Xiaole Shirley Liu, PhD is the recipient of the 2020 International Society for Computational Biology Innovator Award. The award is given to a leading scientist who is within two decades of receiving the PhD degree, has consistently made outstanding contributions to the field, and continues to forge new directions. Dr. Liu is Professor, Biostatistics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Co-Director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics.
“Xiaole Shirley Liu has been an innovative and prolific computational cancer biologist. Her research focuses on algorithm development and integrative modeling of high throughput data to understand the specificity and function of regulator genes in tumor development, progression, drug response and resistance. With many contributions to the field, she was a natural choice for this year’s award.
In computational biology, her laboratory developed widely used algorithms and tools for transcription factor motif finding, ChIP-chip/seq, chromatin accessibility profiles, CRISPR screen analyses, and tumor immune characterization. Many of her algorithms helped the community adopt new genomics technologies.
In transcription and epigenetic gene regulation, Dr. Liu has been a pioneer in using chromatin dynamics to predict trans-factors and cis-elements involved in biological processes and diseases. As a member of the mod/ENCODE consortium she helped establish best practices in ChIP-chip/seq. She and colleagues generated the first high throughput nucleosome map in the human genome, and identified the chromatin signature of embryonic pluripotency. Her work significantly advanced the understanding of the roles of many genomic and proteomic elements in cancer.
In translational cancer research, Dr. Liu contributed to the discovery of drug response biomarkers, drug resistance mechanisms, and effective combination therapies. Through analyses of large-scale compound and genetic screens as well as tumor profiling cohorts, her group revealed the functions of steroid hormone therapies, epigenetic inhibitors, gamma secretase inhibitor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and immune checkpoint inhibitors in different cancers.”