Dr. Jen Liou received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), under the mentorship of Dr. Arthur Weiss, for her work on dissecting signaling events in lymphocyte activation using biochemical and genetic approaches. During her postdoctoral training under Dr. Tobias Meyer at Stanford University, Dr. Liou studied store-operated calcium entry (SOCE), a signaling pathway essential for lymphocyte activation and many other physiological functions, using systems biology and quantitative live-cell imaging approaches. By performing large-scale human small interfering RNA screens, Dr. Liou identified STIM1 and STIM2 as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium sensors that mediate SOCE. In addition, she demonstrated that STIM1 dynamically localizes to ER sites in close contact with the plasma membrane (PM), namely ER-PM junctions, to activate SOCE when ER calcium is depleted.
Since starting her own laboratory at UT Southwestern, Dr. Liou has expanded her research and established herself in the emerging field of inter-organelle signaling at membrane contact sites. Based on her studies of STIM1, the Liou lab has developed innovative approaches to identify and characterize new proteins that function at ER-PM junctions and other inter-organelle membrane contact sites. The knowledge derived from her work contributes significantly to fundamental concepts in cell biology and may help design therapeutic strategies to treat patients suffering diseases caused by defective SOCE.
Dr. Liou is a senior editor of a new journal named “Contact”.