Liu Lab Research

                          Research Cycle in the Liu Lab

My primary research interest is understanding how gene expression is controlled. Humans have ~20,000 genes, but they are not all “on” at the same time, nor are they all “off” at the same time. Proper regulation of turning “on” and “off” genes is what can distinguish a healthy cell from a diseased one. In trying to understand this process, I have chosen to focus on the role of non-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs) as regulators. The overarching goal of my research program is to understand, at a molecular level, how RNAs can regulate gene expression. I use a model organism for my investigations: the bacterial pathogen, Vibrio cholerae, and my research examines how RNA regulators may affect the ability of the bacteria to adapt and persist in a variety of environments. In addition to these basic science questions, I am also interested in applying knowledge about how RNAs work in nature to create in the laboratory new RNAs with novel function. For example, one part of my research group is focused on creating RNA-based sensors for small molecules.