Dr. Liu is interested in understanding the anti-obesity neurocircuitry in the brain including the functional role of NMDARs/dendritic spine-driven plasticity in feeding circuitry and brain regulation of peripheral tissues.  He uses conditional, neuron-specific genetic engineering techniques (Cre/loxP recombination) to regulate gene expression in the mouse brain. Dr. Liu completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Bradford Lowell at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School prior to his joining Dr. Joel Elmquist as a postdoctoral fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2012.  Dr. Liu holds a B.Sc. from Jilin University and a PhD from the University of Toronto.

Research Interest

  • Conditional, neuron-specific genetic engineering techniques (Cre/loxP recombination)
  • Cre expressing mice and LoxP-flanked (floxed) mice generation
  • Dendritic spine density studies
  • DREADD technology for rapid, reversible, and remote control of the activity of neurons
  • Regulation of energy balance and glucose hemeostasis


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Xbp1s in Pomc Neurons Connects ER Stress with Energy Balance and Glucose Homeostasis.
Williams KW, Liu T, Kong X, Fukuda M, Deng Y, Berglund ED, Deng Z, Gao Y, Liu T, Sohn JW, Jia L, Fujikawa T, Kohno D, Scott MM, Lee S, Lee CE, Sun K, Chang Y, Scherer PE, Elmquist JK Cell Metab. 2014 Jul
IRF4 Is a Key Thermogenic Transcriptional Partner of PGC-1a.
Kong X, Banks A, Liu T, Kazak L, Rao RR, Cohen P, Wang X, Yu S, Lo JC, Tseng YH, Cypess AM, Xue R, Kleiner S, Kang S, Spiegelman BM, Rosen ED Cell 2014 Jul 158 1 69-83
Melanocortin 4 receptors in autonomic neurons regulate thermogenesis and glycemia.
Berglund ED, Liu T, Kong X, Sohn JW, Vong L, Deng Z, Lee CE, Lee S, Williams KW, Olson DP, Scherer PE, Lowell BB, Elmquist JK Nat. Neurosci. 2014 Jul 17 7 911-3
Serotonin 2C receptors in pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate energy and glucose homeostasis.
Berglund ED, Liu C, Sohn JW, Liu T, Kim MH, Lee CE, Vianna CR, Williams KW, Xu Y, Elmquist JK J. Clin. Invest. 2013 Dec 123 12 5061-70
Mrap2: an accessory protein linked to obesity.
Liu T, Elmquist JK, Williams KW Cell Metab. 2013 Sep 18 3 309-11
Melanocortin 4 receptors reciprocally regulate sympathetic and parasympathetic preganglionic neurons.
Sohn JW, Harris LE, Berglund ED, Liu T, Vong L, Lowell BB, Balthasar N, Williams KW, Elmquist JK Cell 2013 Jan 152 3 612-9
Fasting activation of AgRP neurons requires NMDA receptors and involves spinogenesis and increased excitatory tone.
Liu T, Kong D, Shah BP, Ye C, Koda S, Saunders A, Ding JB, Yang Z, Sabatini BL, Lowell BB Neuron 2012 Feb 73 3 511-22
Effects on conformational states of the rabbit sodium/glucose cotransporter through modulation of polarity and charge at glutamine 457.
Liu T, Krofchick D, Silverman M Biophys. J. 2009 Jan 96 2 748-60
Reanalysis of structure/function correlations in the region of transmembrane segments 4 and 5 of the rabbit sodium/glucose cotransporter.
Liu T, Speight P, Silverman M Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 2009 Jan 378 1 133-8
Transmembrane IV of the high-affinity sodium-glucose cotransporter participates in sugar binding.
Liu T, Lo B, Speight P, Silverman M Am. J. Physiol., Cell Physiol. 2008 Jul 295 1 C64-72

Honors & Awards

  • NCRP Winter 2014 Scientist Development Award
    American Heart Association (2014)
  • Young Investigator Travel Grant Award
    American Diabetes Association (2014)
  • Dr. Anna Shawyer Scholarships
    University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (2007)
  • Government of Ontario/Dr. Arnie Aberman Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology
    University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (2006)
  • University of Toronto Open Fellowship Award
    University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (2002)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Heart Association (2013)
  • Canadian Diabetes Association (2010)