Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Cancer Cell Biology
Area of Interest
The Pengda Liu Lab is interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying aberrant signaling events that contribute to tumorigenesis mediated by protein modifications and protein-protein interactions. Understanding these events may lead to identification of novel drug targets and provide new treatment strategies to combat human cancer. To this end, we are interested in the potential of enzymes, and their inhibition, for generating traditional inhibitory chemical compounds or antibodies as potential therapeutic tools.
Cell signaling networks determine cell fate and aberrant activation of oncogenic signaling is a key mechanism during cancer development; however, cell-signaling networks are complicated and dynamic with fluxes in both space and time. Thus, to understand how cancer-associated aberrant cell decisions are made requires addressing the following questions through a global view of cell signaling networks, including to identify the key molecular events that lead to malignant diseases but do not occur in healthy cells and to elucidate how can cancer-associated signaling modules be targeted for cancer treatment.
Awards and Honors
- Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation Award, 2022
- American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) Innovation Challenge Winner, 2021
- Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program Idea Development Award, 2021
- Sapphire North America’s Return to Research Grant, 2021
- Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship in Academic Medicine, 2021
- Breast Cancer Alliance Young Investigator Grant, 2020
- Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation Medical Research Award, 2020
- Avantor Sciences Foundation Grant, 2019
- UNC Lineberger Developmental Grant, 2019
- Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Cancer Career Development Award (declined), 2019
- North Carolina Biotechnology Center Flash Grant, 2019
- Joseph Li Travel Award, 2019
- NCTraCS Pilot Grant, 2019
- V Scholar Award, V Foundation for Cancer Research, 2018
- UNC IBM Junior Faculty Development Award, 2017
- Atomwise Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen (AIMS) Award, 2017
- East Carolina University 40 under 40 Leadership Award, 2016
- National Cancer Institute Pathway to Independence (K99) Award, 2014
- NIH/NHLBI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, 2012
- Carol F. Volkman Award, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, 2006
News and Stories
Researchers identify how cancer hijacks a class of enzyme motif mutations to fuel tumorigenesis
A team of UNC researchers have discovered how colon cancer “hijacks” enzyme motif mutations, a finding that may help identify new targets or directions for cancer treatments.
Liu awarded $150,000 Ewing sarcoma research grant
Pengda Liu, PhD, was awarded the grant to support his research targeting ATR/SPOP signaling to overcome chemotherapy resistance in Ewing sarcoma, a bone cancer that occurs mainly in children.
Liu, Arthur awarded Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship
Pengda Liu, PhD, and Janelle Arthur, PhD, will present their research at the Jefferson-Pilot Fellowships in Academic Medicine and James W. Woods Junior Faculty Award Seminar during UNC Research Week.
Researchers discover gene linked to bone cancer in children, identify potential novel therapy
Pengda Liu, PhD, Ian Davis, MD, PhD, and colleagues have discovered a gene, OTUD7A, that impacts the development of Ewing sarcoma, as well as a compound that shows potential to block OTUD7A protein activity.