Xiaorong Liu

Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology

Research Interests

I have been interested in understanding the regulation and misregulation of retinal structures and functions during normal development and in diseased conditions since my PhD study. I started my own laboratory in 2008 as a research assistant professor in Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University, mainly working on visual system development and function. I started my tenure-track position in Ophthalmology in 2011, around which time I expanded my research interests to investigating how visual system degenerates in mouse models of experimental glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness characterized by progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death and vision loss. Much remains to be investigated how RGCs degenerate and die with glaucoma progression. Our research on RGC normal development and function provides unique and innovative tools to characterize RGC degeneration in glaucoma, which is much needed to advance the field. In my laboratory, we have established mouse models of experimental glaucoma to study RGC death and its underlying molecular mechanisms. We combine mouse genetics, in vivo imaging, molecular biology, and physiology techniques to study the structural and functional development of RGCs as well as how RGCs degenerate in glaucoma. Moreover, we are also interested in developing novel neuroprotection strategies to preserve vision in glaucoma. For more information, please visit my website.

Representative Publications:

  • Feng, L., Zhao, Y., Yoshida, M., Chen, H., Yang, J.F., Kim, T.S., Cang, J., Troy, J.B. and Liu, X. (2013) Sustained Ocular Hypertension Induces Dendritic Degeneration of Mouse Retinal Ganglion Cells that Depends on Cell-type and Location. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 54:1106-1117
  • Chen, H., Zhao, Y., Liu, M., Feng, L., Puyang, Z., Yi, J., Liang, P., Zhang, H.F., Cang, J., Troy, J.B., and Liu, X. (2015) Progressive Degeneration of Retinal and Superior Collicular Functions in Mice with Sustained Ocular Hypertension Invest Ophthal Vis Sci. 14-15691. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15691.
  • Puyang, Z., Feng, L., Chen, H., Liang, P., Troy, J.B., and Liu, X. (2016) Retinal Ganglion Cell Loss is Delayed Following Optic Nerve Crush in NLRP3 Knockout Mice. Sci. Rep. 6, 20998; doi: 10.1038/srep20998.
  • Yi, J., Puyang, Z., Feng, L., Duan, L., Liang, P., Backman, V., Liu, X.* and Zhang, H.F.* (2016) Optical detection of early damages in retinal ganglion cells in a mouse model of partial optic nerve crush injury Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 57, 5665–5671 *: co-corresponding authors.
  • Feng, L., Chen, H., Yi, J., Troy, J.B., Zhang, H.F., and Liu, X. (2016) Long-Term Protection of Retinal Ganglion Cells and Visual Function by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Mice With Ocular Hypertension Invest Ophthal Vis Sci  57(8):3793-802.
  • Feng, L., Puang, Z., Chen, H., Liang, P., Troy, J.B., and Liu, X. (2017) Overexpression of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Protects Large Retinal Ganglion Cells After Optic Nerve Crush in Mice eNeuro 4(1) e0331-16.