Jonathan T. C. Liu

Bryan T. McMinn Endowed Professorship
Mechanical Engineering


Jonathan Liu was born in Albany, NY and raised in Honolulu, HI, where he attended the Iolani School. Jonathan received degrees in mechanical engineering at Princeton and Stanford. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of electrical engineering (Ginzton Labs) and the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, and was later appointed as an instructor within the Stanford University School of Medicine. Jonathan spent four years as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook prior to moving to the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington in 2014.


  • 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. These endeavors require multi-disciplinary advances in optical devices, contrast agents, image processing, and preclinical/clinical studies. For example, the lab is developing miniature optical-sectioning microscopy devices and molecularly 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 spectral imaging devices in conjunction with biomarker-targeted nanoparticles for the endoscopic visualization of large panels of disease biomarkers (molecular phenotyping). Finally, the lab is developing advanced microscopy techniques to enable slide-free nondestructive molecular 3D pathology. This has the potential to significantly improve upon current “gold-standard” diagnostic pathology methods and ultimately to optimize treatment decisions and patient outcomes.

Select publications

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Y. Wang, J.D. Doerksen, S. Kang, D. Walsh, Q. Yang, D. Hong, and J.T.C. Liu, "Multiplexed molecular imaging of fresh tissue surfaces enabled by convection-enhanced topical staining with SERS-coded nanoparticles," Small 12, 5612 (2016).
  4. A. Glaser, Y. Chen, and J.T.C. Liu, "Fractal propagation method enables realistic optical microscopy simulations in biological tissues," Optica 3, 861 (2016).
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. K.M. Tichauer, Y. Wang, Brian W. Pogue, and J.T.C. Liu, "Quantitative in vivo cell-surface receptor imaging in oncology: kinetic modeling & paired-agent principles from nuclear medicine and optical imaging," Physics in Medicine and Biology 60, R239 (2015).
  8. 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

  • Bryan T. McMinn Endowed Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, Univ. of Washington (2016–2019)
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, 12/2013, Stony Brook University
  • K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2009–2014, NIH / NIBIB
  • Top Oral Presentation Award, 2009, Center for Biomedical Imaging at Stanford (CBIS) symposia
  • 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