Qili Liu, PhD

Assistant Professor


Animals can exhibit hunger for not only calories but also specific nutrients, which energize behaviors to search for and ingest particular types of food in response to internal nutritional deficiency. My lab aims to understand the neurobiological basis of nutrient-specific appetite, and investigate how does hunger for specific nutrients interact with each other to ensure that a balanced diet is consumed. To this end, we will harness the power of Drosophila model system and employ a multidisciplinary approach including large-scale genetic and behavioral analyses, immunohistochemistry, functional imaging, and patch-clamp electrophysiology. These studies will shed light on the fundamental principles for the organization and modulation of motivated behaviors. Given the global obesity epidemic, illuminating the regulation of food choice guided by nutrient specific appetite may facilitate the development of novel therapeutic treatments for obesity. 


  • What are the cellular and molecular substrates mediating the homeostatic negative feedback for protein feeding? 
  • How does protein specific hunger interact with general hunger and regulate total energy consumption? 
  • How is the goal (homeostatic setpoint) for motivated behaviors determined and presented in the brain? And how is individual variability in goal values encoded? 
  • How is compartmentalized signal processing achieved within individual neurons? 


Carrie Shao
Undergraduate Research Assistant
[email protected]

Nick Allen
Undergraduate Research Assistant
[email protected]

Lab Website