Johnson Liu

UTAS Home Dr Johnson Liu

Johnson Liu

Adjunct Researcher

Pharmacy Building, Sandy Bay Campus

Career summary


  • PhD, South China Agricultural University, China, 2000, Pharmacology
  • MSc, Northwest A&F University, China, 1993, Veterinary Medicine
  • BSc, Northwest A&F University, China, 1990, Veterinary Medicine


Dr Liu obtained his PhD in Pharmacology in 2000 from South China Agricultural University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Medicine, the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Since 2004, he has served as a Research Fellow and Lecturer for the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology and now at the University of Tasmania. He is a Unit Coordinator, Course Coordinator and Academic Coordinator of Medicines Australia CEP program, with a teaching portfolio consisting of pharmacology, pharmaceutical science and related biomedicine subjects for undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

As a principal investigator and the Group Leader of Cancer Pharmacology Research Group, he has research interests in cancer pharmacology, molecular pharmacology, experimental therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, drug transport & delivery, targeted therapy and systems pharmacology.

Research Themes

Dr Liu's research into prevention and management of chronic disease aligns with the University's research theme of Better Health. His major research interests focus on pharmacological and pharmaceutical sciences. He has particular interests in cancer pharmacology, molecular pharmacology, experimental therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, drug transport & delivery, targeted therapy and systems pharmacology.


Professional practice

  • Member of Australia Society of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacologists & Toxicologists (ASCEPT)
  • Member of American Association for Cancer Research

Administrative expertise

  • Treasurer of ASCEPT New Zealand section
  • NHRMC Project Grant Assessor


pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, internal medicine, toxicology, quality use of medicines, pharmaceutical industry regulations, research methodology, cancer pharmacology, molecular toxicology

Teaching expertise

Dr Liu has taught a variety of service units in biomedical science, including pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, internal medicine, toxicology, quality use of medicines, pharmaceutical industry regulations and research methodology, for undergraduate programs of health professions (Pharmacy, Nursing, Midwifery, Medicine & Paramedicine) and biomedical sciences.

He also teaches specialised units in cancer pharmacology and molecular toxicology for postgraduate programs.

He obtained his Graduate Certificate in University Learning & Teaching at University of Tasmania, with a pedagogical research interest in the evaluation of e-Learning.

Teaching responsibility

Course Coordinator:

Unit Coordinator/Lecturer:

Research Invitations

Dr Liu is an invited speaker to international conferences

View more on Dr Johnson Liu in WARP


  • WNT signalling in colorectal cancer: functional assays and development of small molecules
  • Gene function study for drug transporters: gene cloning, expression, knockdown, qPCR and related activity assays
  • Exosome-based drug delivery: isolation, characterization and functional assays of exosomes
  • New anticancer drug development: in vitro models (normal, cancerous and recombinant cell lines, primary culture), cytotoxicity assays (MTT, TUNEL, FACS flow cytometry), tumour histology and in vivo animal models of human cancer and neurotoxicity
  • Chromatography-based drug analysis: HPLC-UV, LC/MS, GC/MS and ICP-MS
  • Antibody-based protein detection: Western blot, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, fluorescence microscope & Confocal microscopy


Dr Liu's research collaborators include Professors Geraghty D (University of Tasmania), Mercer J (Deakin University), McKeage M (University of Auckland), Chen M (Xi'an Jiaotong University) and Dr Nott L (Royal Hobart Hospital).

Current projects

Dr Liu is a Principal Investigator and the Group Leader of Cancer Pharmacology Research Group.

Research projects include:

  1. Profiling of membrane drug transporters in colorectal cancer patients
  2. Targeting copper transporters and organic cation transporters
  3. WNT signalling-targeted therapy
  4. Exosome-based drug delivery and platinum anticancer drug-induced neuropathy
  5. Antitvascular and metal-based anticancer drug development

Fields of Research

  • Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (111502)
  • Veterinary Pharmacology (070710)
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences (111504)
  • Basic Pharmacology (111501)
  • Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences (111599)
  • Molecular Targets (111207)
  • Oncology and Carcinogenesis (111299)
  • Chemotherapy (111205)
  • Toxicology (incl. Clinical Toxicology) (111506)

Research Objectives

  • Cancer and Related Disorders (920102)
  • Health (929999)
  • Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) (920599)
  • Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences (970111)
  • Pigs (830308)
  • Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) (920499)
  • Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) (920199)


Dr Liu has published >30 peer-reviewed papers in various pharmacology and medical journals, including Current Cancer Drug Targets, Biochemical Pharmacology, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and the British Journal of Cancer.

He is Review Editor for Frontiers in Nutrition, and a manuscript reviewer for several international journals.

