana Foundations and has received support from the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Yu Lizhong is the Chancellor of NYU Shanghai. Before taking on his current role Dr. Yu served as president of East China Normal University from 2006 to 2012, and as president of Shanghai Normal University from 2003 to 2005. His distinguished career in higher education spans nearly 20 years.

Dr. Yu received his B.S. from East China Normal University in 1982, and Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, UK in 1989. His main research interests include environmental magnetism, climate change, and sustainable development. He is the winner of seven awards conferred by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Shanghai Municipal Government, and he is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed papers published in international or national journals. Dr. Yu has been actively involved in international cooperation in both research and higher education throughout his career. He occupied the UNESCO Chair for Teacher Education, received a honorary doctorate from Montclair State University (USA), ENS Lettres et sciences humaines (France), the University of Loughborough (UK) and the University of Liverpool (UK). He was also awarded the Legion of Honor by the French Government. Dr. Yu is the Co-Chairman of the Chinese Geography Association; Chairman of the Geographic Education Group of the Chinese Education Society, the Shanghai Geographic Society, and the Shanghai Science Promotion Committee for Youth; and a Senior Adviser to the Shanghai Association of Science and Technology.