Professor Li graduated from Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School. After rotational surgical training at Addebrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and St. Mary's Hospital, London, he was first appointed Senior Registrar and subsequently Consultant/Senior Lecturer at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Professor Li also spent over two years at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In 1982, Professor Li returned to Hong Kong to take up the Departmental Chairmanship and Foundation Chair of Surgery at The Chinese University of Honk Kong. In 1992 and 1995, he was elected Dean of the Medicine Faculty and was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1996.
Professor Li's surgical interests lie in upper gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary surgery. He has published over 300 original papers in international peer-reviewed journals and numerous book chapters. Professor Li has also been awarded Honorary Fellowships of the American Callege of Surgeons, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Glasgow, the Royal Society of Medicine, the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland as well as the President's Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.