Qin Liu, PhD

Qin Liu, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Liu joined the Washington University School of Medicine in 2012 after she finished her postdoctoral training in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Using genetically modified mouse models and a combination of molecular, cellular, and behavioral techniques, she identified several novel itch receptors mediating non-histaminergic itch, opening a door to studying the neural mechanism of chronic itch.

Dr. Liu’s current research focuses on the neural components of allergic and infectious diseases. Her group aims to dissect the neuronal populations and circuits that drive allergic and infectious symptoms, including itchy, watery eyes, excessive sneezing, rhinorrhea, and coughing. Their studies have revealed distinct sensory innervation in the cornea and conjunctiva, and identified the sensory population that mediates allergic ocular itch (Nature Medicine, 2018). From allergic conjunctivitis, their research extends to allergic rhinitis and delineates the first neural pathway from the nose to brain stem respiratory neurons that mediates the sneezing reflex (Cell, 2021). Since allergy and viral infections have many common symptoms, their future studies will be directed at dissecting the neuronal populations and pathways engaged in viral infections, including viral conjunctivitis and respiratory infections, and identifying new drug targets for symptom management.

Additional Titles

  • Full Professor, Anesthesiology
  • Full Professor, Neuroscience, Ophthalmology, and Dermatology

Education and training

  • PhD, Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, P.R. China, 2004
  • Postdoc, Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine/ Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2012

Research Interests

  • Anatomical and Functional Dichotomy of Ocular Itch and Pain
  • The neural pathway from the nasal sensory neurons to the brainstem mediates the sneezing and coughing reflexes
  • The neuropathways from sensory receptors to parasympathetic effectors