Dr. Huiping Liu's Lab

Halloween 2020: Superheros wear masks!

The Liu Lab Hero’s celebrated Halloween this year fully masked up. The Halloween festivities were organized by our very own Erika Ramos to be fun, safe, and spooky!

The Liu Lab Heros!
Winners of the Jack-o-Lantern cup stack race celebrating their victory.
Our Incredible leader! I thought Edna said no capes…
Post-doc Nurmaa (and her super little helper) won the costume contest!
Yuzhi, Paolo, and Lamiaa are the masked mummies!
Thank you, Erika, for putting together a safe and fun event!

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DOD Research Highlight

Check out our latest research highlight on the US Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs page. The story talks about the groups work in circulating tumor cell clustering.

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Special Covid-19 Update

Just a quick update from the Liu Lab on the global pandemic:

Lab members have been staying home and staying safe. Those lab heroes that are continuing to perform essential work are taking extra precautions and practicing social distancing in the lab. The lab is continuing to have meetings and strategize. In our last lab meeting, we had a special guest lecturer deliver a comprehensive overview of the current Covid-19 crisis: Covid-19 Update

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 5.43.44 PMNeale, 7, did all of the research and assembled this presentation all by himself! He is a brilliant young scientist and we are honored to have him as part of Liu Cluster!

Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe!

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*COVID-19 Lab Guidelines*

Liu Lab Guidelines on COVID-19

(March 2020)

Taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 will save the life of one or more people you know.

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

“The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet or 1-2 meters).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”

Precautions Liu Cluster members must take (PPSS):

  1. Physical Protection:

WEAR a facial mask (reusable), glasses, gloves (reusable) whenever in close contact (<6 feet) with others, during public transportation or within the lab (or avoid crowds if you can). Any mask can reduce 80% chances of virus spread. REUSE masks/gloves after UV/70% ethanol sterilizing or wash masks if washable (60°C water 10 mins).

WEAR lab coats and wash it every week or more frequently if you can.

DISINFECT any surfaces/buttons/switches with 70% ethanol/disinfectant you may touch, both at home and in the lab, including benches, chairs, door handles, computer keyboard, mouse, conference room table, kitchen (microwave), food fridge, and eating areas.

DISINFECT lab equipment: Microscope oculars.  Wipe off microscope nobs and eye pieces with 70% ethanol or disinfectant. Disinfect your gloves with 70% ethanol when using.  Same with PCR machines and other lab common items.  Wipe down doors of refrigerators etc.

Stay in clean, open, and well-ventilated environments. Keep your room ventilated with lab doors open.

  1. Personal Hygiene:

Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds before you eat and as frequently as you can.

Sanitize your hands with 70% alcohol sanitizers, whenever (prior to) you arrive to lab/home, before you eat, before you touch your face, after you touch any public surfaces, and as frequently as possible.

Prepare food with gloves and disinfect your dishes with detergent/hot water. Have hot meals. No hand-food.

NEVER share open food/meals or drinks with others including your family members. Eat separately in distance.

  1. Social distance:

Keep distance (1-2 meters apart) to anybody you may encounter in the public or in the lab. No hand shaking.

Avoid public transit if you can. Drive, walk, or cycle to work. Avoid attending big gatherings. Avoid restaurants.

We provide options of online lab meetings and journal club.

Coordinate with lab members if you prefer afternoon/evening hours or weekend shifts (do not work alone).

Avoid travels or airports. If you return from any airports, we suggest a 2-week “self-quarantine”.

Stay home and seek medical care if you are sick.

  1. Strengthen your immune system:

Eat healthy food, vegetables and fresh fruits (high Vit C).

Have good quality sleep.

Exercise if you can. Walk or cycle …J

NO Alcohol, no smoking. Both impair your immune system.

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Holiday Celebrations 2019

This year, the Liu Lab celebrated a year of hard work and accomplishments with a fun lunch in the city and some awesome matching jackets! Mission, Passion, Creation– words to research by!IMG_4916IMG_9786

Lunch with the lab, collaborators, and support staff– many people who make this research possible!


Winter in Chicago is beautiful!


Liu Cluster apparel– limited release, 2019.


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Halloween 2019

This year, the Liu Lab got spooky and had a costume contest! The theme was animals. While Erika’s werewolf costume for the most votes (congrats!), everyone had a great time. We really brought a new meaning to animal research…IMG_4628

The Liu Lab zoo!


^ Congrats to Erika!

Minnie sisters

Who wore it best?


Lab meetings are always this funny.


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Lurie Cancer Center Symposium 2019

Grad students from the Liu Lab presented their research at the 2019 Lurie Cancer Center Symposium and Scientific Poster Session. Lab member Rokana Taftaf won the Cancer Biology Cluster Travel Award for her poster on “The Role of ICAM1 in Breast Cancer Stemness and Metastasis.” Amazing work, Rokana!

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Rokana with her award winning poster!

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Emma presenting her project on exosome based therapeutic delivery.

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Valery talking to other students and postdocs in cancer research.

