Memorial Sloan Kettering molecular geneticist Liying Zhang

Liying Zhang, MD, PhD

Molecular Geneticist

Titles

Director, Diagnostic Molecular Genetics Laboratory

Clinical Expertise

Diagnostic Molecular Genetics

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Contact and Location

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About Me

Education

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

Fellowships

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 the Director of the Diagnostic Molecular Genetics Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am responsible for supervising the clinical molecular diagnostic testing for inherited disorders such as the inherited forms of breast, ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic, endometrial and other types of cancers. The identification of genetic alterations enables better medical management options that can reduce cancer risk through prevention or early detection as well as guide therapy selection and clinical trials. 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.

My research has focused on interpretation, classification, and characterizationof the variant of uncertain significance (VUS) in tumor suppressor genes (such as BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CDH1) identified through clinical testing. 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 and many patients have been identified to carry VUSs with unknown clinical significance. My research studies provide critical information for improved understanding and reclassification of the VUSs, which reduces the ambiguity and anxiety and allows patients to take advantage of cancer prevention measures or therapeutic treatment such as PARP inhibitors.Another area of my research is investigation of the germline mutation burden in cancer patients. I have authored a number of manuscripts and reviews on various hereditary cancer and molecular pathology related topics.

In addition to running the clinical laboratory and conducting research, I have had a long-standing interest in the training of future molecular pathologists, geneticists, oncologists and scientists. I served as the Associate Director of the Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Training Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering from 2009 to 2017. I also mentored medical students, undergraduate students and high school students during their internship training at MSKCC. 

Outside of MSK, I serve on several expert panels under the ClinGen project, a major leading effort supported by NIH to address the complexity of interpreting genetic variants. As an expert in hereditary cancers, I serve on the working groups of Hereditary Cancer Clinical Domain, CDH1, PTEN, TP53, Hereditary Colorectal Cancer, Germline Somatic Data Interpretation, and Myeloid Malignancies Gene and Variant Curation. The goal of these efforts is to define the clinical relevance of genes and variants for precision medicine and research.  I was also a committee member on the BRCA Challenge project organized by UNESCO, which aims to share the knowledge on genetic variations and develop a framework for evaluating them.

Colleagues

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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.