Zhi Liu was a NOMIS–Salk Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, US).
Zhi Liu was born in China and obtained his BS in biology in 2009 from Anhui Normal University and his PhD in cell biology in 2016 from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. There he received a Merit Students award and an Outstanding Poster Award. Liu’s doctoral studies focused on the epigenetic regulation of processes that control thymic epithelial cell development and naive CD4 T cells into Th17 cells in the context of autoimmune diseases.
As a NOMIS–Salk Fellow, Liu extended his research to understanding another CD4+ T cell subset—regulatory T cells (Treg), which serve to suppress immune responses to keep the immune system from attacking healthy cells in the body. By taking advantage of the power of high-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) technology, Liu revealed how the three-dimensional configuration of the genome is transformed during Treg cell differentiation and also revealed an underappreciated role of the master regulator Foxp3 in modulating Treg-specific 3D chromatin structure formation. Furthermore, Liu was also fascinated by the noncanonical functions of Treg cells in nonlymphoid tissues and discovered that glucocorticoid signaling can initiate Treg cells and hair follicle stem cells’ crosstalk upon skin injury, which clearly uncovered that Treg cells can regulate tissue stem cell behavior directly to facilitate tissue repair and regeneration, independently of their immune suppressive function.
After finishing his postdoctoral training with Ye Zheng at Salk, Liu established his own laboratory at Shanghai Immune Therapy Institute (SITI, led by the internationally renowned immunologist Chen Dong) at the Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. At SITI, Liu and his group are dissecting the immune and nonimmune functions of CD4+ helper T cells and regulatory T cells in the context of tissue repair and regeneration, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Ultimately, Liu hopes to translate his research from the bench to invent novel therapeutic applications for human diseases.
NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
NOMIS RESEARCH PROJECT