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SRI Profiles

Stanley K. Liu, PhD, MD, FRCPC

Senior scientist

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Ave., Room T2 142
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4998
Fax: 416-480-6002

Administrative Assistant: Stacy Yuen
Phone: 416-480-4998


  • B.Sc. (Hons), biochemistry, Queen's University, Canada
  • PhD, cell and molecular biology, medical biophysics, University of Toronto, Canada
  • MD, U of T
  • FRCPC, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, University of Oxford, U.K.

Appointments and affiliations:

  • Scientist, Biological SciencesOdette Cancer Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Radiation oncologist, department of radiation oncology, Sunnybrook
  • Associate professor, department of medical biophysics, U of T
  • Associate professor, department of radiation oncology, U of T

Research areas:

  • MicroRNA and radiation response
  • MicroRNA as biomarkers to improve prostate cancer detection and management

Research summary:

The aim of Dr. Liu's research is to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients by uncovering the mechanisms of tumour radiation resistance. More than 50% of cancer patients will receive radiotherapy sometime during their treatment; thus, it is important to research ways to improve the efficacy of this treatment.

To accomplish this our lab is investigating the following:

1. MicroRNA (miR) that are involved in the radiation response

MicroRNA are short, noncoding RNA that can regulate the expression of downstream genes. Their expression patterns are changed in response to ionizing radiation, but their role in radiation response is unclear. Our lab has identified miR-95 as a novel mediator of tumour radiation resistance that targets the sphingosine-1-phosphate pathway. We are elucidating the mechanism of several candidate miR that are involved in mediating cellular response to radiation. Additionally, to aid in personalized treatment decisions, we are investigating miR expression levels as predictive biomarkers for tumour aggression.

2. MicroRNA as biomarkers in prostate cancer

microRNA are detectable in patient biofluids (e.g., blood, urine, saliva) and tumours, and are inherently stable, making them excellent biomarkers. We believe that urinary miR are an ideal source of potential biomarkers since urine is readily obtainable and noninvasive. microRNA may also be used as predictive biomarkers to identify more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Thus, we are determining whether testing for specific miR in urine obtained after a prostate exam can predict tumour aggression. If proven, then this might allow the early identification of patients with aggressive prostate cancer so that appropriate treatment decisions can be made.

3. Minimizing toxicity from radiation treatment

Damage to blood vessels resulting from radiotherapy is believed to limit delivery of oxygen and nutrients to normal tissues. Thus, protection of the vasculature against irradiation-induced death may minimize radiation toxicity. We are targeting the vasculature to improve the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy by protecting the vasculature and angiogenic potential, thereby decreasing radiation toxicity delivered to normal tissues.

Selected publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

  1. Hoey C, Ray J, Jeon J, Huang X, Taeb S, Ylanko J, Andrews DW, Boutros PC, Liu SK. MiRNA-106a and prostate cancer radioresistance: a novel role for LITAF in ATM regulation. Molecular Oncology. 2018. 
  2. Mesci A, Huang X, Taeb S, Jahangiri S, Kim Y, Fokas E, Bruce J, Leong HS, Liu SK. Targeting of CCBE1 by miR-330-3p in human breast cancer promotes metastasis. Br J Cancer. 2017 May 9;116(10):1350–7.
  3. Fotouhi Ghiam A, Taeb S, Huang X, Huang V, Ray J, Scarcello S, Hoey C, Jahangiri S, Fokas E, Loblaw A, Bristow RG, Vesprini D, Boutros P, Liu SK. Long non-coding RNA urothelial carcinoma associated 1 (UCA1) mediates radiation response in prostate cancer. Oncotarget. 2017 Jan 17;8(3):4668–89.
  4. Huang X, Taeb S, Jahangiri S, Korpela E, Cadonic I, Yu N, Krylov S, Fokas E, Boutros P, Liu SK. miR-620 promotes tumor radioresistance by targeting 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (HPGD). Oncotarget. 2015;6(26):22439.
  5. Korpela E, Yohan D, Chin LC, Kim A, Huan X, Sade S, van Slyke P, Dumont DJ, Liu SK. Vasculotide, an Angiopoietin-1 mimetic, reduces acute skin ionizing radiation damage in a preclinical mouse model. BMC Cancer. 2014 Aug 26;14(1):614.

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