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Exploring & Engineering Microbial Defense Pathways


Microbes and their viruses, called “phages”, have been engaged in a continuous evolutionary arms race for millions of years.  As a result, they have evolved a wide variety of systems for defense and counterdefense. Our lab uses versatile approaches drawn from biochemistry, molecular, structural, and cell biology to understand the mechanisms by which these systems function. We focus primarily on CRISPR-Cas systems, which are programmable RNA-guided immune pathways found in bacteria, archaea, and even some phages. We work to acquire fundamental mechanistic insights into these widespread microbial defense systems, while also applying this knowledge to develop useful technologies for human health and medicine.

The Liu lab believes that the best science is done by a diverse team in an equitable and inclusive environment, where each team member contributes their unique perspectives and ideas to solve challenging problems and make new discoveries. We welcome individuals of any race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, age, or disability status.