Huiping Liu, MD, PhD
Photo: Huiping Liu



Elected 2023

Dr. Huiping Liu received her medical degree (M.D.) and M.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology in China, and then obtained a Ph.D. in cancer biology at the University of Chicago in 2006. After her  postdoctoral training in cancer stem cells and microRNAs with Dr. Michael Clarke at Stanford University and Dr. Geoffrey Greene at the University of Chicago, Dr. Liu was appointed to Assistant Professor of Pathology launching her independent research program at Case Western Reserve University in 2013. Since relocation to Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2017, Dr. Liu has been Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine (Division of Hematology and Oncology). She is a cancer biologist investigating the molecular mechanisms of cancer stem cells -circulating tumor stem cell clusters -mediated metastasis and immune modulation, developing anti-tumor and antiviral therapeutics (exosomes and antibodies) using machine learning-assisted modeling and experimental validation. Her research makes cross-disciplinary breakthroughs with cutting-edge technologies such as single-cell and single-vesicle proteomics and next generation exosome biologic platform for targeted therapy. 

One of Dr. Liu's major discoveries is demonstration for the first time that circulating tumor cells (CTC) with stem cell properties can aggregate into clusters for increased colonization in cancer metastasis.  Dr. Liu and colleagues have challenged the dogma of single CTC-mediated metastasis with convincing evidence of multicellular CTC cluster-induced metastasis utilizing intravital imaging, immuno-histochemistry staining of in-situ CTCs within vasculatures of tissue sections, FDA-approved CellSearch platform, and flow cytometry analyses as well as functional advantages of CTC cluster-mediated metastasis in patient-derived xenografts.  Dr. Liu has identified multiple cancer stem cell surface protein markers, such as CD44, CD81, and ICAM1, that mediate tumor cell adhesion and cluster formation through intercellular protein-protein interactions. These discoveries have been published in high impact scientific journal Cancer Discovery (2019), Nature Communications (2021) and eLife (2022) with high citations and well recognition.

Dr. Liu has made out-of-box scientific progress by harnessing cutting technologies in biomedical research. Dr. Liu has specifically advanced the applications of machine learning-assisted protein structural modeling in designing protein variants and peptide mutations to not only elucidate molecular mechanisms responsible for protein interactions, but also to improve neutralizing functions of therapeutic antibodies against cancer stem cells and viral pathogens (SARS-CoV-2).  Dr. Liu and colleagues have established single-cell proteomics in elucidating the heterogeneity of CTCs and are advancing the 3-dimentional spatial multiomic mapping of human tissues, normal and malignant, up to single cell and sub-cellular levels. at metastatic cancer cells. Future studies are poised to harness the power of computation science, deep learning, and artificial intelligence into biomedical discoveries and breakthrough applications.