David R. Liu is the Richard Merkin Professor and director of the Merkin Institute of Transformative Technologies in Healthcare, vice chair of the faculty at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator. Liu’s research integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and enable next-generation therapeutics. He graduated first in his class at Harvard College in 1994. During his doctoral research at U. C. Berkeley, Liu initiated the first general effort to expand the genetic code in living cells. He earned his Ph.D. in 1999 and became assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University in the same year. He was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and to full professor in 2005. Liu became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 2005 and joined the JASONs, academic science advisors to the U.S. government, in 2009. Liu has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Science, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 200 papers and is the inventor on more than 75 issued U.S. patents. In 2016 and 2020 Liu was named one of the Top 20 Translational Researchers in the world by Nature Biotechnology, and was named one of Nature?s 10 researchers in world in 2017. He is the scientific founder or co-founder of several biotechnology and therapeutics companies, including Prime Medicine, Beam Therapeutics, Exo Therapeutics, Chroma Medicine, Pairwise Plants, and Editas Medicine.

Research Interests

Liu's research integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and enable next-generation therapeutics. His major research interests include the engineering, evolution, and in vivo delivery of genome editing proteins such as base editors and prime editors to study and treat genetic diseases; the evolution of proteins with novel therapeutic potential using phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE); and the discovery of bioactive synthetic small molecules and synthetic polymers using DNA-templated organic synthesis, DNA-encoded libraries, and Darwinian selection. Base editing (a Science 2017 Breakthrough of the Year finalist), prime editing, PACE, and DNA-templated organic synthesis are four examples of technologies pioneered in Liu?s laboratory.

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Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry