Qinghua Liu

Affiliation:International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba/National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing

Research Title


Molecular Circuits of Sleep and Fear

01 Research Summary

Sleep exists in virtually all animals and is essential for viability and normal brain functions. However, the molecular circuit of sleep control is currently unknown. My laboratory will integrate biochemical, genetic and chemical biology approach to identify key genes for sleep-wake regulation. We use cutting-edge quantitative mass spectrometry technology to compare whole brain proteomes/phosphoproteomes of Sleepy mutant and sleep-deprived mice to gain novel insights into the molecular basis of homeostatic sleep regulation. On the other hand, fear is a basic emotion that enhances survival by triggering characteristic physiological and behavioral responses. Whereas learned fear is acquired by experience, innate fear is hardwired and genetically encoded. We developed a forward genetic screen to identify randomly mutagenized mice with abnormal innate fear responses. We hope that this unbiased fear screen will allow us to identify core fear genes, elucidate the molecular mechanism of fear, and reveal the genetic basis of human anxiety disorders.


02 Major achievements

Q. Liu et al., Chk1 is an essential kinase that is regulated by Atr and required for the G2/M DNA damage checkpoint. Genes Dev 14: 1448-1459 (2000).

Q. Liu, T. A. Rand, S. Kalidas, F. Du, H. Kim, D.P. Smith, X. Wang, R2D2, a bridge between the initiation and effector steps of the Drosophila RNAi pathway. Science 301:1921-1925. (2003)

Y. Liu, X. Ye, F. Jiang, C. Liang, D. Chen, J. Peng, L.N. Kinch, N.V. Grishin, and Q. Liu. C3PO, an endoribonuclease that promotes RNAi by facilitating RISC activation. Science,325:750-753 (2009)

03 Education/Academic background and major awards


1995 John J. Trentin Award for scholastic excellence Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
2000 Alexander Weng Memorial Award for excellent biomedical research Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
2001-2003 Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellowship Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, New York
2004-2008 W. A. “Tex” Moncrief Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
2005-2007 Damon Runyon Scholar Award Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, New York

Education/Academic background

1988-1992 B.S. Biochemistry, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
1994-2000 Ph.D. Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX


Why did you become a scientist?

Science is fun and transforms people’s lives.

What are the characteristics of your lab?

we strive to do original and high impact science.

What are you most interested in lately

why we sleep? what is fear? plus reading and travel.