Dr. Qiang Liu (劉强)

B.M. (Beijing Medical University), M.Sc. (University of Toronto)

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Office: 1A-404, 4/F, Block 1, To Yuen Building
Phone: +852 3442-5842
Email: qiangliu@cityu.edu.hk
Web: CityU Scholars
Dr. Qiang Liu

Dr. Liu graduated from Beijing Medical University (currently Peking University Health Science Center) with a B.M. degree in Basic Medical Science and University of Toronto with a M.Sc. in the Program in Neuroscience with Dr. Xian-min Yu at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr. Liu received his postdoctoral training from Dr. Zhao-wen Wang at the University of Connecticut Health Center and Dr. Erik Jorgensen at the University of Utah and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Before joining the faculty of City University of Hong Kong in 2021, Dr. Liu worked as a Research Assistant Professor with Dr. Cori Bargmann in the Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University. Dr. Liu was a recipient of the Grass Fellowship from the Grass Foundation in 2010, a two-time awardee of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute pilot grant from the Kavli Foundation in 2017 and 2020, and the recipient of the Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) Award from the National Science Foundation (USA) in 2021.

Research Interests

The integrated function of the human brain allows every individual human to have unique thoughts, perceptions, memories, and actions. These complex abilities arise from the interconnected neurons in the brain, which acquire information about the world, integrate it with ongoing knowledge and motivational states, and drive subsequent decisions and actions. To mechanistically understand how our brain accomplishes these incredibly sophisticated functions or even one day simulate our brain on a computer is one of the grand challenges of our time. This is a daunting task that requires a comprehensive understanding of a brain at every level of complexity, from molecules to neurons, circuits and systems they form, and the underlying computational principles. Compared to the human brain with approximately 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, the brain of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans has only 302 neurons and several thousand synapses. To reach the ultimate goal of solving our brain, we must first be able to understand and model much simpler brains. At the scale of C. elegans, scientists were able to map the physical wiring of the entire nervous system – the connectome – in the attempt to reconstruct the worm brain. It soon became clear, however, that structure alone did not solve function. Without the knowledge of the cell-type specific biophysical properties of individual neurons and the activity patterns they produce, theorists were unable to generate a unifying model that explained how the “simple” worm brain works. The Liu lab aims to address this problem by comprehensively characterizing biophysical properties of every C. elegans neuronal cell type and constructing highly constrained single-neuron and circuit level models. The long-term goal of the Liu lab is to biophysically map the entire worm brain, reproduce neural activity patterns in different neuron types and neural circuits, and eventually simulate how the worm brain generates behaviors.

Specifically, the research of the Liu lab is focused on the following three fronts:

  • Systematically record from every neuron type in C. elegans using electrophysiology to establish a complete biophysical atlas of the worm brain.
  • Explore the functional significance of diverse biophysical properties in cellular and circuit physiology, neural computation, and animal behavior.
  • Construct conductance-based single-neuron models as well as anatomically and biophysically correct network models to simulate the C. elegans nervous system.

Position Available

We are seeking talented Ph.D students and Research Assistants to join our team. Interested candidates please contact qiangliu@cityu.edu.hk.

