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Jonathan T. C. Liu

Faculty Photo

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Adjunct Associate Professor

Adjunct Associate Professor
Laboratory Medicine and Pathology


Dr. Jonathan Liu received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Princeton in 1999, followed by a masters and doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2000 and 2005, respectively. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) from 2005–2010, and then transitioned to an assistant professorship at Stony Brook University from 2010-2014.  Dr. Liu is currently a professor at the University of Washington where his molecular biophotonics laboratory develops high-resolution optical imaging and analysis strategies for surgical guidance and clinical decision support (precision medicine).


  • Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2005
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2000
  • BSE in Mechanical Engineering / Engineering Physics, Princeton University, 1999

Previous appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Stony Brook University, 2010-2014
  • Instructor, Stanford University School of Medicine, 2009-2010
  • Postdoc, Stanford University Electrical Engineering and School of Medicine, 2005-2009

Research Statement

Jonathan Liu is director of the Molecular Biophotonics Laboratory, which is developing optical strategies for biomedical diagnostics and therapy guidance. The goals of the lab are highly translational and multi-disciplinary, with a specific focus on optomechanical design and instrumentation, contrast agents, image processing, machine learning, and preclinical/clinical validation. For example, the lab is developing miniature optical-sectioning microscopy devices with targeted contrast agents to enable the early detection of cancer and to guide the surgical resection of tumors. These technologies have the potential to revolutionize patient care by providing surgeons with a real-time alternative to invasive biopsy and histopathology. In addition, the lab is developing novel open-top light-sheet (OTLS) microscope devices, in conjunction with automated tissue-processing systems (optical clearing and fluorescence labeling), and tissue-manipulation strategies, to enable slide-free nondestructive 3D pathology of clinical specimens (biopsies and surgical excisions). This has the potential to greatly improve treatment decisions and patient outcomes.

Select publications

  1. J.T.C. Liu, A.K. Glaser, K. Bera, L.D. True, N.P. Reder, K.W. Eliceiri, and A. Madabhushi, “Harnessing nondestructive 3D pathology,” Nature Biomedical Engineering (2021)
  2. C. Mao, M.Y. Lee, J. Jhan, A.R. Halpern, M.A. Woodworth, A.K. Glaser, T.J. Chozinski, L. Shin, J.W. Pippin, S.J. Shankland, J.T.C. Liu, and J.C. Vaughan, “Feature-rich covalent stains for super-resolution and cleared-tissue fluorescence microscopy,” Science Advances 6, eaba4542 (2020)
  3. A.K. Glaser, N.P. Reder, Y. Chen, C. Yin, L. Wei, S. Kang, L.A. Barner, W. Xie, E.F. McCarty, C. Mao, A.R. Halpern, C.R. Stoltzfus, J.S. Daniels, M.Y. Gerner, P.R. Nicovich, J.C. Vaughan, L.D. True, and J.T.C. Liu, "Multi-immersion open-top light-sheet microscope for high-throughput imaging of cleared tissues," Nature Communications 10, 2781 (2019)
  4. L. Wei, C. Yin, Y. Fujita, N. Sanai, and J.T.C. Liu, "Handheld line-scanned dual-axis confocal microscope with pistoned MEMS actuation for flat-field fluorescence imaging," Opt. Lett. 44, 671 (2019)
  5. Y. Chen, W. Xie, A.K. Glaser, N.P. Reder, C. Mao, S.M. Dintzis, J.C. Vaughan, and J.T.C. Liu, "Rapid pathology of lumpectomy margins with open-top light-sheet (OTLS) microscopy," Biomed. Opt. Exp. 10, 1257 (2019)
  6. Y. Wang, N.P. Reder, S. Kang, A.K. Glaser, Q. Yang, M.A. Wall, S.H. Javid, S.M. Dintzis, and J.T.C. Liu, "Raman-encoded molecular imaging (REMI) with topically applied SERS nanoparticles for intraoperative guidance of lumpectomy," Cancer Research 77, 4506 (2017).
  7. A.K. Glaser, N.P. Reder, Y. Chen, E.F. McCarty, C. Yin, L. Wei, Y. Wang, L.D. True, and J.T.C. Liu, "Light-sheet microscopy for slide-free nondestructive pathology of large clinical specimens," Nature Biomedical Engineering 1, 0084 (2017).
  8. C. Yin, A.K. Glaser, S.Y. Leigh, Y. Chen, Linpeng Wei, P.C.S. Pillai, M. Rosenberg, S. Abeytunge, G. Peterson, C. Glazowski, N. Sanai, M.J. Mandella, M. Rajadhyaksha, and J.T.C. Liu, "A miniature in vivo MEMS-based line-scanned dual-axis confocal microscope for point-of-care pathology," Biomed Opt. Exp. 7, 251 (2016).
  9. Y. Wang, S. Kang, A. Khan, P. Bao, and J.T.C. Liu, "In vivo multiplexed molecular imaging of esophageal cancer via spectral endoscopy of topically applied SERS nanoparticles," Biomed. Opt. Exp. 6, 3714 (2015).
  10. C. Zavaleta, E. Garai, J.T.C. Liu, S. Sensarn, M.J. Mandella, D. Van de Sompel, S. Friedland, J. Van Dam, C.H. Contag, and S.S. Gambhir, "A Raman-based endoscopic strategy for multiplexed molecular imaging," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 2288 (2013).

Honors & awards

  • UW College of Engineering Team Award (2018), Engineering Innovation in Health (EiH) instructional team: Jonathan Liu, Jonathan Posner, Kat Steele, Eric Seibel
  • Bryan T. McMinn Endowed Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, Univ. of Washington (2016–2020)
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, 12/2013, Stony Brook University
  • K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2009–2014, NIH / NIBIB
  • Canary Foundation / American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship award, 2005–2008
  • AIAA Wright Brothers Graduate Award, 2003
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship Award, 1999–2002
  • Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi Book Award, 1999, Princeton University
  • Sau-Hai Lam *58 Prize as the top graduate in mechanical and aerospace engineering, 1999, Princeton University