Total publications


Journal Article

(24 outputs)
2015Cui H, Zhang AJ, Chen M, Liu JJ, 'ABC transporter inhibitors in reversing multidrug resistance to chemotherapy', Current Drug Targets, 16, (12) pp. 1356-1371. ISSN 1389-4501 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.2174/1389450116666150330113506 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 8

Co-authors: Cui H


2015Wang T, Chen T, Thakur A, Liang Y, Gao L, et al., 'Association of PSMA4 polymorphisms with lung cancer susceptibility and response to cisplatin-based chemotherapy in a Chinese Han population', Clinical and Translational Oncology, 17, (7) pp. 564-569. ISSN 1699-048X (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s12094-015-1279-x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1


2015Zhang S, Thakur A, Liang Y, Wang T, Gao L, et al., 'Polymorphisms in C-reactive protein and Glypican-5 are associated with lung cancer risk and Gartrokine-1 influences Cisplatin-based chemotherapy response in a Chinese Han population', Disease Markers Article 824304. ISSN 0278-0240 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1155/2015/824304 [eCite] [Details]


2015Yan F, Liu JJ, Ip V, Jamieson SM, McKeage MJ, 'Role of platinum DNA damage-induced transcriptional inhibition in chemotherapy-induced neuronal atrophy and peripheral neurotoxicity', Journal of Neurochemistry, 135, (6) pp. 1099-112. ISSN 0022-3042 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/jnc.13355 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1


2014Gao L, Thakur A, Liang Y, Zhang S, Wang T, et al., 'Polymorphisms in the TERT gene are associated with lung cancer risk in the Chinese Han population', European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 23, (6) pp. 497-501. ISSN 0959-8278 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000086 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 10Web of Science - 10


2013Ip V, Liu JJ, McKeage MJ, 'Evaluation of effects of copper histidine on copper transporter 1-mediated accumulation of platinum and oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity in vitro and in vivo', Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 40, (6) pp. 371-378. ISSN 0305-1870 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1440-1681.12088 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6Web of Science - 6


2013Liu JJ, Kim y, Yan F, Ding Q, Ip V, et al., 'Contributions of rat Ctr1 to the uptake and toxicity of copper and platinum anticancer drugs in dorsal root ganglion neurons', Biochemical Pharmacology, 85, (2) pp. 207-215. ISSN 0006-2952 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2012.10.023 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 16Web of Science - 15


2012Liu JJ, Lu J, McKeage MJ, 'Membrane transporters as determinants of the pharmacology of platinum anticancer drugs', Current Cancer Drug Targets, 12, (8) pp. 962-986. ISSN 1568-0096 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.2174/156800912803251199 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 34Web of Science - 33


2011Jong NN, Nakanishi T, Liu JJ, Tamai I, McKeage MJ, 'Oxaliplatin transport mediated by organic cation/carnitine transporters OCTN1 and OCTN2 in overexpressing human embryonic kidney 293 cells and rat dorsal root ganglion neurons', Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 338 pp. 537-547. ISSN 0022-3565 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1124/jpet.111.181297 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 55Web of Science - 50


2010Ip V, Liu JJ, Mercer JFB, McKeage MJ, 'Differential expression of ATP7A, ATP7B and CTR1 in adult rat dorsal root ganglion tissue', Molecular pain, 6, (53) pp. 1-10. ISSN 1744-8069 (2010) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8069-6-53 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 21Web of Science - 18


2009Jamieson SMF, Subramaniam J, Liu JJ, Jong NN, Connor B, et al., 'Oxaliplatin-induced loss of phosphorylated heavy neurofilament subunit neuronal immunoreactivity in rat DRG tissue', Molecular Pain, 5, (66) pp. 1-9. ISSN 1744-8069 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8069-5-66 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 16


2009Liu JJ, Jamiesom SMF, Subramaniam J, Ip V, Jong NN, et al., 'Neuronal expression of copper transporter 1 in rat dorsal root ganglia: association with platinum neurotoxicity', Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 64, (4) pp. 847-856. ISSN 0344-5704 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00280-009-1017-6 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 34Web of Science - 30


2008Bell DN, Liu JJ, Tingle MD, Rattel B, Meyer TU, et al., 'Comparative protein binding, stability and degradation of Satraplatin, JM118 and Cisplatin in human plasma in vitro', Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 35 pp. 1440-1446. ISSN 0305-1870 (2008) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2008.05017.x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 16Web of Science - 17


2008Ip V, McKeage MJ, Thompson P, Damianovich D, Findlay M, et al., 'Platinum-specific detection and quantification of oxaliplatin and Pt(R,R-diaminocyclohexane)Cl2 in the blood plasma of colorectal cancer patients', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 23 pp. 881-884. ISSN 0267-9477 (2008) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1039/b716925f [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 13


2008Liu JJ, Galettis P, Farr A, Maharaj L, Samarasinha H, et al., 'In vitro antitumour and hepatotoxicity profiles of Au(I) and Ag(I) bidentate pyridyl phosphine complexes and relationships to cellular uptake', Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, 102, (2) pp. 303-310. ISSN 0162-0134 (2008) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2007.09.003 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 123Web of Science - 115


