Laboratory of Ying Liu, M.D., Ph.D.


Liu laboratory has been pursuing basic and translational research in the following two areas:

  • Stem cell biology and regenerative medicine
  • Pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease and CNS injury

Our research entails the use of combined genetic and molecular and cellular biological approaches applied to in vitro and in vivo models. We focus on dissecting the developmental pathways and the corresponding pathogenesis in the neural lineage, specifically for spinal cord injury, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Our long-term goal is to identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Ying Liu is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and a Research Scientist at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute.

Dr. Liu is a fellowship-trained investigator whose research focuses on the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to model central nervous system (CNS) development and diseases. By differentiating and genetically manipulating hESCs and iPSCs, Dr. Liu hopes to dissect the development pathways and corresponding pathogenesis in the neural lineage. Her aim is to identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Liu earned her medical degree at Peking University Health Science Center in China, where her primary clinical interest was the molecular diagnosis of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She received her Ph.D. in neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah, where she investigated the development of glia and glial precursors. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in gene targeting in hESCs at the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

Before joining The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Mischer Neuroscience Institute, she was an assistant project scientist in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, with a concomitant appointment as a professional scientific collaborator at the Center for Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Chemical Physiology at the Scripps Research Institute. She has also held clinical and research positions at the Peking University First Hospital in China and was senior scientist for primary and stem cell systems at Invitrogen, a division of Life Technologies Corporation.

Dr. Liu’s research has been presented and published widely. She has co-authored articles that have appeared in Stem CellsStem Cells and DevelopmentNature ProtocolsCancer ResearchGliaNeuroscienceJournal of NeurochemistryClinical Neuroscience ResearchDevelopmental BiologyJournal of Cellular BiochemistryDevelopmental Dynamics, and Nature Genetics, among other journals. Her long-term goal as an investigator is to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of neural differentiation with the aim of translating this knowledge into novel therapeutic strategies for neural repair and protection.


Ying Liu, MD, Assistant Professor
Shenglan Li, MD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Min Zhao, MD, Research Associate
Haipeng Xue, Research Associate
Seung Ho Yang, Visiting scholar
Anqi Zhang, Visiting scholar


  1. Xue, H., Wu, S., Papadeas, S., Spusta, S., Swistowska, A. M., MacArthur, C. C., Mattson, M. P., Maragakis, N. J., Capecchi, M., Rao, M. S., Zeng, X., and Liu, Y. (2009). A targeted neuroglial reporter line generated by homologous recombination in human embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells, 27, 1836-1846
  2. MacArthur, C. C., Xue, H., Van Hoof, D., Lieu, P., Dudas, M., Fontes, A., Andrzej Swistowski, A., Seerke, R., German, M.S., Zeng X., Rao, M. S., Lakshmipathy, U., Chesnut, J. D., and Liu, Y. (2011). Chromatin insulator elements block transgene silencing in engineered hESC lines. Stem Cells Dev Aug 4 [Epub ahead of print].
  3. Liu, Y*., Jiang, P., and Deng, W*. (2011) Olig gene targeting in human pluripotent stem cells for motor neuron and oligodendrocyte differentiation. Nat Prot 6(5):640-655 (*corresponding authors)
  4. Xue H, Wu J, Li S, Rao MS, Liu Y. (2014) Genetic modification in human pluripotent stem cells by homologous recombination and CRISPR/Cas9 System. Methods Mol Biol. 2014 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24615461
  5. Chen, C., Jiang, P., Xue, H., Peterson, S., Tran, H.T., McCann, A., Parast, M., Li, S., Pleasure, D.E., Laurent, L.C., Loring, J. F., Liu, Y.*, and Deng, W*. (2014) Role of astroglia in Down Syndrome revealed by patient-derived human induced pluripotent stem cells. Nat Commun. (*corresponding authors) Jul 18;5:4430. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5430
  6. Li, S., Xue, H., Long, B., Sun, L., Truong, T., and Liu, Y. (2015) Efficient generation of hiPSC neural lineage specific knockin reporters using the CRISPR/Cas9 and Cas9 double nickase system. J Vis Exp. e52539, doi:10.3791/52539.
  7. Li, S, Xue, H, Wu JB, Rao, MS, Kim, DH, Deng, W, and Liu, Y. (2015) Human iPSC NEUROG2 dual knockin reporter lines generated by the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Stem Cell and Dev. E pub ahead of print. September 28, 2015.
  8. Liu, Y*. and Deng W. (2015) Reverse Engineering Human Neurodegenerative Disease Using Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology. Brain Res. E pub ahead of print. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.09.023 (*corresponding author).
  9. Zhai L, Wang, L, Teng, F, Zhou, L, Zhang, W, Xiao, J., Liu, Y*, and Deng, W*. Argonaute and Argonaute-bound small RNAs in stem cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 208; doi:10.3390/ijms17020208. (*corresponding authors)