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Yutao Liu, MD, PhD - Augusta University. Augusta, GA, US

Yutao Liu, MD, PhD

Associate Professor | Augusta University


Dr. Liu is a human molecular geneticist in glaucoma and keratoconus.






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Dr. Liu is a human molecular geneticist in glaucoma and keratoconus. He is good at applying high-throughput sequencing and genotyping as well as microarray-based technologies into his genomics research.

The long term goal of Dr. Liu’s laboratory is to dissect age-related genetic diseases using systematic approaches, including human genetics, functional genomics, and molecular/cellular biology. We work with clinicians very closely. Our lab has extensive research experience in the area of human genetics, bioinformatics, and functional genomics using several model systems, including human samples, cell/tissue culture and mouse models. Our research has been published in over 40 peer-reviewed articles, including Nature Genetics, PLoS Genetics, American Journal of Human Genetics, PNAS, IOVS, and Molecular Vision. Our research has been supported by a variety of different organizations, including the NEI, several private foundations (including TGF, GRF, AHAF, and RPB), and institutional supports. Our current research is focused on two vision-related disorders: keratoconus (KC) and glaucoma. KC, a progressive thinning of the cornea, is the most common corneal ectasia, affecting one in every 500 to 2000 Americans. KC causes moderate to severe astigmatism, nearsightedness, swelling and cornea scarring. 10-20% KC patients eventually need corneal transplants. Our KC research is to identify genetic mutations in both DNA sequence and structure (i.e. copy number) in multiplex KC families using second generation DNA sequencing. We collaborate with investigators from California, Iowa, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Duke University in North Carolina. Glaucoma is characterized as a progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells and visual field. Our lab has been involved in the identification of several glaucoma-associated genes, LOXL1, CDKN2B-AS1, SIX6, GALC, and chr8q22 locus. Dr. Liu is a Co-Investigator of the NEIGHBORHOOD glaucoma consortium. Another project is to study how the exosomal miRNAs in the aqueous humor may affect glaucoma. We are characterizing how the exosomes and its content – miRNA are involved in the pathogenesis of glaucoma. This may lead to the identification of biomarkers for glaucoma. In addition, we are interested in studying the ocular phenotypes in several transgenic mouse models by characterizing their intraocular pressure, retinal ganglion cells, and cornea thickness and curvature.

Areas of Expertise (5)

DNA Copy Number Analysis

Animal Modeling

Functional Genomics

Human Molecular Genetics

Next Generation Sequencing

Education (3)

University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Ph.D., Genome Science & Technology - Molecular Genetics & Functional Genomics 2006

Truman State University: M.S., Biology 2001

Beijing Medical University: M.D., Medicine 1995

Media Appearances (3)

Sights are set on better understanding vision-damaging keratoconus

EurekAlert  online


A $2.1 million grant from the National Eye Institute is now helping Dr. Yutao Liu, vision scientist and human geneticist, learn more about keratoconus' causes and identify points to better diagnose, treat and maybe prevent the progressive disease that typically starts in our teens.

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Augusta vision scientist receives grant to learn more about keratoconus’ causes and treatments

News Medical Life Sciences  online


"We want to help patients better understand what is happening to their vision by better understanding how keratoconus happens, and give physicians better points to intervene," says the scientist in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Georgia and James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute at Augusta University.

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New directions found in understanding, fighting glaucoma

Science Daily  online


"If we know the pathways involved, maybe we can reverse this, find better targets and design better drugs," says Dr. Yutao Liu, vision scientist and human geneticist in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

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Articles (5)

Modification of Cardiac Progenitor Cell-Derived Exosomes by miR-322 Provides Protection against Myocardial Infarction through Nox2-Dependent Angiogenesis


Yutao Liu, et al.

2019 Myocardial infarction (MI) is the primary cause of cardiovascular mortality, and therapeutic strategies to prevent or mitigate the consequences of MI are a high priority. Cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) have been used to treat cardiac injury post-MI, and despite poor engraftment, they have been shown to inhibit apoptosis and to promote angiogenesis through poorly understood paracrine effects.

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Very Long-Chain C24: 1 Ceramide Is Increased in Serum Extracellular Vesicles with Aging and Can Induce Senescence in Bone-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Yutao Liu

2019 Extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes and microvesicles, function in cell-to-cell communication through delivery of proteins, lipids and microRNAs to target cells via endocytosis and membrane fusion. These vesicles are enriched in ceramide, a sphingolipid associated with the promotion of cell senescence and apoptosis.

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Muscle-derived miR-34a increases with age in circulating extracellular vesicles and induces senescence of bone marrow stem cells

Impact Journals, LLC

Yutao Liu

2019 Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are known to play important roles in cell-cell communication. Here we investigated the role of muscle-derived EVs and their microRNAs in the loss of bone stem cell populations with age. Aging in male and female C57BL6 mice was associated with a significant increase in expression of the senescence-associated microRNA miR-34a-5p (miR-34a) in skeletal muscle and in serum–derived EVs.

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Genome-wide analyses identify 68 new loci associated with intraocular pressure and improve risk prediction for primary open-angle glaucoma

Nature Genetics

Yutao Liu, et al.

2018 Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally 1. Despite its gravity, the disease is frequently undiagnosed in the community 2. Raised intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most important risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) 3, 4. Here we present a meta-analysis of 139,555 European participants, which identified 112 genomic loci associated with IOP, 68 of which are novel.

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A Comparative Study of Serum Exosome Isolation Using Differential Ultracentrifugation and Three Commercial Reagents

PloS one

Yutao Liu, et al.

2017 Exosomes play a role in cell-to-cell signaling and serve as possible biomarkers. Isolating exosomes with reliable quality and substantial concentration is a major challenge. Our purpose is to compare the exosomes extracted by three different exosome isolation kits (miRCURY, ExoQuick, and Invitrogen Total Exosome Isolation Reagent) and differential ultracentrifugation (UC) using six different volumes of a non-cancerous human serum (5 ml, 1 ml, 500 μl, 250 μl, 100 μl, and 50 μl) and three different volumes (1 ml, 500 μl and 100 μl) of six individual commercial serum samples collected from human donors.

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