Jia Liu, Ph.D.

  • Director, Epigenetics Facility
  • Director, Rodent Behavioral Analysis Suite
  • Research Associate Professor, Neuroscience Initiative

Dr. Liu received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Wesleyan University with the focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair in neuronal excitotoxicity and epilepsy. Following her graduate study, she joined Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as a postdoctoral fellow. Her postdoctoral work used cutting-edge genetic and epigenetic techniques and has characterized extensively the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating myelination and oligodendrocyte development in the central nervous system in physiological conditions as well as the underlying cause for remyelination failure in multiple sclerosis. Following her postdoctoral training, she became a Research Assistant Professor at the Friedman Brain Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her current research focus is to understand the functional role of oligodendrocytes and myelination in psychiatric disorders and their causal role in psychiatric symptoms experienced by individuals with demyelinating diseases.

Research Interests

The goal of her research is to provide better understanding of the environmental impact through neural-glia interplay on psychiatric disorders. She uses animal models combined with molecular tools to identify ways stress change gene expression in the brain and lead to depressive-like symptoms. She has demonstrated that the impaired myelination and transcriptional response preceded and accompany the behavioral consequences in stress-induced depressive-like behavior using rodent models of depression. She has also defined the mechanisms associated with impaired epigenetic regulation in oligodendrocyte as the driving force for abnormalities in these models. This body of work has changed the traditional view of oligodendrocyte function in depression and serves as the principal foundation of her laboratory.


A. Flury, L. Aljayousi, S. Aziz, H.-J. Park, M. Khakpour, C. Sandberg, F. G. Ibáñez, O. Braniff, P. Deme, J. D. McGrath, T. Ngo, J. Mechler, D. M. Ramirez, D. Avnon-Klein, J. W. Murray, J. Liu, N. J. Haughey, S. Werneburg, M.-È. Tremblay, P. Ayata. Integrated Stress Response Associated with Dark Microglia Promotes Microglial Lipogenesis and Contributes to Neurodegeneration. preprint.

M. Caldwell, V. Ayo-Jibunoh, J. C. Mendoza, K. R. Brimblecombe, L. M. Reynolds, X. Y. Zhu Jiang, C. Alarcon, E. Fiore, J. N. Tomaio, G. R. Phillips, S. Mingote, C. Flores, P. Casaccia, J. Liu, S. J. Cragg, D. P. McCloskey, L. Yetnikoff. Axo-Glial Interactions between Midbrain Dopamine Neurons and Oligodendrocyte Lineage Cells in the Anterior Corpus Callosum. Brain Struct Funct, 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-023-02695-y.

I. Kadam, M. Dalloul, J. Hausser, M. Huntley, L. Hoepner, L. Fordjour, J. Hittelman, A. Saxena, J. Liu, I. D. Futterman, H. Minkoff, X. Jiang. Associations between Nutrients in One-Carbon Metabolism and Fetal DNA Methylation in Pregnancies with or without Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Clin Epigenet, 2023, 15 (1), 137. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13148-023-01554-1.

R. Ravenelle, C. Fernandes-Henriques, J. Lee, J. Liu, E. Likhtik, N. S. Burghardt. Serotonergic Modulation of the BNST-CeA Circuit Promotes Sex Differences in Fear Learning. preprint. bioRxiv, 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.03.547577.

J. Buthmann, D. Huang, P. Casaccia, S. O’Neill, Y. Nomura, J. Liu. Prenatal Exposure to a Climate-Related Disaster Results in Changes of the Placental Transcriptome and Infant Temperament. Frontiers in Genetics, 2022, 13.

F. Cathomas, L. M. Holt, E. M. Parise, J. Liu, J. W. Murrough, P. Casaccia, E. J. Nestler, S. J. Russo. Beyond the Neuron: Role of Non-Neuronal Cells in Stress Disorders. Neuron, 2022, S0896-6273(22)00102-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2022.01.033.

H. W. Korsmo, B. Dave, S. Trasino, A. Saxena, J. Liu, J. M. Caviglia, K. Edwards, M. Dembitzer, S. Sheeraz, S. Khaldi, X. Jiang. Maternal Choline Supplementation and High-Fat Feeding Interact to Influence DNA Methylation in Offspring in a Time-Specific Manner. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2022, 9.

