Wanqing Liu

Wanqing Liu

Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and of Pharmacology


Wanqing Liu

Office Address

iBio Center, Room 2401
Scott Hall, Room 6326
EACPHS, Room 3150

Office Phone




Research in the Liu lab is concentrated on genetics and genomics of human liver disease and cancer, as well as pharmacogenomics and precision medicine. Current ongoing research in the lab include the following:

1) Genomics of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). We use omics-based approach to identify critical genes, microRNAs, metabolites and their underlying pathways involved in NAFLD and NASH. The identified critical molecules and pathways are further taken into a mechanistic research pipeline using both in vitro and in vivo models to characterize the detailed mechanism. Over the past few years, we have identified a few important genes involved in the genetic susceptibility to NAFLD and NASH. In addition, we recently identified a number of microRNAs and lipids that are highly associated with NAFLD and NASH. We now have ongoing research to understand how these newly identified miRNAs and lipids mediate the development of NAFLD and NASH.

2) Precision medicine and personalized nutrition. We are interested in translational research to test hypotheses whether genotype-based patient treatment or nutritional therapy would lead to a more effective treatment or prevention for NAFLD and other disorders. Many DNA variants have been associated with inter-individual differences in nutrient metabolism and response, e.g. lipids which are further integral to NAFLD/NASH and other human disorders. We are currently utilizing in vitro and in vivo models to test the genotypic response to omega-3 lipids. We are also developing collaboration to test the same hypothesis in human population esp. by focusing on population disparities. In addition, we now are also developing siRNA and miRNA-based therapeutic for NAFLD and NASH as well.

3) Pharmacogenomics and pediatric liver drug metabolism. The genetic variation underlying the hepatic function of drug metabolism and transporting remains incompletely understood. Besides the genetic variation, there are also complex regulatory mechanism for pharmacogenes in the liver at the molecular level, e.g., regulation by miRNAs; as well as other context variability in human populations, e.g., age and gender. Our laboratory is dedicated to the use of various omics-based approaches and systems strategies to delineate both genetic and non-genetic factors in determining pharmacogene expression and activity in human livers, and to identify molecular markers that are able to guide personalized medication in both adults and children.

4) Cancer genetics and precision medicine. We are interested in the genetic interaction between germline variants and somatic mutations in human cancers. We hypothesize that germline variants provides environment as “soil” that is necessary to the “growth” of somatic mutations as “seeds”. We have in part corroborated this hypothesis by focusing on the EGFR mutations in lung cancer (Wei et al, CCR, 2015). We are now working on a stem-cell based approach combining with genome-wide assessment to further test this hypothesis. In addition, we also interested in identifying biomarker and molecular

Current Lab People:

Zheyun Peng, PhD Student (2018 - )

Arwa Alrasheed, PhD Student (2022 - )

Nivisha Vakeesan, MS Student (2021 - )

Sayed Hassan Raza Shah, MS Student (2022 - )


1996-2001 Ph.D. (Neurobiology/Psychiatric Genetics), Shanghai Institute of Physiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
1992-1996 B.S. (Biological Sciences/Education), Shandong Normal University, Jinan, China


2002-2005 Research Associate, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Areas of Expertise

Human genetics and genomics
Fatty Liver Disease and Steatohepatitis
Cancer genetics and genomics


1.Heravi G, Jang H, Wang X, Long Z, Peng Z, Kim S, Liu W*. Fatty acid desaturase 1 is a cancer marker for patient survival and a potential novel target for precision cancer treatment. Front. Oncol, 2022., in press

2.Lack of VMP1 impairs hepatic lipoprotein secretion and promotes non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Jiang X, Fulte S, Deng F, Chen S, Xie Y, Chao X, He X, Zhang Y, Li T, Li F, McCoin C, Morris EM, Thyfault J, Liu W, Li L, Davidson NO, Ding W, Ni H. J Hepatol. 2022. PMID: 3545269

3.Heravi G, Yazdanpanah O, Podgorski I, Matherly LH, Liu W*. Lipid metabolism reprogramming in renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2022;41(1):17-31. PMID: 34741716.

4.Li J, Tian A, Zhu H, Chen L, Wen J, Liu W*, Chen P*. Mendelian Randomization Analysis Reveals No Causal Relationship Between Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Severe COVID-19. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022. PMID: 35124268; PMCID: PMC8812093.

5.Roth K, Yang Z, Agarwal M, Liu W, Peng Z, Long Z, Liu W, Petriello MC. Exposure to a mixture of legacy, alternative, and replacement per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) results in sex-dependent modulation of cholesterol metabolism and liver injury. Environment International, 2021.

6.Athinarayanan S, Fan YY, Wang X, Callaway E, Cai D, Chalasani N, Chapkin RS, Liu W*. Fatty Acid Desaturase 1 Influences Hepatic Lipid Homeostasis by Modulating the PPARα-FGF21 Axis. Hepatol Commun. 2021;5(3):461-477. doi: 10.1002/hep4.1629.

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography:

Faculty Status

Cell Biology, Toxicology

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