Professor of Medicine
LABioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Research interests: Male reproductive ageing, Male hormonal contraception, Influence of sleep on male reproductive ageing and metabolic health
Peter Liu, Ph.D., is a Principal Investigator within UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Los Angeles Biomedical Research. Dr. Liu received medical (Honours Class I) (1993) and doctoral (2003) degrees from the University of Sydney, and clinical and research training from Concord and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals (Sydney), Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA). His research
focuses on how sleep and hormones influence metabolic and reproductive health throughout life. This includes understanding the mechanisms that underpin male reproductive aging, as well as male fertility and its regulation. His approach is to use mathematical models and interventional clinical studies to address these questions. He has received numerous awards and recognitions such as: Mid-Career Research Award by the Endocrine Society of Australia (2010), Young Andrologist by the American Society of Andrology (2010) and Young Andrologist by the International Society of Andrology (2013). He was the Assistant Secretary of the World Federation of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicines Society (2007-2012) and has been serving the American Society of Andrology as a Chair of the Trainee Affairs Committee.
Q: How was your interest in field of andrology developed?
Dr. Liu: I went into medicine with a lifelong interest in mathematics. I chose endocrinology because of my interest in networks that could be modelled, hormone pulse signaling through mathematical deconvolution and analyzing the sleep electroencephalogram because of the recognized circadian and sleep influences on hormone secretion. Reproductive endocrinology, changes in testosterone and how to model them developed from these interests in part because much work had already been done linking modeling of the male gonadal axis to sleep and circadian changes.
Q: Tell us about the work that you are most proud of.
Dr. Liu: In conjunction with the International Hormonal Male Contraception Summit Group, we established by a subject-level meta-analysis that male hormonal contraception was reversible in a predictable manner. Christina Wang was the key driver of this project and I was fortunate enough to be a postdoctoral fellow in the Wang-Swerdloff laboratory at the time. Because of this, I was tasked with undertaking the statistical analyses and drafting the manuscript in conjunction with many leading andrologists throughout the world. That was a wonderful experience.
I was also fortunate to have been a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Johannes Veldhuis, where I learnt about the mechanisms underpinning male reproductive aging, and developed an understanding of how the network regulation of the male gonadal axis changes with age.
The people you work with in your career are mentors and can become your collaborators as you develop your own theme of research.
Q: Describe your typical day at work.
Dr. Liu: Seeing patients with endocrine problems; writing grants; supervising endocrine fellows, doctoral students and research staff; attending meetings to plan research, clinical care and administration.
Q: What is the key to success in the field of andrology, given the impact of recession/lack of grants?
Dr. Liu: Team science and interdisciplinary research – work with people who have skills and expertise which are adjacent and overlapping with your own; be persistent and work hard; believe that you can succeed. Develop a research theme which is uniquely your own.
Q: What has been the impact of the ASA membership in your career?
Dr. Liu: ASA membership has been a wonderful way to network with like-minded scientists from overlapping fields. The ASA is strongly supportive of trainees. Being active in the society has been a wonderful way to contribute back to the discipline.
Q: One advice you would like to give to students entering in this field.
Dr. Liu: Follow your passion and be persistent. Be prepared for failures and learn from your mistakes. Have confidence that you will eventually succeed. Work with other outstanding scientists and learn from them. Do not allow yourself to be bullied. Choose your mentors carefully.