Dr Joan Liu

Dr Joan Liu

Dr Joan Liu completed her BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences (Neuroscience), and PhD in Anatomy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Adult Learning and Professional Development from University College London, and she is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in UK. Dr Liu was involved with previous projects led by UCL Institute of Neurology and funded by European Commission (developing in-vivo imaging biomarkers for the early diagnosis and evaluation of patients' responses to therapeutic medications), and Medical Research Council (investigation of glial and neuronal regenerative mechanisms in epilepsy).

At the University of Westminster, Dr Liu is the Research Group Leader for the Neuroscience, Inflammatory Disorders and Therapeutics group under the Centre of Nutraceuticals in the School of Life Sciences. Dr Liu’s main research interest is in Neuropathology and Epilepsy, with a specific focus on investigating the fundamental mechanisms of disease leading to Focal Epilepsy involving the inflammatory and mTOR pathways. Currently, she is a collaborator on a Wellcome-funded, five-year grant investigating Neurodegeneration in Epilepsy. Recently, Dr Liu was awarded funding from Quintin Hogg Trust to promote and support Neurodiversity and Inclusiveness in Higher Education.

Dr Liu has over twelve years of experience working with human brain tissue, with expertise in single and multiplex manual and automated in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry & immunofluorescence, human cell and organotypic slice culture, histological staining, manual and automated image analysis, bioinformatics and 'omic technologies. Dr Liu has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Brain, and Annals of Neurology, and she has presented in national and international conferences including British Neuropathological Society, Digital Pathology, and European Congress of Neuropathology.

Dr Liu has organised a symposium on Research in Neurological Conditions and a series of engaging events during Brain Awareness Week at the University of Westminster.  She is the British Neuroscience Association local group representative for the University of Westminster.

Dr Liu is the International co-lead for the School of Life Sciences and she has established a number of overseas clinical and research placements and study abroad opportunities to enrich the learning experience, employability and global outlook of our students (see our student blogs on WestminsterAbroad). Dr Liu has led overseas field trips funded by Quintin Hogg Trust to European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, as well as Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Publications  ORCID: 0000-0002-0777-5189:

Patodia S,  Somani A,  Liu JYW,  Cattaneo A,  Paradiso B,  Garcia M,  Othman M,  Diehl B,  Devinsky O,  Mills JD,  Foong J,  Thom M (2022) Serotonin transporter in the temporal lobe, hippocampus and amygdala in SUDEP. Brain Pathology. 2022; 32:e13074

Joan Y.W. Liu, Hawsawi HB, Sharma N, Carmichael DW, Diehl B, Thom M, Lemieux L (2022). Safety of intracranial electroencephalography during functional magnetic resonance imaging in humans at 1.5 tesla using a head transmit RF coil: Histopathological and heat-shock immunohistochemistry observations. NeuroImage 254, 119129

Joan Y.W. Liu, Cheryl Reeves, Rianne van der Pijl, Maria Thom, (2021) Glial regenerative cell types in the superficial cortex in cortical dysplasia subtypes. Epilepsy Research 169, 106529.

Joan Y. W. Liu, Dzurova N, Batoul A, Mills K, Sisodiya SM., Thom M. (2020). Granule Cell Dispersion in Human Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Proteomics Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Migratory Pathway. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 14. DOI=10.3389/fncel.2020.00053  

C. Reeves, A. Pradim-Jardim, SM. Sisodiya, M Thom, Joan Y.W. Liu (2018) Spatiotemporal dynamics of PDGFRβ expression in pericytes and glial scar formation in cortical brain injuries in adults. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology.

Joan Y.W. Liu, M. Matarin, C. Reeves, A. McEvoy, A. Miserocchi, P. Thompson, SM. Sisodiya, M. Thom. (2018) Doublecortin expressing cell types in temporal lobe epilepsy. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. doi.org/10.1186/s40478-018-0566-5

Patodia S, Somani A, O'Hare M, Venkateswaran R, Joan Y.W. Liu, Michalak Z, Ellis M, Scheffer IE, Diehl B, Sisodiya SM. (2018) The ventrolateral medulla and medullary raphe in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Brain. 141, 1719-1733. 

