Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2015
Home Department: Biochemistry
Faculty Advisors: James Spudich (Biochemistry) and Beth Pruitt (Mechanical Engineering)

Research Title: Modulating the heart's contractility by small molecule drugs and cardiomyopathy mutations in single molecules of human cardiac myosin

Research Description: Mutations in cardiac myosin cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Photo of Chao Liu.the most common inherited disease of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death, yet the underlying disease mechanisms are unclear. Cardiac myosin is the force-producing molecular motor driving heart muscle contraction, so mutations in myosin may change fundamental parameters of force production. Chao measures these parameters for single mutant and wildtype myosin molecules using the optical trap. The rationale is that once it is known how mutations affect these parameters, myosin force production may be re-normalized pharmacologically, creating drugs that treat the cardiomyopathy at the source.


Chao is a staff scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.