T. Roostaei, H.-U. Klein, Y. Ma, D. Felsky, P. Kivisäkk, S. M. Connor, A. Kroshilina, C. Yung, B. J. Kaskow, X. Shao, B. Rhead, J. M. Ordovás, D. M. Absher, D. K. Arnett, J. Liu, N. Patsopoulos, L. F. Barcellos, H. L. Weiner, P. L. De Jager. Proximal and Distal Effects of Genetic Susceptibility to Multiple Sclerosis on the T Cell Epigenome. Nat Commun, 2021, 12 (1), 7078. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27427-w.

D. Chang, Q. Brown, G. Tsui, Y. He, J. Liu, L. Shi, A. Rodríguez-Contreras. Distinct Cellular Profiles of Hif1a and Vegf MRNA Localization in Microglia, Astrocytes and Neurons during a Period of Vascular Maturation in the Auditory Brainstem of Neonate Rats. Brain Sciences, 2021, 11 (7), 944. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070944.

Z. Li, M. Moniruzzaman, R. M. Dastgheyb, S.-W. Yoo, M. Wang, H. Hao, J. Liu, P. Casaccia, C. Nogueras-Ortiz, D. Kapogiannis, B. S. Slusher, N. J. Haughey. Astrocytes Deliver CK1 to Neurons via Extracellular Vesicles in Response to Inflammation Promoting the Translation and Amyloidogenic Processing of APP. J Extracell Vesicles, 2020, 10 (2), e12035. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jev2.12035.

J. Liu, E. Likhtik, A. D. Shereen, T. A. Dennis-Tiwary, P. Casaccia. White Matter Plasticity in Anxiety: Disruption of Neural Network Synchronization During Threat-Safety Discrimination. Front Cell Neurosci, 2020, 14, 587053. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2020.587053.

J. Qiu, P. Singh, G. Pan, A. de Paolis, F. A. Champagne, J. Liu, L. Cardoso, A. Rodríguez-Contreras. Defining the Relationship between Maternal Care Behavior and Sensory Development in Wistar Rats: Auditory Periphery Development, Eye Opening and Brain Gene Expression. PLoS ONE, 2020, 15 (8), e0237933. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237933.

Samudyata, G. Castelo‐Branco, J. Liu. Epigenetic Regulation of Oligodendrocyte Differentiation: From Development to Demyelinating Disorders. Glia, 2020, glia.23820. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/glia.23820.

V. Bonnefil, K. Dietz, M. Amatruda, M. Wentling, A.V. Aubry, J.L. Dupree, G. Temple, H.J. Park, N.S. Burghardt, P. Casaccia, J. Liu. Region-specific myelin differences define behavioral consequences of chronic social defeat stress in mice. ELife, 2019, 8. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.40855.001. Podcast: https://elifesciences.org/podcast/episode60#933.

L.L. Boshans, D.C. Factor, V. Singh, J. Liu, C. Zhao, I. Mandoiu, Q.R. Lu, P. Casaccia, P.J. Tesar, A. Nishiyama. The Chromatin Environment Around Interneuron Genes in Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells and Their Potential for Interneuron Reprograming. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2019, 13. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00829

A. Ntranos, V. Ntranos, V. Bonnefil, J. Liu, S. Kim-Schulze, Y. He, Y. Zhu, R. Brandstadter, C.T. Watson, A.J. Sharp, I. Katz Sand, P. Casaccia. Fumarates target the metabolic-epigenetic interplay of brain-homing T cells in multiple sclerosis. Brain, 2019, 142(3), 647-661. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awy344

V. Aubry, H. Khandaker, R. Ravenelle, I. S. Grunfeld, V. Bonnefil, K. L. Chan, F. Cathomas, J. Liu, G. E. Schafe, N. S. Burghardt. A Diet Enriched with Curcumin Promotes Resilience to Chronic Social Defeat Stress. Neuropsychopharmacol, 2019, 44 (4), 733–742. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0295-2.

