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Fei Liu

Fei Liu

Associate Professor

Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine

5701 Airport Road, Module C
Temple , TX 76502
Office Phone: (254) 771-6813


  1. B. Clin. Med., 4th Military Medical University of China, 1995
  2. M. Med. Immunology, 4th Military Medical University of China, 1998
  3. Ph.D., Molecular Immunology, 4th Military Medical University of China, 2002
  4. Post-doc., University of Dundee & University of Aberdeen (Dr. Stefan Hoppler), 2002-2005
  5. Post-doc., University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Sarah Millar), 2005-2008


Fei Liu is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine located in Temple, Texas.  He received his Bachelor of Clinical Medicine (equivalent to M.D.) and a Master of Medical Immunology from the 4th Military Medical University of China in 1995 and 1998, respectively.  He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Immunology from the 4th Military Medical University in 2002 working with Dr. Boquan Jin on signal transduction of Interleukin-6 family cytokines and Notch pathway. His postdoctoral work was at the University of Dundee and University of Aberdeen in Scotland in the laboratory of Dr. Stefan Hoppler. His research focused on the molecular mechanism that determines tissue-specific responses to Wnt signaling, then in 2005 he accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania in Dr. Sarah Millar’s lab continuing his Wnt signaling research in  development of epithelial appendages. Dr Liu joined the faculty at Texas A&M University System Health Science Center in October 2008.

Research Interests:

Molecular cues for development and regeneration of tooth roots: 

From the clinical point of view, roots are the most important part of tooth, which provide support for natural or artificial crown and are not replaceable with current technologies. The formation and homeostasis of tooth roots require sequential and reciprocal interaction between dental epithelia and mesenchyme mediated by protein messengers known as signaling molecules. Dr. Liu’s recent work revealed that Wnt (wingless/int), Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) and Sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling pathways play essential roles at early stages of tooth development, now his group is examining the roles of these pathways in tooth root formation and regeneration.

Molecular cues for regeneration of salivary glands:

Salivary gland destruction is a major consequence of various pathological conditions such as radiation therapy for head and neck cancer and Sojagren's syndrome. Currently available treatments for dry mouth cannot restore salivary gland functions. Stem cells based regenerative therapy is a promising direction to treat this condition. Dr. Liu’s recent work revealed that Wnt and SHH signaling signaling promote expansion of salivary gland stem cells. Further studies on modulation of signaling activities to promote salivary gland regeneration are planned.

Reprogramming of salivary gland stem cells to produce insulin-secreting beta-cells:

Pancreatic beta-cells are one of the most important targets in regenerative medicine, but sources of human pancreatic stem/progenitor cells are very limited. Salivary gland stem cells can be induced to differentiate into cells with endocrine pancreatic phenotype, but their continuous cell division ability is limited and pancreatic differentiation ceases at the immature stage. Recent studies found cellular signaling pathways direct the development of pancreas and proved the feasibility of cell reprogramming. The group will examine the potential of modulating signal activities to direct the pancreatic-differentiation of salivary gland stem cells.

Selected Publications:

Liu, F., Chu, E.Y., Watt, B., Zhang, Y., Gallant, N.M., Andl, T., Yang, S.H., Lu, M.M., Piccolo, S., Schmidt-Ullrich, R. et al. 2008. Wnt/beta-catenin signaling directs multiple stages of tooth morphogenesis. Dev Biol 313: 210-224.

Liu, F., Thirumangalathu, S., Gallant, N.M., Yang, S.H., Stoick-Cooper, C.L., Reddy, S.T., Andl, T., Taketo, M.M., Dlugosz, A.A., Moon, R.T. et al. 2007. Wnt-beta-catenin signaling initiates taste papilla development. Nat Genet 39: 106-112.

Andl, T., Murchison, E.P., Liu, F., Zhang, Y., Yunta-Gonzalez, M., Tobias, J.W., Andl, C.D., Seykora, J.T., Hannon, G.J., and Millar, S.E. 2006. The miRNA-processing enzyme dicer is essential for the morphogenesis and maintenance of hair follicles. Curr Biol 16: 1041-1049.

Liu, F., van den Broek, O., Destree, O., and Hoppler, S. 2005. Distinct roles for Xenopus Tcf/Lef genes in mediating specific responses to Wnt/beta-catenin signalling in mesoderm development. Development 132: 5375-5385.