Visiting address
Phone: +852 34425842

Author IDs

Willing to take PhD students: yes


Dr. Liu graduated from Beijing Medical University (currently Peking University Health Science Center) with a B.M. degree in Basic Medical Science and University of Toronto with a M.Sc. in the Program in Neuroscience with Dr. Xian-min Yu at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr. Liu received his postdoctoral training from Dr. Zhao-wen Wang at the University of Connecticut Health Center and Dr. Erik Jorgensen at the University of Utah and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Before joining the faculty of City University of Hong Kong in 2021, Dr. Liuworked as a Research Assistant Professor with Dr. Cori Bargmann in the Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University. Dr. Liu was a recipient of the Grass Fellowship from the Grass Foundation in 2010, a two-time awardee of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute pilot grants from the Kavli Foundation in 2017 and 2020, and the recipient of the Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) Award from the National Science Foundation (USA) in 2021.


Research Interests

The integrated function of the human brain allows every individual human to have unique thoughts, perceptions, memories, and actions. These complex abilities arise from the interconnected neurons in the brain, which acquire information about the world, integrate it with ongoing knowledge and motivational states, and drive subsequent decisions and actions. To mechanistically understand how our brain accomplishes these incredibly sophisticated functions or even one day simulate our brain on a computer is one of the grand challenges of our time. This is a daunting task that requires a comprehensive understanding of a brain at every level of complexity, from molecules to neurons, circuits and systems they form, and the underlying computational principles. Compared to the human brain with approximately 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, the brain of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans has only 302 neurons and several thousand synapses. To reach the ultimate goal of solving our brain, we must first be able to understand and model much simpler brains. At the scale of C. elegans, scientists were able to map the physical wiring of the entire nervous system – the connectome – in the attempt to reconstruct the worm brain. It soon became clear, however, that structure alone did not solve function. Without the knowledge of the cell-type specific biophysical properties of individual neurons and the activity patterns they produce, theorists were unable to generate a unifying model that explained how the “simple” worm brain works. The Liu lab aims to address this problem by comprehensively characterizing biophysical properties of every C. elegans neuronal cell type and constructing highly constrained single-neuron and circuit level models. The long-term goal of the Liu lab is to biophysically map the entire worm brain, reproduce neural activity patterns in different neuron types and neural circuits, and eventually simulate how the worm brain generates behaviors. 

Specifically, the research of the Liu lab is focused on the following three fronts:

  • Systematically record from every neuron type in elegans using electrophysiology to establish a complete biophysical atlas of the worm brain.
  • Explore the functional significance of diverse biophysical properties in cellular and circuit physiology, neural computation, and animal behavior.
  • Construct conductance-based single-neuron models as well as anatomically and biophysically correct network models to simulate the elegans nervous system.


Position Available

We are seeking talented Ph.D students, Postdocs, and Research Assistants to join our team. Interested candidates please contact