Steven H. Liang, PhD

Steven H. Liang, PhD

Assistant Professor, HMS
Assistant Chemist, MGH

Phone:   1-617-726-3404


My research interest has been centered on synthesis of organic molecules with bioactivities for almost ten years. I obtained my B.Sc (Honors) in chemistry at Tianjin University in 2003, followed by one year industry practice on the peptide synthesis. In 2004, I moved to Canada and pursued my Ph.D under the supervision of Professor Marco Ciufolini, Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, at the University of British Columbia. My doctoral research mainly focuses on natural product and analog synthesis for pharmaceutical application. It has involved (1) the synthesis of analogs of the antifungal natural product sordarin, in collaboration with Bayer CropScience; (2) development and optimization of intramolecular and bimolecular oxidative amidation, and application of this methodology to the total synthesis of (+)-lepadiformine, a potassium channel blocker, and to synthetic studies of tetrodotoxin and himandrine; (3) the synthesis of three fragments of the anticancer natural product diazonamide B. I have also devoted myself to independent research that has resulted in several articles as the corresponding author, for instance, (1) topic on synthesis of fully functionalized oxazoles in Current Organic Chemistry; (2) topic on antifungal natural product sordarin in Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (one of the five most accessed articles in October 2008, 4400+ times open-accessed as of Nov 2011) and two chemical reagent reviews in Synlett. In early 2010, I started a new journey in the laboratory of Professor Elias J. Corey, Noble Laureate in Chemistry, in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. My postdoctoral research centers on the innovation of silicon-based reagents and their applications in natural product and bioactive analog synthesis. One of my contributions is the invention and commercialization of a new silyl protective reagent, which is highlighted on C&EN News, Synform and top one of most-read articles on Organic Letters in 2011.

In mid 2012, I accepted a junior faculty position in the Department of Radiology, Harvard Medical School and in the Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital. My organic synthesis experience and skills enable me to develop novel radiochemistry methods, labeled compounds and radiopharmaceuticals with 11C and 18F aimed at clinical applications in human subjects. Our recent projects are focused on: (1) a novel method of labeling the mGluR5 antagonist [18F]FPEB for in vivo quantitation of such receptor levels in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and (2) a new concept of  “Flow Hydrogenation in Radiochemistry” and its application of the automated radiosynthesis of [18F]CABS13 – the first PET radiotracer to explore the metals hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease; (3) new [11C]CO2 fixation and 11C-methylation reactions to prepare neuroimaging agents; (4) new methods for radiolabeling non-activated aromatics including [18F]fluoro-L-Dopa and (5) directly labeling pharmaceutical compounds with 11C or 18F without changing the chemical structure for pharmacokinetic studies.

I was the recipient of a 2013 Young Investigator Award from the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.

To see a list of selected publications, visit Steven's profile on Harvard Catalyst


  • B.Sc. in Chemistry, 2003, Tianjin University, Tianjin, P.R. China
  • Ph.D in Chemistry, 2010, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada - Advisor: Professor Marco Ciufolini

Professional Positions

  • NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010 – 2012, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, MA - Advisor: Professor E.J. Corey
  • Associate, 2012 – Present, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, MA
  • Assistant in Chemistry, 2012 – Present, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Instructor in Radiology, 2012 – Present, Department of Radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Research Projects