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Lurie Cancer Survivor Celebration Walk and 5K

The Liu Lab took to Grant Park in Chicago to participate in the Lurie Cancer Center’s Survivors’ Celebration Walk and 5K along with over 3,000 other survivors, supporters, researchers, friends, and family. The event raised nearly $370,000 for cancer research and was a great way to bring the greater community together for a cause near and dear to everyone’s heart.

The Liu Lab and other cancer researchers from Northwestern come together on this beautiful Sunday in Chicago.

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Members of the Liu Lab after finishing their 5K run.

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Yuzhi starting the walk.

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Pharmacology Retreat 2019

This year, the Department of Pharmacology held their annual retreat on May 2 at the 1 North Michigan Conference Center in Chicago, Illinois. The retreat included many great talks by students, post-docs, and faculty from across the Pharmacology department, including two talks by our very own Valery Adorno-Cruz and Rokana Taftaf! Many members of the Liu Lab also presented posters at the event. And after a day of serious science, the lab participated in Lab Olympics, competing in events such as pipette shooting, pipette box filling, eppendorf ring toss, and pipette box stacking!

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The Liu Lab in front of Erika’s nominated poster.

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Valery presenting her research.

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Valery presenting her research to the department.

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Dr. Liu participating in the pipette tip shooting competition.

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Ladies of the Liu Lab racing in the pipette box filling competition.

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Chinese New Year Party 2019

The Liu Lab celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Pig  with our second annual dumpling making competition. Members of the Liu Lab, the Pharmacology Department, family, and friends came together to make a total of 454 dumplings! Three teams participated in three separate competitions: dumpling making, calligraphy, and ping-pong. The Yellow team dominated with 182 dumplings. The Green team proved their hand at calligraphy, and the red team took home the ping-pong trophy. But ultimately, everyone won as we all enjoyed a delicious meal and good fun!

The extended Liu Lab family!

Dr. Liu with head of the Pharmacology Department, Dr. George, and his wife.

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Madoka and Xia teaching Emma some Calligraphy 101.

The Yellow team– dumpling making champs!

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The Red team hard at work.

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Lab Holiday Celebrations 2018

The Liu Lab celebrated the holidays this year with a delicious lab lunch at Indian Garden restaurant. All lab members and our support staff enjoyed a chilly Chicago December afternoon with good food and good company. The holiday celebrations continued with the Department of Pharmacology sponsored holiday party. This year’s theme was Superheros!


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The Liu lab enjoying lunch at Indian Garden.

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Members of the Liu Lab at our holiday outing at Indian Garden lunch outing.

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The Liu Lab superheros at the Department of Pharmacology Holiday Party!

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Cancer Discovery Paper Publication!

Congratulations Liu Cluster Team, Especially Xia!! Great team work and tremendous efforts of Xia, Rokana, Madoka, Dr. Liu and all other team members who contributed to make it possible to publish our paper in this esteemed Journal. This achievement has provided us great inspiration to continue doing research work  to achieve our ultimate goal of finding best possible cure for Breast cancer patients.


Homophilic CD44 interactions mediate tumor cell aggregation and polyclonal metastasis in patient-derived breast cancer models
Xia Liu, Rokana Taftaf, Madoka Kawaguchi, Ya-Fang Chang, Wenjing Chen, David Entenberg, Youbin Zhang, Lorenzo Gerratana, Simo Huang, Dhwani Patel, Elizabeth Tsui, Valery Adorno-Cruz, Steven Chirieleison, Yue Cao, Allison Harney, Shivani Patel, Antonia Patsialou, Yang Shen, Stefanie Avril, Hannah Gilmore, Justin Lathia, Derek Abbott, Massimo Cristofanilli, John Condeelis, Huiping Liu



NU News Story:



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Xia Liu wins the Komen Career Catalyst Research (CCR) award March 28th, 2018

It is our pleasure to announce that our very talented lab member Xia Liu won Komen CCR award. We are very proud of you, Xia! It’s a time to celebrate your hard work!




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Chinese New Year: Dumpling Party/ Competition!! March 4th, 2018

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New publication: Wenjing Chen, Andrew Hoffmann and Xia Liu publish a review article in npj Precision Oncology February 16th, 2018

Congratulations to Xia, Andrew, Wenjing!!

“ Organotropism: new insights into molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis”

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Fun Time!! Our Brides to be… February 2nd, 2018

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Rokana wins the Oncogenesis and Developmental Biology T32 fellowship November 27th, 2017

Congratulations Rokana!


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Erika wins the Carcinogenesis T32 Fellowship October 24th, 2017

Congratulations Erika!


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Valery wins 2017-18 Jay Yeh Graduate Student Award for Excellence!! October 2nd, 2017

Congratulations Valery!


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Review Publication in Trends in Cancer: Congratulations Erika and Andrew!! September 2017

Congratulations to both Erika and Andrew for their review publication in Trends in Cancer Journal, focusing on cancer stem cells as well as challenges and new strategies to prevent them from metastasizing cancer in other organs.

New Opportunities and Challenges to Defeat Cancer Stem Cells. Ramos EK, Hoffmann AD, Gerson SL, Liu H. Trends Cancer. 2017 Nov;3(11):780-796. doi: 10.1016/j.trecan.2017.08.007. Epub 2017 Sep 21. PMID: 29120754

Erika                                       Andrew

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