Research Faculty

Wensheng Liu, Ph.D, Research Assistant Professor.

Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from University of Buffalo. He completed his postdoctoral training in Roswell Park Cancer Institute. His research was focused on the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer. Dr. Liu joined our research laboratory in July, 2009. His research interests include the molecular pathogenesis and non-invasive biomarkers of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis.

Lixin Zhu, PhD, Assistant Professor Dr. Zhu is responsible for the overall administration and direction of all the research projects.

After graduation from Nankai University, a top research university in China, Dr. Zhu was accepted into the graduate program in Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With his mentors, Professors Guang-Di Li and Yuan Wang, he studied the molecular virology of hepatitis C and developed attenuated live-viral vaccines against hepatitis C, using the modified vaccinia virus Ankara stain as the vector. In this collaborative work, he, Professor Wang’s group and Dr. Gerd Sutter’s group (then in the Institute for Molecular Virology, GSF, Munich, Germany) demonstrated that the invented vaccines are able to elicit protective humoral and cellular immune responses targeting hepatitis C antigens in a murine model.

Dr. Zhu's postdoc research was about gastric parietal cells. His major work was focused on a phosphoprotein called ezrin. This protein is discovered in parietal cell(4) and other cells almost simultaneously. Using FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) technique, he studied ezrin conformation in a relatively native state. With his mentor Dr. John G. Forte (University of California, Berkeley), he demonstrated how ezrin phosphorylation regulates the conformation and activity of this protein and the effects on parietal cell acid secretion. His discovery that ezrin phosphorylation is underwent fast turnover may shed light on similar phosphorylation events in different model systems. Besides this, he also participated in the studies of parietal cell membrane trafficking, in collaboration with Dr. Serhan Karvar (University of Southern California).

Dr. Zhu's current research interests have expanded from gastric parietal cell into the whole GI tract. Together with the dedicated M.D. researchers (Dr. R. Baker, Dr. S. Baker, Dr. H. Hashmi, Dr. D. Gelfond) in DDNC, he has the ambition to identify biomarkers for NASH and other GI diseases, to better understand the pathophysiology of these diseases for better diagnosis and treatments.