Alumni Spotlight


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Betsy Towner Levine
Senior Writer

Gary Li: Biological Sciences '84


Physician and avid mountain biker Gary Li mixes work with pleasure to summarize the challenges facing the U.S. health care system today.

“Referring to bicycle parts, Keith Bontrager of mountain-bike building fame once said ‘strong, light, cheap—pick two,’” Li says. “But the goal for our country’s health care is to get three of three—high quality, lower costs, and universal access! It will not be an easy road.”

With his belief that the entire health care system will change rather dramatically over the next few years, Li aims to effect positive change for both doctors and patients.

He is very involved in strategic planning and implementation of operational changes within both his medical group and his specialty, emergency medicine. In addition to his clinical practice, Li serves as a regional director in a large emergency medicine physician partnership, CEP America.

Li’s preparation for his active career began during his undergraduate years at UC Davis, where majoring in Biological Sciences gave him a solid foundation for medical school, for which he also attended Davis.

“The quality of the curriculum was excellent and I was well prepared for medical school and subsequent training,” Li says.

But that wasn’t the only reason he came here.

“First, it has an excellent academic reputation and is one of the oldest UC campuses. Second, I felt the size was just about right—not too big, not too small. I met many enthusiastic and friendly people when I first toured the campus, and I really loved the ‘college town’ feel of Davis itself,” Li says.

And that’s not all.

“Finally and admittedly, it was close to Tahoe and skiing,” Li confesses.

Once here, Li felt Davis gave him everything necessary to prepare him for his future endeavors: academic excellence, a broad education, an opportunity to grow socially and as a person, and a place to develop lifelong friendships and connections.

In addition, his major allowed enough flexibility to broaden his education with great courses in philosophy, social sciences, art, French, golf and, his self-declared favorite, viticulture.

Li hopes that all students enjoy the incredible variety of activities Davis offers.

“Take classes outside your major whenever possible. Participate in extracurricular activities. Play intramural sports. Study abroad -- well, I never did but really wish I had,” Li says. “Such opportunities really only come around once in life.”

The Los Gatos resident lives with his wife, Kathy, 14-year-old daughter, Brigitte, and three male cats—“apropos for Los Gatos,” as he says. He tries to get out to mountain bike whenever possible, but “interestingly, somehow the same hill climbs are getting steeper each year and I am not quite sure why.”