Jun Liu, Ph.D., M.S.

Headshot of Jun Liu
  • Co-Director, Cancer Chemical and Structural Biology, Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Research Interests

Translational medicine; Molecular and cellular biology; Chemical biology ...read more


Dr. Jun Liu is a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the interaction between chemistry, biology and medicine. Dr. Liu serves as the co-leader for the Cancer Chemical and Structural Biology Program for the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Dr. Liu is the director of the Johns Hopkins Drug Library, where he and his collaborators aim to find new uses for often-forgotten drugs. Among the drug library's notable discoveries is that itraconazole, a widely used antifungal antibiotic, is a potent inhibitor of new blood vessel formation. To date, itraconazole has shown efficacy in treating non-small cell lung cancer in combination with pemetrexed, metastatic and castration-resistant prostate cancer and basal cell carcinoma.

Dr. Liu received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Nanjing University in Nanjing, China. He earned his M.S. in organic chemistry from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Harvard University and a research associate at the National Institutes of Health.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Liu was an associate professor in the Center for Cancer Research and the departments of biology and chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Liu's work was recognized with a Director's Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2010.

...read more


  • Co-Director, Cancer Chemical and Structural Biology, Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Director, Johns Hopkins Drug Library
  • Director, ChemBioCORE
  • Director, Drug Discovery CORE of the FAMRI Center of Excellence at Johns Hopkins
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
  • Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts) (1990)
  • B.S.; Nanjing University (China) (1983)
  • M.S.; Ohio State University (Ohio) (1986)

Additional Training

  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1990, Biochemistry

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Liu's primary research interest lies at the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine. He and his research team employ high-throughput screening to identify modulators of various cellular processes and pathways that have been implicated in human diseases, from cancer to autoimmune diseases. Once biologically active inhibitors are identified, they will serve both as probes of the biological processes of interest and as leads for the development of new drugs for treating human diseases.

Among the biological processes of interest are cancer cell growth and apoptosis, angiogenesis, calcium-dependent signaling pathways, eukaryotic transcription and translation.

Current projects include the exploration of the existing drug space for novel pharmacological activities with translational potential; learning from nature—using natural products as probes of eukaryotic transcription and translation processes; and imitating nature—generating natural product-inspired macrocyclic combinatorial libraries for the discovery of novel inhibitors of protein-protein interactions.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Park H, Kam TI, Peng H, Chou SC, Mehrabani-Tabari AA, Song JJ, Yin X, Karuppagounder SS, Umanah GK, Rao AVS, Choi Y, Aggarwal A, Chang S, Kim H, Byun J, Liu JO, Dawson TM, Dawson VL. “PAAN/MIF nuclease inhibition prevents neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.” Cell 2022 May 26; 185:1943-1959. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.04.020. Epub 2022 May 10

Guo Z, Hong SY, Wang J, Rehan S, Liu W, Peng H, Das M, Li W, Bhat S, Peiffer B, Ullman BR, Tse CM, Tarmakova Z, Schiene-Fischer C, Fischer G, Coe I, Paavilainen VO, Sun Z, Liu JO. “Rapamycin-inspired macrocycles with new target specificity.” Nat Chem. 2019 Mar; 11:254-263. doi: 10.1038/s41557-018-0187-4. Epub 2018 Dec 10

Guo Z, Cheng Z, Wang J, Liu W, Peng H, Wang Y, Rao AVS, Li RJ, Ying X, Korangath P, Liberti MV, Li Y, Xie Y, Hong SY, Schiene-Fischer C, Fischer G, Locasale JW, Sukumar S, Zhu H, Liu JO. “Discovery of a Potent GLUT Inhibitor from a Library of Rapafucins by Using 3D Microarrays.” Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2019 Nov 25; 58:17158-17162. doi: 10.1002/anie.201905578. Epub 2019 Oct 31

Peiffer BJ, Qi L, Ahmadi AR, Wang Y, Guo Z, Peng H, Sun Z, Liu JO. “Activation of BMP Signaling by FKBP12 Ligands Synergizes with Inhibition of CXCR4 to Accelerate Wound Healing.” Cell Chem Biol. 2019 May 16; 26:652-661.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Feb 28

Li RJ, Xu J, Fu C, Zhang J, Zheng YG, Jia H, Liu JO. “Regulation of mTORC1 by lysosomal calcium and calmodulin.” Elife. 2016 Oct 27; 5:e19360. doi: 10.7554/eLife.19360

Contact for Research Inquiries

Hunterian Building
725 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-955-4619
Fax: 410-955-4520

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) Program

Activities & Honors


  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2011
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2008
  • Director's Pioneer Award, National Institutes of Health, 2010
  • Foundation Award, Prostate Cancer , 2007
  • Foundation Scholar, Peter J. Sharp , 2006

Professional Activities

  • Steering Committee, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute

Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Q&A with Jun Liu on teaching an old dog new tricks -- using known drugs to treat new diseases, Hopkins Medicine 

Immune system 'brakes' found, BBC NEWS  (January 28, 2007)

With Aid of Drug Library, New Remedies From Old, The New York Times, (April 27, 2009)

Antibiotic Slows Growth of Bladder, Breast Cancer Cells, Hopkins Medicine (January 19, 2011)

Solving A Traditional Chinese Medicine Mystery, Hopkins Medicine (March 2, 2011)

HIV And Breast Cancer May Share A Common Enemy: Nelfinavir, Hopkins Medicine (October 10, 2012)

Scientists Look For New Drugs In Skin Of Russian Frog, NPR, (December 17, 2012)

Sugar Transforms a Traditional Chinese Medicine into a Cruise Missile, Hopkins Medicine (September 7, 2016)

Rapafusyn Developing Compound That May Thwart Common Surgery Complication. JHU Ventures (March 5, 2019)

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