Jim Liu received his B.Sc. from Peking University, China, in 1982, and Ph.D. degree from the University of Leeds, England, in 1988. He is the currently a Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Neurology at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, where he serves as the Associate Dean for Research at the College of Pharmacy. His research investigates metal toxicity and carcinogenesis, as well as mechanisms and neuroprotection of brain injury due to stroke, with a central focus on the role of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress in the development of diseases. His research program has been continuously funded by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the last 20 years.

Personal Statement

Metals are fascinating. Our body requires essential metals, such as zinc, to perform normal physiological functions, but under pathophysiological conditions, too much zinc can be released, leading to tissue injury. Similarly, toxic metals, such as arsenic, when entered into our body, can interfere with the normal function of zinc-containing proteins, again, leading to disease development. Understanding the action and interaction of metals is critical to develop effective interventions against various diseases.

Areas of Specialty

Metal toxicity and carcinogenesis
Brain injury and neuroprotection in stroke


PhD, University of Leeds, 1988
BSc, Peking University, 1982

Achievements & Awards

Established Investigator Award, American Heart Association. 2000

Dean William M. Hadley College of Pharmacy Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, University of New Mexico. 2008

A. Earl Walker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Neuroscience Research, University of New Mexico. 2013

Excellence in Research Award (Basic Science), Health Sciences Center, University of New Mexico. 2016

Key Publications

Journal Article
Zhou, Xixi, Sun, X, Cooper, Karen, L Wang, F, Liu, Ke, J Hudson, Laurie, G 2011 Arsenite interacts selectively with zinc finger proteins containing C3H1 or C4 motifs. The Journal of biological chemistry, vol. 286, Issue 26, 22855-63
Journal Article
Pan, Rong, Yu, K, Weatherwax, T, Zheng, H, Liu, W, Liu, Ke, J 2017 Blood Occludin Level as a Potential Biomarker for Early Blood Brain Barrier Damage Following Ischemic Stroke. Scientific reports, vol. 7
Journal Article
Ding, W, Liu, W, Cooper, Karen, L Qin, X, J de Souza Bergo, P, L Hudson, Laurie, G Liu, Ke, J 2009 Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 by arsenite interferes with repair of oxidative DNA damage. The Journal of biological chemistry, vol. 284, Issue 11, 6809-17
Journal Article
Zhou, Xixi, Cooper, Karen, L Sun, X, Liu, Ke, J Hudson, Laurie, G 2015 Selective Sensitization of Zinc Finger Protein Oxidation by Reactive Oxygen Species through Arsenic Binding. The Journal of biological chemistry, vol. 290, Issue 30, 18361-9
Journal Article
Zhao, Y, Yan, F, Yin, J, Pan, Rong, Shi, W, Qi, Z, Fang, Y, Huang, Y, Li , S, Luo, Y, Ji, X, Liu, Ke, J 2018 Synergistic Interaction Between Zinc and Reactive Oxygen Species Amplifies Ischemic Brain Injury in Rats. Stroke, vol. 49, Issue 9, 2200-2210

Research and Scholarship

Liu’s research focuses broadly in two different areas: metal toxicity and neuroscience/brain injury. In the metal research area, he investigates the molecular mechanism of environmental arsenite and chromium-induced toxicology and carcinogenesis with particular attention to the roles of free radicals, oxidative and nitrosative modification of zinc-finger DNA repair proteins, and zinc supplement as a chemoprevention strategy for reducing arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. In the neuroscience area, his lab is studying the mechanism of neurovascular and neuronal injury due to stroke, and is actively developing interventional strategies to decrease these injuries in both animal models and clinical stroke patients.