Yong Liu, PhD

Yong Liu, PhD

Assistant Professor


  • Physiology

Contact Information


MS, Bioinformatics, Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin, 2016
PhD, Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, 2005

Research Interests

Common complex diseases such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease involve many endogenous molecules, as well as exogenous environmental factors. My research focuses on using techniques of molecular biology, cellular biology, and bioinformatics to systematically study complex interactions of the biological system. Understanding biological systems will help us understand how the disease develops, and importantly, how we can attenuate the development of the disease.

With Dahl salt sensitive rats as a model, we have shown that important genes such as 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 (11β-HSD1) (PMID: 18826995, 18716005) and fumarate hydratase 1 (Fh1) (PMID: 19546378) contribute to the development of hypertension and renal damage.

microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding endogenous RNAs that can regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally through binding with the 3-UTR region of mRNA. Through targeting a large set of collagens and collagen related genes, miRNA-29 plays a critical role in the regulation of renal medullary fibrosis (PMID: 20194304). Renal miR-214 plays a functional and potentially genetic role in the development of hypertension through targeting endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) (PMID: 30049682).

Data from twin studies suggest that there are only 25% to 68% heritability of systolic/diastolic blood pressure and hypertension. Epigenetics, such as DNA methylation, which change gene expression without altering the genomic DNA, has been shown to play important role in determining an individual’s risk of hypertension. With a modified Reduced-Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS) technique, we established the first base-resolution maps of 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in hypertension (PMID: 24420542). Our recent study provided evidence that DNA de novo (de)methylation in the kidney contributes to salt-induced hypertension (in press).

Building on these findings and experience, my current research continues to explore genetic, epigenetic and molecular mechanisms of hypertension and other diseases.