Liang Liu, PhD

Assistant Professor
Chromatin and Epigenetic Gene Regulation
Telephone Number


Dr. Liu received a B.A. in Animal Sciences and Nutrition from Yangzhou University and a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and Genetics from Uppsala University. He undertook his postdoctoral training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Aging and Cancer Biology, and then in Cutaneous Biology at Columbia University, where he was promoted to tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology. 

He joined The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, as Assistant Professor in 2019. Dr. Liu’s research interests revolve around the interplay between genetic and epigenetic factors in regulating normal development and cancer pathogenesis. 

Both his graduate work and subsequent postdoctoral research focused on studying the basic biology and function of chromatin, which carries not only genetic information encoded by DNA sequences but also epigenetic information borne by DNA methylation and histone post-translational modifications. 

Current studies in his lab focus on elucidating the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying UV-induced skin carcinogenesis and identifying actionable targets for skin cancer prevention and treatment.


  • 2019: Assistant Professor, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota
  • 2015 – 2018: Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Member, the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2010 – 2014: Associate Research Scientist, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University
  • 2007 – 2010: Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, UAB
    Associate Member, UAB Diabetes Research and Training Center


  • Post-doctoral training: Biology of Cancer and Aging, Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), 2003 – 2007
  • PhD: Developmental Biology and Genetics, Uppsala University, Sweden, 2002
  • BS: Animal Sciences and Nutrition, Yangzhou University, China, 1995

Selected Awards

  • 2019 – 2020: Research award, The Prevent Cancer Foundation
  • 2014 – 2016: Career Development award, The NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan
  • 2014 – 2019: Research Scientist Career Development K01 award, NIH/NIAMS
  • 2014: Albert M. Kligman Travel Fellowship to the Society for Investigative Dermatology annual meeting
  • 2013: Research Scholar award, American Skin Association
  • 2013: Research award, Dermatology Foundation
  • 2006: Travel award to the 14th Annual Summer Training in Experimental Aging Research, National Institute on Aging
  • 2005 – 2007: Research Fellowship award, American Institute for Cancer Research
  • 2005: Outstanding Visiting Scholar award, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Primary Research Areas

  • Epigenetic mechanisms in development and cancer pathogenesis.
  • Role of hairless in epidermal homeostasis and skin carcinogenesis
  • New molecular targets for cancer prevention and treatment

Professional Memberships

  • 2010: Society of Investigative Dermatology
  • 2012: New York Academy of Sciences

Selected Publications (*corresponding author)

  1. Yao, S., Chan, G., Xie, M., Zeng, W., and Liu, L.* (2018) Identification of master regulator genes of UV response and their implications for skin carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis, in press.
  2. Lopez, A.T., Liu, L.*, and Geskin, L. (2018) Molecular mechanisms and biomarkers of skin photocarcinogenesis. Invited book chapter for “Human Skin Cancers, Potential Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets”, Blumenberg M. (ed), InTechOpen Press (ISBN 978-953-51-5584-3)
  3. Shen, Y., Stanislauskas, M., Li, G., Zheng, D., and Liu, L.* (2017) Epigenetic and genetic dissections of UV-induced global gene dysregulation in skin cells through multi-omics analyses. Scientific Reports 7, 42646.
  4. Yao, S., Kim, A., Du, R., and Liu, L.* (2016) Identification of transcriptomic signature genes of ultraviolet radiation in human skin cells. PLOS ONE 11(9):e0163054.
  5. Sun, X., Kim, A., Nakatani, M., Yao, S., and Liu, L.* (2016) Distinctive molecular responses to ultraviolet radiation between keratinocytes and melanocytes. Experimental Dermatology 25, 708-713.
  6. Liu, L., Kim, H., Casta, A., Kobayashi, Y., Sharpiro, L.S., and Christiano, A.M. (2014) Hairless is a H3K9 histone demethylase. The FASEB J, 28, 1534-42.
  7. Liu, L., Rezvani, H., Back, H., Hosseini, M., Tang, X., Zhu, Y., Mahfouf, M., Raad, H., Athar, M., Kim, A.L. and Bickers, D.R. (2014). Diminished p38α MAPK augments skin tumorigenesis via NOX2 driven ROS generation. PLoS ONE, 9(5):e97245.
  8. *Liu, L., van Groen, T., Kadish, I., Li, Y.Y., Karpf, A., Wang, D., and Tollefsbol, T.O. (2011) Impacts of Dnmt1 haploinsufficiency on healthy aging and cognition loss. Clinical Epigenetics 2, 349-360.