2007Jamieson SMF, Liu JJ, Connor B, Dragunaw M, McKeage MJ, 'Nucleolar enlargement, nuclear eccentricity and altered cell body immunostaining characteristics of large-sized sensory neurons following treatment of rats with paclitaxel', NeuroToxicology, 28, (6) pp. 1092-1098. ISSN 1872-9711 (2007) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2007.04.009 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 22Web of Science - 20


2007Liu JJ, Ching L, Goldthorpe M, Sutherland R, Baguley BC, et al., 'Antitumour action of 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid in rats bearing chemically induced primary mammary tumours', Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 59, (5) pp. 661-669. ISSN 1432-0843 (2007) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00280-006-0321-7 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 18Web of Science - 16


2006Bell DN, Liu JJ, Tingle MD, McKeage MJ, 'Specific determination of intact cisplatin and monohydrated cisplatin in human plasma and culture medium ultrafiltrates using HPLC on-line with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry', Journal of Chromatography B, 837, (1-2) pp. 29-34. ISSN 1873-376X (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2006.03.063 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 30Web of Science - 24


2006Jiang HX, Zeng ZL, Chen ZL, Liu JJ, Fung KF, 'Pharmacokinetics of florfenicol in pigs following intravenous, intramuscular or oral administration and the effects of feed intake on oral dosing', Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 29, (2) pp. 153-156. ISSN 0140-7783 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2885.2006.00727.x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 14Web of Science - 15


2005Jamieson SMF, Liu JJ, Connor B, Mckeage MJ, 'Oxaliplatin causes selective atrophy of a subpopulation of dorsal root ganglion neurons without inducing cell loss', Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 56, (4) pp. 391-399. ISSN 1432-0843 (2005) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00280-004-0953-4 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 55Web of Science - 48


2004Liu JJ, Kestell P, Findlay M, Riley G, Ackland S, et al., 'Application of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to monitoring plasma cyclophosphamide levels in phase 1 trial cancer patients', Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 31, (10) pp. 677-682. ISSN 0305-1870 (2004) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2004.03065.x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8Web of Science - 8


2003Jamieson SMF, Liu JJ, Hsu T, Baguley BC, McKeage MJ, 'Paclitaxel induces nucleolar enlargement in dorsal root ganglion neurons in vivo reducing oxaliplatin toxicity', British Journal of Cancer, 88 pp. 1942-1947. ISSN 0007-0920 (2003) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2003Liu JJ, Fung KF, Chen Z, Zeng Z, Zhang J, 'Pharmacokinetics of Florfenicol in Healthy Pigs and in Pigs Experimentally Infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae', Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, (February) pp. 820-823. ISSN 0066-4804 (2003) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2002Liu JJ, Fung KF, Chen ZL, Zeng ZL, Zhang J, 'Tissue pharmacokinetics of florfenicol in pigs experimentally infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae', European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, 27, (4) pp. 265-271. ISSN 0378-7966 (2002) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/BF03192337 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 6


Grants & Funding

Dr Liu's research projects receive funding support from:

  • Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation
  • Cancer Council Tasmania
  • University of Tasmania
  • Cancer Society of New Zealand
  • University of Auckland
  • NM McBeath Child Cancer Research Fund
  • Auckland Medical Research Foundation

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Bi-functional opioids as a novel cancer treatment (2015)$6,567
The aim of our study is to assess the anticancer effect of our 10 novel opioid drugs in six different intestinal cancer cell lines and compare them with oxaliplatin and irinotecan. The particular objectives of the study are:1. To evaluate the effect of our novel drugs on intestinal cancer cell viability, growth, proliferation and ability to form colonies.2. To explore the molecular mechanisms of the anticancer activity of our novel drugs.
Cancer Council of Tasmania ($6,567)
Grant-Cancer Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Dietis ND; Liu JJ; Holloway AF; Guven N
Profiling and functional studies of drug transporters in colorectal cancer: a pilot study in Tasmanian patients. (2015)$21,980
Tumour resistance severely limits the usuefulness of chemothera0py for colorectal cancer. It is caused by compromised drug accumulation in tumour cells. We will chareacterise the expression and function of drug transporters in colorectal cancer to identify potential therapeutic targets to overcome the resistance of chemotherapy.
Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation ($21,980)
Grant-Clinical Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Nott LM; Liu JJ; Geraghty DP
Targeting drug transporters in colorectal cancer (2014)$10,000
This project will have outcomes that will be of benefit to understanding drug transporters in colorectal cancer.
Cancer Council of Tasmania ($10,000)
Grant-Cancer Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Liu JJ; Geraghty DP

Research Supervision

To date, he has trained 4 PhD, 12 MSc/Honours, 3 postdoctoral staff and several visiting doctors.




PhDThe Role of Copper Transporters in In Vitro Cytotoxicity of Oxaliplatin and Their Expression in Colorectal Cancer2013