David R. Liu

Richard Merkin Professor and Director of the Merkin Institute of Transformative Technologies in Healthcare

Broad Institute Core Institute Member and Vice-Chair of the Faculty

Director of the Chemical Biology and Therapeutic Sciences Program

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Harvard University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology


75 Ames Street
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
Cambridge, MA 02142

(617) 714-8650 (office)
(617) 714-8808 (direct)

email Prof. Liu


Professor Liu's CV and list of publications (pdf)

Group research summary (pdf)



David R. Liu is Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a Core Institute Member and Vice-Chair of the Faculty of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and an Associate Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Liu graduated first in his class at Harvard in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He performed synthetic organic and bioorganic chemistry research on sterol biosynthesis under Professor E. J. Corey's guidance throughout his undergraduate years. During his Ph.D. research in the group of Professor Peter Schultz 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 advisors to the U.S. government on science and technology, in 2009.

Liu has earned several university-wide distinctions for undergraduate and graduate student teaching at Harvard, including the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, the Roslyn Abramson Award, and a Harvard College Professorship. He has published more than 130 papers and more than 45 issued patents. His research accomplishments have earned distinctions including the American Chemical Society Pure Chemistry Award, the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award, and awards from the Sloan Foundation, Beckman Foundation, NSF CAREER Program, and Searle Scholars Program. Professor Liu's research integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and enable next-generation therapeutics. His major research interests include (i) the evolution of proteins with novel therapeutic potential using methods including phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE); (ii) the engineering and delivery of genome-editing proteins to study and treat genetic diseases; and (iii) the discovery of therapeutically relevant synthetic small molecules and synthetic polymers through DNA-templated organic synthesis, an approach developed in his laboratory. He is the scientific founder of Ensemble Therapeutics, the scientific founder of Permeon Biologics, and the co-founder of Editas Medicine, in addition to serving on scientific advisory boards of other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.