Zhenhua Liu, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition
School of Public Health and Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, USA


Dr. Liu is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an Adjunct Scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA), Tufts University. He completed his postdoc training from HNRCA and Tufts-New England Medical Center. He received his PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from Auburn University with an additional MS degree in Statistics-Life Sciences. Before that he had a MS degree in Animal Sciences from China Agricultural University and a BS degree in Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine from Hunan Agricultural University. He is a reviewer for multiple research foundations and greater than 10 journals.

Research Interest

His research interests include: Diet and lifestyle are modifiable factors which play a prominent role in public health. His laboratory investigates how those factors and their metabolically-related gene variants interact to mediate the development of chronic diseases. Particularly, his research field centralizes on the nutritional modulation of the Wnt-signaling pathway as it tightly relates to many chronic diseases including cancer and obesity-associated medical complications. His laboratory uses cell culture, animal models and human biospecimens, biochemical and molecular techniques, as well as systems biology approaches to understand the etiology of human chronic diseases. The ultimate goal of his research is to translate our biological findings into dietary and lifestyle strategies to diminish the burden of chronic diseases in our society.

Scientific Activities


• (2012), Bio-Serv Award for Young Investigators. American Society for Nutrition, San Diego, CA
• (2007), Hamish N. Munro Award for Excellence in Post doctoral Research, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA
• (2002, 2003), Presidential Research Fellowship, Auburn University, AL, USA


• (2014-Present), Faculty Member, Center for Bioactive Delivery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
• (2013-Present), Faculty Member, Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
• (2009-2012), Investigator (Associate Member), Nutrition and Cancer Program, Tufts Medical Center-Cancer Center, Boston, MA
• (2010), Certificate of SAS Advance Programming
• (2008), Certificate of SAS Base Programming
• (2012-Present), Member, American Society for Nutrition
• (2010-2012), Member, American Association for Cancer Research
• (2010), Member, American Gastroenterology Association
• (2006-2009), Associate Member, American Association for Cancer Research


Peer-Reviewed Publications

1. Tammen SA, Dolnikowski GG, Ausman LM, et al. 2014. Aging and Alcohol Interact to Alter Hepatic DNA Hydroxymethylation. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2014. doi: 10.1111/acer.12477
2. Selhub J, Byun A, Liu Z, Mason JB, Bronson RT, Crott JW. Dietary vitamin B6 intake modulates colonic inflammation in the IL10-/- model of inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2013; 24: 2138-2143. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.08.005
3. Liu Z, Brooks RS, Ciappio ED, Bennett G, Crott JW, Mason JB. Diet-induced obesity elevates colonic TNF-α in mice and is accompanied by an activation of Wnt signaling: a mechanism for obesity-associated colorectal cancer.Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2012; 23: 1207-1213. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2011.07.002
4. Flood A, Mason JB, Liu Z, et al. Concentration of folate in colorectal tissue biopsies predicts prevalence of adenomatous polyps. Gut. 2011; 60: 66-72. doi: 10.1136/gut.2010.208074
5. Protiva P, Mason JB, Liu Z, et al. Altered Folate Availability Modifies the Molecular Environment of the Human Colorectum: Implications for Colorectal Carcinogenesis. Cancer Prevention Research. 2011; 4: 530-543. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0143
6. Ciappio ED, Liu Z, Brooks RS, Mason JB, Bronson RT, Crott JW. Maternal B-vitamin supplementation from preconception through weaning suppresses intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc+/1638N mouse offspring. Gut. 2011; 60: 1695-1702. doi: 10.1136/gut.2011.240291
7. Liu Z, Ciappio ED, Crott JW, Brook RS, Mason JB. Mild inadequacy in multiple one-carbon vitamins elevates Wnt-signaling and promotes intestinal tumorigenesis in the BAT-LacZ×Apc1638N mouse model. FASEB Journal. 2011; 25: 3136-3145.
8. Chanson A, Parnell LD, Ciappio ED, et al. Polymorphisms in uracil-processing genes, but not one-carbon nutrients, are associated with altered DNA uracil concentrations in an urban Puerto Rican population. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009; 89: 1927-1936. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27429
9. DeVos L, Chanson A, Liu Z, et al. Associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms in folate uptake and metabolizing genes with blood folate, homocysteine, and DNA uracil concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008; 88: 1149-1158.
10. Liu Z, Choi SW, Crott JW, et al. Mild depletion of dietary folate combined with other B-vitamins alters multiple components of the Wnt pathway in the mouse colon. Journal of Nutrition. 2007; 137: 2701-2708.
11. Liu Z, Choi SW, Crott JW, Mason JB. Multiple B-vitamin inadequacy amplifies alterations induced by folate depletion in p53 expression and its downstream effector MDM2. International Journal of Cancer. 2008; 123: 519-525. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23599
12. Keys MK, Jang H, Mason JB, et al. Elder age and dietary folate are interactive determinants of genomic and p16-specific DNA methylation in the mouse colon. Journal of Nutrition. 2007; 137: 1713-1717.
13. Gabriel HE, Liu Z, Crott JW, et al. Carotenoid, retinoid and tocopherol concentrations in serum and buccal mucosa of smokers is altered in a manner unrelated to diet. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. 2006; 15: 993-999.
14. Liu Z, Yang Y. Inflammation driven activation of Wnt pathway: A potential mechanism responsible for obesity associated colorectal cancer. Obes Res Open J. 2015; 1(1): 10-16. 10.17140/OROJ-1-103