Chenjian Li

Chenjian Li

Professor and Physician Scientist, 2021-2022 Berggruen China Center Fellow


Dr. Chenjian Li is currently the University Chair Professor of Peking University. He serves on the China Advisory Board of Eli Lilly and Company, the China Advisory Board of Cornell University, and the Rhodes Scholar Selection Committee.

Dr. Li is an alumnus of Peking University’s Biology Department, Peking Union Medical College, and Purdue University. He was the former Vice Provost of Peking University, Executive Dean of Yuanpei College, and Associate Dean of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University. Prior to his return to China, he was an associate professor at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the Aidekman Endowed Chair of Neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Li’s academic research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurological diseases, cancer drug development, and gene-editing and its philosophical and ethical considerations.

Parallel to research, Dr. Li is devoted to education reforms for the next generation of global-citizen leaders, ranging from high school and undergraduate to graduate and medical student education. He was one of the organizers of the influential “Science Outreach Program” in the United States. Since his move to China, he led important initiatives such as the establishment of the Cambridge-PKU Center for China Study, the inaugural Rhodes Scholar program in China, reforming college admission practices by using holistic evaluation, and the design and implementation of liberal education curriculum at PKU. Dr. Li writes as a public intellectual on science and humanity, and his Chinese translation of Richard Feynman’s book What Do You Care What Other People Think? received the 2001 National Publisher’s Book Award.

As a Berggruen Institute China Center fellow, he will be working on the philosophy and ethics of gene editing.


李沉简曾就读于北京大学、北京协和医学院八年制临床医学、普渡大学。他历任北京大学副教务长、北大元培学院执行院长、北大生命科学院副院长。 他在康奈尔大学医学院任助理教授、副教授,在西奈山医学院任艾戴克曼讲席教授。 他的研究主要在神经疾病的分子和细胞机制、肿瘤新药开发、基因编辑和它的哲学与伦理问题。

在科学研究的同时,李沉简教授献身于中学、大学、医学院的教育改革,培养具有世界公民领导力的下一代。他是美国中学生“科学援手”项目的组织者之一。 在北大期间他曾主持、参与了建立在剑桥大学的“剑桥-北大中国研究中心”、引进罗德学者项目、改革高考建立综合评估体系、建设元培学院和北大的通识教育课程和体系等工作。 李沉简教授的教学成果得到过2006年康奈尔大学医学院学生投票的“引路人”、北京大学生命科学院2015年“学生最喜爱的老师”、全球华人生命科学家协会2016年“杰出教学奖”、北京大学2019年“优秀教师奖”。 作为公众知识分子,李沉简教授在科学与人文方面多有著述;他翻译的物理学家理查德费曼的著作曾获得国家出版社评选的优秀图书奖。


composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.