Thom, M., Joan Y.W. Liu., Bongaarts, A., Reinten, R. J., Paradiso, B., Jager, H. R et al. (2018). Multinodular and vacuolating neuronal tumours in epilepsy: dysplasia or neoplasia?. Brain Pathology. 28, 155-171

Thom, M., Joan Y.W. Liu., Prabowo, A., Paradiso, B., Jager, R., Reeves, C. et al. (2017). Multinodular and vacuolating neuronal tumours in epilepsy: dysplasia or neoplasia? Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. 43, 19-20.

Joan Y.W. Liu, Reeves, C., Jacques, T. S., McEvoy, A., Miserocchi, A., Thompson, P., Thom, M. (2017). Nestin- expressing cell types in the temporal lobe and hippocampus: morphology, differentiation and proliferative capacity. Glia. 66, 62-77

Al-Hajri, A., Al-Mughairi, S., Somani, A., An, S., Joan Y.W. Liu, Miserocchi, A., . . . Thom, M. (2017). Pathology–MRI Correlations in Diffuse Low-Grade Epilepsy Associated Tumors. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 76, 1023-1033.

Joan YW Liu, C. Reeves, B. Diehl, A. Coppola, A. Al-Hajri, C. Hoskote, S. al Mughairy, M. Tachrount, M. Groves, Z. Michalak, K. Mills, A.W. McEvoy, A. Miserocchi, S.M Sisodiya, M. Thom (2016) A Novel Pathology in Frontal Lobe Epilepsy with Neuronal Lipofuscin. Annals of Neurology, 80, 882–895. Provided Front Cover Image.

M. Yogarajah, M. Matarin, C. Vollmar, P.Thompson, J. Duncan, M. Symms, A. Moore, Joan Y.W. Liu, M. Thom, V. Van Heyningen, S.M. Sisodiya (2016) PAX6, brain structure and function in human adults: advanced MRI in aniridia. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 3, 314-330.

 M. Thom, Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, V. Stopps, S.M. Sisodiya (2015). A cautionary note in the interpretation of human papillomavirus E6 immunohistochemistry in focal cortical dysplasia. Annals of Neurology, 77 (2), 352-353.

 C. Reeves, M. Tachrount, D.L. Thomas, Z. Michalak, Joan YW Liu, M. Ellis, B. Diehl, A. Miserocchi, A.W. McEvoy, S. Eriksson, T. Yousry, M. Thom (2015). Combined Ex Vivo 9.4T MRI and Quantitative Histopathological Study in Normal and Pathological Neocortical Resections in Focal Epilepsy. Brain Pathology, DOI: 10.1111/bpa.12298

 A. Prada Jardim., Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, S.M. Sisodiya, M. Thom (2015). A study of glial differentiation in pericyte-like cells in human cortical injuries. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology, 41, 57-58.

 M. Thom, C. Schneider, B. Paradiso, Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves., A. Pardo-Jardim et al. (2015). BRAF V600E mutations in glioneuronal tumours in epilepsy. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology, 41, 41.

 C. Reeves, M. Tachrount, D. Thomas, Z. Michalak, Joan Y.W. Liu, M. Ellis et al. (2015). Combined ex-vivo 9.4Tesla MRI and quantitative histopathological study in normal and pathological surgical resections in focal epilepsy. NEUROPATHOLOGY AND APPLIED NEUROBIOLOGY, 41, 17-18.

 M. Thom, Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, M. Matarin, S.M. Sisodiya. (2015). Distribution of nestin and doublecortin expressing cells in temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology, 41, 17.

Joan Y.W. Liu, M. Ellis, H. Brooke-Ball, J. de Tisi, S.H. Eriksson, S. Brandner, S.M. Sisodiya, M. Thom. 2014. High-throughput, automated quantification of white matter neurons in mild malformation of cortical development in epilepsy. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. 2:72.

Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, Z. Michalak,  A. Coppola, B. Diehl, S.M. Sisodiya, M. Thom. 2014. Evidence for mTOR pathway activation in a spectrum of epilepsy-associated pathologies. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. 2:71.

Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, B. Diehl, A. Coppola, A. McEvoy, S.M. Sisodiya, M. Thom. 2014. Novel pathology features in MRI negative cortical dysplasia in frontal lobe epilepsy. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology. 19-20.


