Associate Professor


The Liu Group’s research is at the interface of Chemistry and Biology. Their work focuses on a) mechanistic studies and the application of pharmacologically important natural products using organic, molecular biology as well as biophysical methods, and b) the chemical basis of biological clock with the ultimate goal of elucidating the time-recording mechanism in the ageing process. Their work’s main focuses are the chemical basis of pathogen and host interactions, and the chemical nature of the biological clock. His projects address two major areas (1) mechanistic studies of two metallo-proteins (IspG and IspH) in the corresponding process, and (2) identification of other components in these two processes.

  • Chemical Basis of Biological Clock – The lab’s research into circadian rhythms (Should we explain what they are, or will most people know) the area is divided into three sub-areas:
    1. Determining the chemical basis and detailed signal transduction pathways in circadian clock
    2. Mechanistic studies on enzymes involved in histone-posttranslational modifications
    3. Identification of the inhibitors for the clock-related enzymes for therapeutic purposes.
  • Isoprenoid Biosynthesis – The lab’s research on isoprenoids, one of the largest and most structurally diverse groups of metabolites found in nature, is divided into four sub-areas:
    1. Mechanistic studies of the IspG and IspH
    2. Development of mechanism-based inhibitors of IspG, IspH as antibiotics and antimalaria drugs
    3. Building an isoprenoid library, biological activity evaluation, and isoprenoid production using bioengineering
    4. Mechanistic studies of the compound 8 triggered human innate-immune response signal transduction pathway.

Liu Group Website


Techniques & Resources

  • Enzymology – This includes organic synthesis, synthesis of isotopically labeled probes, sub-cloning, protein expression and purification, steady-state and pre-steady state kinetics, inhibitor design and evaluation, and mechanistic studies.
  • Genetics – The Liu lab uses transcriptional, post-transcriptional, and post-translational regulation, gene knockout, gene replacement, and metabolic engineering.
  • Spectroscopies – We utilize EPR and Mössbauer for metallo-enzyme characterizations.
  • The Liu Group provides opportunities for International collaborations in Europe and China.

What’s Next for Graduates of the Liu Group?

People from the Liu Group can pursue their interests in either Chemistry or Biology, because studies in the Liu lab combine both fields.