Wanqing Liu

Wanqing Liu

Associate 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:

Xiaokun Wang, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow

Zhipeng Liu: Graduate Student

Xiaoqian Meng, PhD: Visiting Scholar

Ali Omaima, MS.: Visiting Scholar


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. Zheng G, Zhang Z, Liu H, Xiong Y, Luo L, Jia X, Peng C, Zhang Q, Li N, Gu X, Lu M, Song Y, Pan Y, Liu J, Liu W* and He Z*. HSP27-mediated Extracellular and Intracellular Signaling Pathways Synergistically Confer Chemo-Resistance in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Tongue. Clin Cancer Res. 2018. Accepted.
2. Tricò D, Di Sessa A, Caprio S, Chalasani N, Liu W, Liang T, Graf J, Herzog RI, Johnson CD, Umano GR, Feldstein AE, Santoro N. Oxidized Derivatives of Linoleic Acid in Pediatric Metabolic Syndrome: Is Their Pathogenic Role Modulated by the Genetic Background and the Gut Microbiota? Antioxid Redox Signal. 2017. doi: 10.1089/ars.2017.7049
3. Neumann E, Mehboob H, Ramirez R, Mirkov S, Liu W*. Age-dependent Hepatic UDP-glucuronosyltransferase Gene Expression and Activity in Children. Front Pharm. 2016; 7:437.
4. Wang X, Liu Z, Wang K, Wang Z, Sun X, Zhong L, Deng G, Song G, Sun B, Peng Z and Liu W*. Additive Effects of the Risk Alleles of PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in a Chinese Population. Front Genet. 7:140. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00140. .
5. Liu W*, Anstee QM, Wang X, Gamazon ER, Athinarayanan S, Liu YL, Darlay R, Cordell HJ, Daly AK, the FLIP Investigators, Day CP, Chalasani N. Genetic Control of Hepatic PNPLA3 Transcription and a High-Risk Haplotype in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Aging. 2016. doi: 10.18632/aging.101067. .
6. Wang X, Wang H, Shen B, Overholser BR, Cooper BR, Lu Y, Tang H, Zhou C, Sun X, Zhong L, Favus MJ, Decker BS, Liu W*, Peng Z*. 1-alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 Alters the Pharmacokinetics of Mycophenolic Acid in Renal Transplant Recipients by Regulating Two Extrahepatic UDP-glucuronosyltransferases 1A8 and 1A10. Transl Res., 2016; 178:54-62.e6. .

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography:

Faculty Status

Cell Biology, Toxicology
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Department of Pharmacology