science

Summer Shenanigans

Ahh, September. A month of change that ushers in the fall, also known as pumpkin spice latte season. As the floodgates open and unleash a deluge of undergrads, G1s, and tourists back into Harvard Square, the members of the Liau Lab can be found right where they have been all along: sipping iced cold brews and snacking on veggie straws in the air-conditioned confines of Converse 201.

It’s been a packed summer, filled with both working hard and hardly working. Here are some highlights:

  • The lab receives a sweet grant courtesy of the Ono Pharma Foundation (thank you for the support!)! Those of you who check our website might have already seen the announcement sneakily go up on our front page news ;) Keep checking, we may have more good news to share in the future…

Thank you to the Ono Pharma Foundation!

Thank you to the Ono Pharma Foundation!

  • And the lab got bigger, too. Over the summer, we welcomed Rebecca Stillo, our new lab administrator; Aiden Wang, who joined us as a post-bacc from Cambridge (not that Cambridge, that Cambridge); David Tanner, a rising sophomore at Harvard; and Claudia Gomez, who was visiting us from Miami as part of the Summer Research Opportunities at Harvard program!

Check out Claudia’s poster on her work studying LSD1 biochemistry with Amanda!

Check out Claudia’s poster on her work studying LSD1 biochemistry with Amanda!

  • And of course, shout-out to Sarah, who’s been working hard under the tutelage of Ally and Hui Si and doing lots of tissue culture, western blots, and more. Finishing off a very productive summer, she gave an excellent talk at the PRISE program symposium!

  • We also had another GROUP CLEANUP. It was hard work, but our freezers are now defrosted, our fume hoods so clean you could eat off of them (NOTE: to any safety officers reading this, that was a joke), and our lab inventory is so comprehensive it spans numerous google spreadsheets. Suffice it to say that we emerged victorious over entropy. To celebrate, we headed on over to Aeronaut’s beer garden to relax.

Brian is many things, but “selfie king” is not one of them.

Brian is many things, but “selfie king” is not one of them.

Hui Si’s “postdoc hands” in action.

Hui Si’s “postdoc hands” in action.

  • And with that, summer is over and fall is here. We’re looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring. Any G1s reading this blog? If so, we’ll point you to our Open House later this month on 9/20. We’ll have everything you could possibly want: free food, dank memes, alcohol, and more free food. Raise a glass.

  • We’ll leave you with one final nugget of wisdom from Professor Liau himself:

 
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Ally and Kevin present at the Broad!

This morning the lab had the exciting opportunity to present at the Broad Institute’s Cell Circuits and Epigenomics meeting! Ally and Kevin served as our representatives, talking about their work studying LSD1 and DNMT1, respectively.

Ally talks about our lab’s work studying the lysine demethylase, LSD1. If you haven’t already, check out our paper in  Nature Chemical Biology !

Ally talks about our lab’s work studying the lysine demethylase, LSD1. If you haven’t already, check out our paper in Nature Chemical Biology!

Kevin fields questions from an eager scientist after his talk.

Kevin fields questions from an eager scientist after his talk.

Many thanks to Cell Circuits and Epigenomics for including us in their community and letting us share some of our exciting findings. Until next time!

 
Let’s hear some applause for our speakers!

Let’s hear some applause for our speakers!

 

A new chapter for the Liau Lab

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With our group practically doubling in size over the past year, it was about time for us to take a new group photo. Many thanks to Beverly Fu from the Balskus lab for helping us with the shoot! After many failed attempts marred by blinking eyes and blocked faces, we finally got a good shot, full of smiles and Brian’s signature "boss” pose.

 
 
 
 

If you follow us on twitter or have been obsessively checking our website (who could blame you?) you may have noticed some updates over the past few months on our publications page. That’s right – the lab’s first two papers are out in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and Nature Chemical Biology. Click on the paper titles above to check out these awesome works, which really showcase two of the major and ongoing focuses of our lab.

 
The LSD1 project was (and still is) a huge, interdisciplinary endeavor that required the coordinated efforts of many members of our lab (as well as collaborators) in a diverse array of fields. Here, the core members of the LSD1 team celebrate a hard-won success. Congratulations!

The LSD1 project was (and still is) a huge, interdisciplinary endeavor that required the coordinated efforts of many members of our lab (as well as collaborators) in a diverse array of fields. Here, the core members of the LSD1 team celebrate a hard-won success. Congratulations!