J. Liu, K. Dietz, G.E. Hodes, S.J. Russo, P. Casaccia. Widespread transcriptional alternations in oligodendrocytes in the adult mouse brain following chronic stress. Developmental neurobiology, 2018 Feb;78(2):152-162.. DOI: doi.org/10.1002/dneu.22533

J. Liu, S. Moyon, M. Hernandez, P. Casaccia. Epigenetic control of oligodendrocyte development: adding new players to old keepers. Current opinion in neurobiology, 2016 Aug;39:133-8.. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2016.06.002

B.M. Laitman, L. Asp, J.N. Mariani, J. Zhang, J. Liu, S. Sawai, C. Chapouly, S. Horng, E.G. Kramer, N. Mitiku, H. Loo, N. Burlant, X. Pedre, Y. Hara, G. Nudelman, E. Zaslavsky, Y. Lee, D.A. Braun, Q.R. Lu, G. Narla, C.S. Raine, S.L. Friedman, P. Casaccia, G.R. John. The Transcriptional Activator Krüppel-like Factor-6 Is Required for CNS Myelination. PLoS biology, 2016 May 23;14(5):e1002467.. DOI: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002467

J. Liu, J.L. Dupree, M. Gacias, R. Frawley, T. Sikder, P. Naik, P. Casaccia. Clemastine Enhances Myelination in the Prefrontal Cortex and Rescues Behavioral Changes in Socially Isolated Mice. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2016 Jan 20;36(3):957-62. DOI: doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.3608-15.2016

J. Liu, L. Magri, F. Zhang, N.O. Marsh, S. Albrecht, J.L. Huynh, J. Kaur, T. Kuhlmann, W. Zhang, P.A. Slesinger, P. Casaccia. Chromatin landscape defined by repressive histone methylation during oligodendrocyte differentiation. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2015 Jan 7;35(1):352-65. DOI: doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.2606-14.2015

R. Bharadwaj, Y. Jiang, W. Mao, M. Jakovcevski, A. Dincer, W. Krueger, K. Garbett, C. Whittle, J.S. Tushir, J. Liu, A. Sequeira, M.P. Vawter, P.D. Gardner, P. Casaccia, T. Rasmussen, W.E.B. Jr, K. Mirnics, K. Futai, S. Akbarian. Conserved chromosome 2q31 conformations are associated with transcriptional regulation of GAD1 GABA synthesis enzyme and altered in prefrontal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2013 Jul 17;33(29):11839-51.. DOI: doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.1252-13.2013

J. Liu, K. Dietz, J.M. DeLoyht, X. Pedre, D. Kelkar, J. Kaur, V. Vialou, M.K. Lobo, D.M. Dietz, E.J. Nestler, J. Dupree, P. Casaccia. Impaired adult myelination in the prefrontal cortex of socially isolated mice. Nature neuroscience, 2012 Dec;15(12):1621-3.. DOI: doi.org/10.1038/nn.3263

O.G. Vidaurre, J. Liu, J. Haines, J. Sandoval, R. Nowakowski, P. Casaccia. An integrated approach to design novel therapeutic interventions for demyelinating disorders. The European journal of neuroscience, 2012 Jun;35(12):1879-86.. DOI: doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08118.x

J. Liu, J. Sandoval, S.T. Doh, L. Cai, G. López-Rodas, P. Casaccia. Epigenetic modifiers are necessary but not sufficient for reprogramming non-myelinating cells into myelin gene-expressing cells. PloS one, 2010 Sep 27;5(9):e13023.. DOI: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013023

J. Liu, P. Casaccia. Epigenetic regulation of oligodendrocyte identity. Trends in neurosciences, 2010 Apr;33(4):193-201.. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2010.01.007

M. Neema, I. Navarro-Quiroga, M. Chechlacz, K. Gilliams-Francis, J. Liu, K. Lamonica, S.L. Lin, J.R. Naegele. DNA damage and nonhomologous end joining in excitotoxicity: neuroprotective role of DNA-PKcs in kainic acid-induced seizures. Hippocampus, 2005;15(8):1057-71. DOI: doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20123

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