Location: Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's & Neurodegenerative Diseases



Liang Ma

Assistant Professor/Research

Personal Statement:

Neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) and neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) are highly heritable diseases. The long-term goal of my lab is to bridge neurogenetics and neurobiology by determining risk genes/transcripts across a range of human brain diseases, and investigate which and how genomic variations affect gene transcriptions and further contribute to diseases’ risk.

My research interest focuses on identifying causative genomic variations, genes, and splicing transcripts of human polygenic diseases using genome-wide association study (GWAS), whole-genome sequencing (WGS), RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq, and DNA methylation. Using cutting-edge integrative omics approaches, I have identified a list of functional genetic variants and gene domains (e.g., SNX19, CYP2D6) that potentially increase the risk of schizophrenia. Another research interest of my lab is performing genome editing on neural stem cells of their identified genomic targets, followed by genome editing of human iPS cell lines, and differentiated them to functional neurons and glia for mechanism investigation. The results will help provide accurate molecular targets to guide the future development of precise and effective therapeutics.


07/2014 - 06/2017, Postdoctoral fellow, Lieber Institute for Brain Development, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
07/2017 – 11/2017, Postdoctoral fellow, School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
12/2017 – 01/2019, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine
02/2019 – 08/2020, Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine

2014 - PhD. - Genetics - University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
2010 - M.S. - Genetics - Northwest A&F University
2007 - B.S. - Animal Science - Shanxi Agricultural University


First-author publications:

Ma L*, Scherbina A, Chetty S*. (2020) Variations and expression features of CYP2D6 contribute to schizophrenia risk. Molecular Psychiatry. PMID: 32047265 *Corresponding author

Ma L, Semick SA, Chen Q, Li C, Tao R, Price AJ, Shin JH, Jia Y, BrainSeq Consortium, Brandon NJ, Cross AJ, Hyde TM, Kleinman JE, Jaffe AE, Weinberger DR, Straub RE. (2019) Schizophrenia risk variants influence multiple classes of transcripts of sorting nexin 19 (SNX19). Molecular Psychiatry. PMID: 30635639

Ma L, Jia P, Zhao Z (2018) Splicing QTL of human adipose-related traits. Scientific Reports 8:318. PMID: 29321599

Ma L, Wu DD, Ma SL, Tan L, Chen X, Tang NL, Yao YG (2014) Molecular evolution in the CREB1 signal pathway and a rare haplotype in CREB1 with genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatric Research 57:84-89. PMID: 25043418

Ma L, Tang J, Wang D, Zhang W, Liu W, Liu XH, Gong W, Yao YG, Chen X (2013) Evaluating risk loci for schizophrenia distilled from genome-wide association studies in Han Chinese from central China. Molecular Psychiatry 18: 638-639. PMID: 22584866

Ma L, Zhang W, Tang J, Tan L, Yao YG, Chen X (2013) No association between genetic polymorphisms of the NDUFS7 gene and schizophrenia in Han Chinese. Psychiatric Genetics 23: 29-32. PMID: 22935918

Ma L, Qu YJ, Huai YT, Li ZJ, Wang J, Lan XY, Zhang CL, Wang JQ, Chen H (2011) Polymorphisms identification and associations of KLF7 gene with cattle growth traits. Livestock Science 135: 1-7

Co-author publications:

Price AJ, Collado-Torres L, Ivanov NA, Xia W, Burke EE, Shin JH, Tao R, Ma L, Jia Y, Hyde TM, Kleinman JE, Weinberger DR, Jaffe AE (2018) Divergent neuronal DNA methylation patterns across human cortical development: Critical periods and a unique role of CpH methylation. Genome Biology 20:196. PMID: 31554518

Tenenbaum JD, Bhuvaneshwar K, Gagliardi JP, Hollis KF, Jia P, Ma L, Nagarajan R, Rakesh G, Subbian V, Visweswaran S, Zhao Z, Rozenblit L (2017) Translational bioinformatics in mental health: open access data sources and computational biomarker discovery. Briefings in Bioinformatics. PMID: 29186302

Su LY, Li H, Lv L, Feng YM, Li GD, Luo R, Zhou HJ, Lei XG, Ma L, Li JL, Xu L, Hu XT, Yao YG (2015) Melatonin attenuates MPTP-induced neurotoxicity via preventing CDK5-mediated autophagy and SNCA/α-synuclein aggregation. Autophagy 11:1745-1759. PMID: 26292069

Qu Y, Liu Y, Ma L, Sweeney S, Lan X, Chen Z, Li Z, Lei C, Chen H (2011) Novel SNPs of butyrophilin (BTN1A1) and milk fat globule epidermal growth factor (EGF) 8 (MFG-E8) are associated with milk traits in dairy goat. Molecular Biology Reports 38: 371-377. PMID: 20361262