David R. Liu

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Professor of Chemistry
and Chemical Biology

Harvard College Professor


12 Oxford Street
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 496-1067 (work)
(617) 496-5688 (fax)

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, and a Senior Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Liu graduated first in his class at Harvard in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry before entering the Ph.D. program at U. C. Berkeley. He performed research on sterol biosynthesis under Professor E. J. Corey's guidance throughout his undergraduate years. In the group of Professor Peter Schultz, 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 was also appointed as 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 in 2007, the Roslyn Abramson Award in 2003, and a Harvard College Professorship in 2007. Liu has published more than 120 papers in chemical biology, molecular biology, and organic chemistry. His research accomplishments have earned distinctions including the American Chemical Society Pure Chemistry Award (2006) and the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award (2004). Professor Liu’s research integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and enable next-generation therapeutics. His major research interests include (i) the evolution, intracellular delivery, and characterization of proteins with novel therapeutic potential; (ii) the characterization and engineering of genome-editing proteins; and (iii) the discovery of therapeutically relevant synthetic molecules and synthetic polymers through DNA-templated organic synthesis, an approach developed in his laboratory.