Selected Publications

  • Jiang, J.*, Su, Y.*, Zhang, R., Li, H., Tao, L., and Liu, Q. (2022). C. elegans enteric motor neurons fire synchronized action potentials underlying the defecation motor program. Nat Commun 13, 2783. 10.1038/s41467-022-30452-y.
  • Naudin, L., Jimenez Laredo, J.L., Liu, Q., and Corson, N. (2022). Systematic generation of biophysically detailed models with generalization capability for non-spiking neurons. PLoS One 17, e0268380. 10.1371/journal.pone.0268380.
  • Dobosiewicz M., Liu, Q., and Bargmann, C.I. (2019). Reliability of an interneuron response depends on an integrated sensory state. ELife 8, 50566.
  • López-Cruz A., Sordillo A., Pokala N., Liu, Q., McGrath P.T., and Bargmann C.I. (2019). Parallel multimodal circuits control an innate foraging behavior. Neuron 102(2), 107-419 e8.
  • Liu, Q., Kidd P.B., Dobosiewicz M., and Bargmann, C.I. (2018). C. elegans AWA olfactory neurons fire calcium-mediated all-or-none action potentials. Cell 175, 57-70 e17.
  • Larsch, J., Flavell, S.W., Liu, Q., Gordus, A., Albrecht, D.R., and Bargmann, C.I. (2015). A circuit for gradient climbing in C. elegans chemotaxis. Cell Rep 12(11), 1748-60.
  • Liu, Q., Frerck M.J., Holman H.A., Jorgensen, E.M., and Rabbitt R. (2014). Exciting cell membrane with a blustering heat shock. Biophys J 106(8) 1570-7.
  • Pokala, N., Liu, Q., Gordus, A., and Bargmann, C.I. (2014) Inducible and titratable silencing of C. elegans neurons in vivo with histamine-gated chloride channels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111(7):2770-5.
  • Ailion, M., Hannemann, M., Dalton, S., Pappas, A., Watanabe, S., Hegermann, J., Liu, Q., Han, H.F., Gu, M., Goulding, M.Q., Sasidharan, N., Schuske, K., Hullett, P., Eimer, S., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2014). Two Rab2 interactors regulate dense-core vesicle maturation. Neuron 82(1), 167-80.
  • Watanabe, S., Liu, Q., Davis M.W., Hollopeter, G., Thomas, N., Jorgensen, N.B., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2013). Ultrafast endocytosis at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. Elife 2, e00723.
  • Gu, M., Liu, Q., Watanabe, S., Sun, L., Hollopeter, G., Grant, B., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2013) AP2 hemicomplexes contribute independently to synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Elife 2, e00190.
  • Hobson, R.J.*, Liu, Q.* (Co-first authorship), Watanabe, S., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2011). Complexin maintains vesicles in the primed state in C. elegans. Curr biol 21, 106-113.
  • Liu, Q., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2011). Muscle memory (Commentary). J Physiol 589, 775-776
    Comment on: Liu, P., Ge, Q., Chen, B., Salkoff, L., Kotlikoff, M.I., and Wang, Z.W. (2011). J Physiol 589, 101-117.
  • Liu, Q., Hollopeter, G., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2009). Graded synaptic transmission at the Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, 10823-10828.
  • Gu, M., Schuske, K., Watanabe, S., Liu, Q., Baum, P., Garriga, G., and Jorgensen, E.M. (2008). Mu2 adaptin facilitates but is not essential for synaptic vesicle recycling in Caenorhabditis elegans.J Cell Biol 183, 881-892.
  • Chen, B.*, Liu, Q.* (Co-first authorship), Ge, Q.*, Xie, J., and Wang, Z.W. (2007). UNC-1 regulates gap junctions important to locomotion in C. elegans. Curr Biol 17, 1334-1339.
    Commentary: Norman, K.R., and Maricq, A.V. (2007). Innexin function: minding the gap junction. Curr Biol 17, R812-814.
  • Liu, Q., Chen, B., Hall, D.H., and Wang, Z.W. (2007). A quantum of neurotransmitter causes minis in multiple postsynaptic cells at the Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. Dev Neurobiol 67, 123-128.
  • Liu, Q.*, Chen, B.*, Ge, Q.*, and Wang, Z.W. (2007). Presynaptic Ca2+/calmodulin- dependent protein kinase II modulates neurotransmitter release by activating BK channels at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. J Neurosci 27, 10404-10413.
  • Liu, Q.*, Chen, B.*, Gaier, E., Joshi, J., and Wang, Z.W. (2006). Low conductance gap junctions mediate specific electrical coupling in body-wall muscle cells of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Biol Chem 281, 7881-7889.
  • Mahoney, T.R., Liu, Q., Itoh, T., Luo, S., Hadwiger, G., Vincent, R., Wang, Z.W., Fukuda, M., and Nonet, M.L. (2006). Regulation of synaptic transmission by RAB-3 and RAB-27 in Caenorhabditis elegans. Mol Biol Cell 17, 2617-2625.
  • Liu, Q., Chen, B., Yankova, M., Morest, D.K., Maryon, E., Hand, A.R., Nonet, M.L., and Wang, Z.W. (2005). Presynaptic ryanodine receptors are required for normal quantal size at the Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. J Neurosci 25, 6745-6754.
  • Deken, S.L., Vincent, R., Hadwiger, G., Liu, Q., Wang, Z.W., and Nonet, M.L. (2005). Redundant localization mechanisms of RIM and ELKS in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 25, 5975-5983.
  • Lei, G., Xue, S., Chery, N., Liu, Q., Xu, J., Kwan, C.L., Fu, Y.P., Lu, Y.M., Liu, M., Harder, K.W., et al. (2002). Gain control of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activity by receptor-like protein tyrosine phosphatase alpha. EMBO J 21, 2977-2989

  • * equal authorship