Da Zhi Liu, Ph.D., UC Davis

Da Zhi Liu, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Med Neuroscience Building
1515 Newton Court, Rm 510D
Davis, CA 95618

Research Interests

In the last decade, Dr. Liu developed a new concept called “Aberrate Cell Cycle Disease,” revealing that tumor growth in cancers and neuronal death in neurological disorders share the common mechanism of aberrant cell cycle re-entry. Based on this concept, he established a research program entitled “Leveraging Cancer Elements to Study Neurological Disorders.” This research program has led to four products, such as kinase inhibitors (dasatinib, abemaciclib) and tumor suppressors (miR-122, miR-125b), that are in process of patent applications for the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other diseases. In addition to academic pursuits, Dr. Liu founded a UCD-affiliated startup, Mirnova Therapeutics, Inc., with a mission to develop safe, effective and affordable drugs for the treatment of TBI and/or PTSD. Since 2020, the Liu lab has entered a rapid growth phase and welcomed additional trainees aboard, including two junior specialists, one visiting post-doc scholar, and seven medical students from UC Davis and beyond.


University of California at Davis, Post-doc, Neuroscience, 2006-2010

Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, PhD, Neuro-Pharmacology, 2002-2005

Professional Memberships

National Neurotrauma Society
Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism  

Curriculum Development and Teaching

Aberrant Cell Cycle Disease (UC Davis Course #: 44276)


DoD-TBIPHRP study panel

Admission Committee (UC Davis SOM)

Research Activities and Funding

MicroRNA Therapeutics for Traumatic Brain Injury (R01NS114061)         2/15/2020- 1/31/2025
Role of the Src in Traumatic Brain Injury (R01NS089901)                        5/15/2015- 2/28/2020


NIH Public Bibliography

Lui A, Vanleuven J, Perekopskiy D, Liu D, Xu D, Alzayat O, Elgokhy T, Do T, Gann M, Liu DZ.  FDA-Approved Kinase Inhibitors in Preclinical and Clinical Trials for Neurological Disorders. Pharmaceuticals. (Submitted, Invited review)

Lui A, Alzayat O, Do T, Perekopskiy D, Gann M, Elgokhy TS, Gao J, Liu DZ. Multi-targeted anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders. Neural Regen Res. 2023 Apr;18(4):805-806. PMID: 36204844 Perspective

Ye Z, Izadi A, Gurkoff GG, Rickerl K, Sharp FR, Ander BP, Bauer AZ, Lui A, Lyeth BG, Liu DZ. Combined Inhibition of Fyn and c-Src Protects Hippocampal Neurons and Improves Spatial Memory via ROCK after Traumatic Brain Injury. J Neurotrauma. 2022 Apr;39(7-8):520-529. PMID: 35109711

Lv B, Cheng XY, Sharp FR, Ander BP, Liu DZ. Broad therapeutic window of miR-122 mimic to improve stroke outcome through indirect inhibition of NOS2. Front. Neurosci. 2018;12:767. PMID: 30405345

Liu DZ. Repurposing cancer drugs to treat neurological diseases – Src inhibitors as examples. Neural Regen Res. 2017 Jun;12(6):910-911. PMID: 28761420 Perspective

Liu DZ, Jickling GC, Ander BP, Hull H, Zhan X, Cox C, Shroff N, Dykstra-Aiello C, Stamova B, Sharp FR. Elevating microRNA-122 in blood improves outcomes after temporary middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2016;36(8):1374-83. PMID: 26661204

Liu DZ. Aberrant cell cycle re-entry: Links between Cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. JSM Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia. 2014; 1(2):1006. Editorial

Jickling GC, Ander BP, Zhan X, Noblett D, Stamova B, Liu D. microRNA Expression in Peripheral Blood Cells following Acute Ischemic Stroke and Their Predicted GeneTargets. PLos One. 2014;9(6):e99283. PMID: 24911610

Liu DZ, Sharp FR, Van KC, Ander BP, Ghiasvand R, Stamova B, Zhan X, Jickling GC, Lyeth BG. Inhibition of Src Family Kinases Protects Hippocampal Neurons and Improves Cognitive Function after Traumatic Brain Injury. J Neurotrauma. 2014 Jul 15;31(14):1268-76. PMID: 24428562

Liu DZ. Mutations in Tumor Suppressor Genes: Links between Cancers and Autism Spectrum Disorders? Journal of Cytology & Histology. 2013; 5:e109. Editorial

Liu DZ, Ander BP, Cell Cycle Inhibition without Disruption of Neurogenesis is a Strategy for Treatment of Aberrant Cell Cycle Diseases: an Update. ScientificWorldJournal. 2012; 2012:491737. PMID: 22547985. Review

Liu DZ, Tian Y, Ander BP, Xu H, Stamova B, Zhan X, Turner RJ, Jickling G, Sharp FR. Brain and blood microRNA expression profiling of ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage and kainate seizures. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Jan;30(1):92-101. PMID: 19724284

Liu DZ, Ander BP, Xu H, Shen Y, Kaur P, Deng W, Sharp FR. Blood brain barrier breakdown and repair after thrombin-induced brain injury. Ann Neurol. 2010;67(4):526-33. PMID: 20437588

Liu DZ, Cheng XY, Ander BP, Xu H, Davis RR, Gregg JP, Sharp FR. Src kinase inhibition decreases thrombin-induced injury and cell cycle re-entry in striatal neurons. Neurobiol. Dis. 2008 May;30(2):201-11. PMID: 18343677.