Memorial Sloan Kettering molecular geneticist Liying Zhang

Liying Zhang, MD, PhD

Molecular Geneticist


Director, Diagnostic Molecular Genetics Laboratory

Clinical Expertise

Diagnostic Molecular Genetics

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Contact and Location

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About Me


MD, Peking University (China); PhD, The Johns Hopkins University; MS (Bioinformatics), The Johns Hopkins University


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Board Certifications

Clinical Molecular Genetics

I am a board-certified clinical molecular geneticist with a special interest in cancer genetics. As Director of the Diagnostic Molecular Genetics Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I am responsible for supervising the molecular diagnostic testing for inherited disorders — in particular the inherited forms of breast, ovarian, colorectal, and other types of cancers. The identification of  genetic alterations enables better medical management options that can reduce risk through prevention or early detection. I have led the development and implementation of various new diagnostic genetic tests, including the implementation of comprehensive cancer predisposition testing based on the MSK-IMPACT large panel tumor: normal NGS assay.

With the availability of high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies, our ability to detect DNA sequence variants has greatly surpassed the ability to interpret their clinical impact. National and international projects have started to address the complexity of interpreting genetic variants. Currently, I am a cancer genetics expert participating in the cancer working group for ClinicGen, one of the leading efforts. I am also a committee member on The BRCA Challenge project organized by UNESCO.  We aim to share the knowledge on genetic variations and develop a framework for evaluating them.

My research has focused on interpretation, classification, and characterization of the sequence variants in cancer predisposition genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and CDH1. We use molecular biology, molecular genetics, and biochemical approaches to study how these sequence variants alter the function of the proteins sufficiently to predispose cells to cancer development. I lead ongoing research projects to investigate sequence variants related to hereditary breast, ovarian, gastric, and colon cancers. These research results will provide important information for improved patient management.


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Clinical Trials

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Memorial Sloan Kettering's doctors and scientists are constantly developing new treatments for cancer. MSK is typically running hundreds of clinical trials at a given time.

You may be able to participate in a clinical trial even if you are new to MSK. Search our online directory to find trial information and see more about who can participate.

Research and Publications

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Zhang’s journal articles. Pubmed is an online index of research papers and other articles from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.