M. Bauer, R. Karch, M. Zeitlinger, Joan Y.W. Liu, M. J. Koepp, M. Asselin, S. M. Sisodiya et al. 2014. In-vivo P-glycoprotein-function before and after epilepsy surgery. Neurology. 83(15):1326-31


M. Feldmann*, M.C. Asselin*, Joan Y.W. Liu, S. Wang, A. McMahon, J, Anton-Rodriguez, S.M. Sisodiya, and M.J. Koepp. 2013. P-glycoprotein expression and function in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy: a case-control study. The Lancet Neurology. 8; 777-85. *co-first authors.


M. Thom, M. Kensche, J. Maynard, Joan Y.W. Liu, C. Reeves, J. Goc, D. Marsdon, D. Fluegel, J. Foong. Interictal psychosis following temporal lobe surgery: dentate gyrus pathology. 2014. Psychol Med. 44(14):3037-49.


C. Shepherd, Joan Y.W. Liu, J. Goc, L. Martinian, T.S. Jacques, S.M. Sisodiya, and M. Thom. 2013. A quantitative study of white matter hypomyelination and oligodendroglial maturation in focal cortical dysplasia type II. Epilepsia. 54; 898-908.


R. Bandopadhyay, Joan, Y.W. Liu, S.M. Sisodiya, M. Thom, M. 2013. A comparative study of the dentate gyrus in hippocampal sclerosis in epilepsy and dementia. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology. 40(2):177-90.


Joan Y.W. Liu, M. Thom, C.B. Catarino, L. Martinian, D. Figarella-Branger, F. Bartolomei, M. Koepp, S.M. Sisodiya. 2012. Neuropathology of the Blood-Brain Barrier and Pharmacoresistance in Human Epilepsy. Brain.135; 3115-3133.


Joan Y.W. Liu, D. Kasperavičiūtė, L. Martinian, Maria Thom, Sanjay Sisodiya. 2012. Neuropathology of 16p13.11 Deletion in Epilepsy. PLoS One. 7;e34813.


A. Feast, L. Martinian, Joan Y.W. Liu, C.B. Catarino, M. Thom, and S.M. Sisodiya. 2012. Investigation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α in hippocampal sclerosis: a post mortem study. Epilepsia. 53; 1349-1359.


M. Thom, I. Liagkouras, L. Martinian, Joan Y.W. Liu, C.B. Catarino, and S.M. Sisodiya. 2012. Variability of sclerosis along the longitudinal hippocampal axis in epilepsy: A post mortem study. Epilepsy Research. 102;45-49.


M. Thom, Joan Y.W. Liu, P. Thompson, R. Phadke, M. Narkiewicz, L. Martinian, et al. 2011. Neurofibrillary tangle pathology and Braak staging in chronic epilepsy in relation to traumatic brain injury and hippocampal sclerosis: a post-mortem study. Brain. 134; 2969-81.


C.B. Catarino, Joan Y.W. Liu, I. Liagkouras, V.S. Gibbons, R.W. Labrum, R. Ellis, et al. 2011. Dravet syndrome as epileptic encephalopathy: evidence from long-term course and neuropathology. Brain. 134; 2982-3010.


Joan Y.W. Liu, C.B. Catarino, I. Liagkouras, R. Labrum, M. Davis, C. Woodward, and S.M. Sisodiya. 2011. Neuropathology of Dravet syndrome. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology. 37; 25-26.


Joan Y.W. Liu, L. Martinian, M.Thom, S.M. Sisodiya. 2010. Immunolabeling recovery in archival, post-mortem, human brain tissue using modified antigen retrieval and the catalyzed signal amplification system. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 190; 49-56.


Joan Y.W. Liu, E.W. Mee, P.Bergin, H.H. Teoh, B. Connor, M. Dragunow, R.L. Faull. 2008. Doublecortin expression in the normal and epileptic adult human brain. European Journal of Neuroscience. 28; 2254-2265.


Joan Y.W. Liu, E.W. Mee, P.Bergin, H.H. Teoh, B. Connor, M. Dragunow, R.L. Faull. 2007. Adult neurogenesis in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy: a review of recent animal and human studies. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. 8; 187-94.


A.S. Tattersfield, R.J. Croon, Joan Y.W. Liu, A. Kells, R.L.M. Faull and B. Connor. 2004. Neurogenesis in the Striatum of the Quinolinic Acid Lesion Model of Huntington’s Disease. Neuroscience. 127; 319-332.

  • Neuroscience, Inflammatory Disorders and Therapeutics
  • The Centre for Nutraceuticals