 

In the midst of these exciting events, we’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to our wonderful laboratory manager, Larry Valles, who has moved on to serve as a Junior Operations Manager for Immunology, Microbiology, and Genetics at Harvard Medical School. While we’ll miss him, we’re also happy that he has accepted this great opportunity and wish him the best! We’ll always remember Larry for supporting us through the trials and tribulations of research.

Larry (a.k.a. “molecule”), purveyor of doughnuts and bagels and harbinger of diabetes.

Larry (a.k.a. “molecule”), purveyor of doughnuts and bagels and harbinger of diabetes.

In a bittersweet way, 2019 is proving to be a big year of change for the Liau lab. We’re looking forward to everything the future has to offer, and we can’t wait to share more of our scientific and non-scientific exploits with the world!

Fall 2018 retrospective

Happy New Year from the Liau Lab! It’s been quiet in the lab the past few weeks, but we’re starting to get into the gear of the new year. In the spirit, however, of holiday season reflection (and since a blog post is severely overdue!) we’ll be taking a look at some of the highlights of fall 2018. Buckle in, cause it’s gonna be a long ride.

First up, the Mid-Autumn Festival! The group celebrated with some tea and mooncakes, courtesy of Cindy.

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Not too long after that came another reason to celebrate, when Ally passed her preliminary qualifying exam! Congratulations, Ally!

 
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Speaking of celebrations, we all got more than our fair share of cake with all the birthdays happening in the fall…

For Thanksgiving, Brian graciously welcomed us to his home for a potluck party. As with all potlucks, the quality of the experience is only as good as the quality of cooking your guests can achieve, but luckily for us, we have lots of talented chefs in our lab!

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Warning: don’t view the following slideshow on an empty stomach…

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…it was a fun night. Of course, in addition to all this eating, we did manage to get some work done. Our lab loves next-generation sequencing, but it’s not every day that we buy a brand new kit. As Kevin found out, they come packaged in huge boxes. Big boxes for big science, right?

 

As many of you might know, one big focus of our lab is studying the 3D organization of the genome. It’s not something you think about every day, but how the cell fits 2 meters of DNA inside its nucleus is pretty mindblowing. We got the opportunity to share our science with local students, crafting some interactive displays to help illustrate what we do and why we do it. Thank you to the Harvard Ed Portal, and to Brian, Shelby, and Allison for organizing this!

To close out 2018, we enjoyed a holiday party hosted by Brian, where we once again ate plenty of food. Highlights of the evening included a 2018 year-in-review slideshow, as well as a rousing game of white elephant. Here are some highlights from the evening:

And here we are, at the beginning of another year. As we all try to shake off the holiday stupor and get back to work, one thing’s for certain: the new year has much more food in store. After all, we are the Liau Lab.

 
 

And with that, thanks for reading! We’re looking forward to some exciting stuff in 2019, and we can’t wait to share it. Until next time :)

Synthetic chemists enter tissue culture

As any synthetic chemistry lab does, we all appreciate a high enantiomeric or diastereomeric excess. However, generating multiple substrates in one flask has proven to be quite useful as YP and Amanda begin to test some of the compounds that they have been working on over the past few months. Also pictured in the foreground is Kevin, who is, in general quite excited about biology.  Cindy is also in this picture somewhere...

As any synthetic chemistry lab does, we all appreciate a high enantiomeric or diastereomeric excess. However, generating multiple substrates in one flask has proven to be quite useful as YP and Amanda begin to test some of the compounds that they have been working on over the past few months. Also pictured in the foreground is Kevin, who is, in general quite excited about biology.  Cindy is also in this picture somewhere...

Winter Has Arrived in Cambridge

We've been preparing for hibernation this winter by bulking up with chocolate and food at various holiday parties. One of the well-known caveats of joining an interdisciplinary research group is access to multiple department holiday parties.

In addition, the first-year graduate students (aka G1s) have been settling nicely into the group since officially joining in December. As Brian's first round of students, it is an understatement to say that we are excited to help create a culture that will last for years to come. For those of us that are interested by the history of the department, it has been quite the pleasure to work in the space of what used to be the storied lab of Prof. Dave Evans. However, we are very much looking forward to moving into our new space in just a few months (pictures will follow!).