Liqin Zhao, Ph.D.

Liqin Zhao, Ph.D.

Liqin Zhao, Ph.D.

Dr. Zhao received her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Beijing Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology.  Prior to joining KU in 2013, she was a Research Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Southern California (USC), where she also served as the Director of the Translational Research Laboratory as well as Core Facilities and Services.  Dr. Zhao’s research focuses on brain aging, neurodegenerative (with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease) and neuropsychological disorders (with an emphasis on depression) that are investigated at both mechanistic and translational levels.  Dr. Zhao has authored over 50 research articles, 80 conference presentations, six patents (four granted), and served as an editor/reviewer for more than 30 medical research journals.  Dr. Zhao and her research have been featured by multiple news outlets including USC News, USC Trojan Family Magazine, USC Pharmacy Magazine, KU News, KU Chancellor’s Report, Lawrence 6News,  Women’s Brain Health Initiative, Nature Medicine, and Alzheimer’s Association under Spotlight on Researchers Dedicated to Alzheimer’s.

At the KU School of Pharmacy, in addition to directing a research lab and training students on their research activities, Dr. Zhao teaches in both Pharm.D. and graduate (M.S. and Ph.D.) programs, with a teaching focus on the nervous system including both autonomic and central nervous system.  Dr. Zhao also directs the “Beyond the Lab” career development program (



Ph.D., Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, China, 1999
Postdoctoral, Bejing Institute of Pharmacology & Toxicology, 1999-2002
Related Terms

Contact Information


Malott Hall
University of Kansas
1251 Wescoe Hall Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045


Research Interests

Our research, focusing on brain aging and neurodegeneration (with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease; AD), aims:

  • At the basic level, to understand the neurobiological effects of sex hormones and the molecular basis underlying sex differences in the risk of developing AD. Some particular areas of interest include: menopause/perimenopause, estrogen receptor beta, insulin/IGF signaling, insulin-degrading enzyme, energy metabolism, apolipoproteins, and gene expression and regulation.
  • At the translational level, to advance basic scientific findings into therapeutic development for prevention and early intervention of pathological brain aging and neurodegeneration. Some particular areas of focus include: non-hormonal alternative therapies, estrogen receptor beta modulators, phytochemicals, and lifestyles in modulation of aging health.


Lab Dept of Pharmacology and Toxicology page: Zhao Lab

Lab facebook page:


*Zhao L, Mao Z, Chen S, Schneider LS, Brinton RD. (2013) Early Intervention with an Estrogen Receptor b-Selective Phytoestrogenic Formulation Prolongs Survival, Improves Spatial Recognition Memory, and Slows Progression of Amyloid Pathology in a Female Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. J Alzheimer Dis 37(2):403-419.

*Zhao L, Morgan TE., Mao Z, Lin S, Cadenas E, Finch CE, Pike CJ, Mack WJ, Brinton RD. (2012) Continuous versus Cyclic Progesterone Exposure Differentially Regulates Hippocampal Gene Expression and Functional Profiles. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31267.

*Zhao L, Mao Z, Schneider, LS, Brinton RD. (2011) Estrogen Receptor b-Selective Phytoestrogenic Formulation Prevents Physical and Neurological Changes in a Preclinical Model of Human Menopause. Menopause 18(10):1131-1142.

Zhao L, Jin C, Ma Z, Gopinathan MB, Rehder K, Brinton, RD. (2007) Design, Synthesis, and Estrogenic Activity of a Novel Estrogen Receptor Modulator - A Hybrid Structure of 17b-Estradiol and Vitamin E in Hippocampal Neurons. J Med Chem 50(18):4471-4481.

Zhao L, O'Neill, K, Brinton, RD. (2006) Estrogenic Agonist Activity of ICI 182,780 in Hippocampal Neurons: Implications for Basic Science Understanding of Estrogen Signaling and Development of Estrogen Modulators with a Dual Therapeutic Profile. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 319(3):1124-1132.

Zhao L, O'Neill K, Brinton RD. (2005) Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) for the Brain:  Current Status and Remaining Challenges for Developing NeuroSERMs. Brain Res Rev 49(3):472-493.

Zhao L, Wu T-W and Brinton RD. (2004) Estrogen Receptor Subtypes Alpha and Beta Contribute to Neuroprotection and Increased Bcl-2 Expression in Primary Hippocampal neurons. Brain Res. 1010(1-2):22-34.

Zhao L and Brinton RD. (2005) Structure-Based Virtual Screening for Plant-Based ERβ-selective Ligans as Potential Preventative Therapies Against Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases. J Med Chem. 48(10):3463-3466.

Zhao L and Brinton RD. (2006) Select Estrogens within the Complex Formulation of Conjugated Equine Estrogens (Premarin) Are Protective Against Neurodegenerative Insults: Implications for a Composition of Estrogen Therapy to Promote Neuronal Function and Prevent Alzheimer's Disease. BMC Neurosci. 7:24(1-13).

Zhao L and Brinton Rd. (2006) Estrogen Receptor β as a Therapeutic Target for Promotion of Neurogenesis and Prevention of Neurodegeneration. Drug Dev Res. 66(2):103-117.

Zhao L and Brinton RD. (2007) Estrogen Receptor α and β Differentially Regulate Intracellular Ca²+ Dynamics Leading to ERK Phosphorylation and Estrogen Neuroprotection in Hippocampal Neurons. Brain Res. 1172:48-59.



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