Feng Liu, PhD, a research professor in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, died Thursday, July 24, after being assaulted and robbed Wednesday, July 23, while walking in a neighborhood near campus.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 2, at 4:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the UNC campus. The Triangle Chinese-American Friendship Association will hold a vigil for Liu on Wednesday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fedex Global Education Center on the UNC campus.
“Dr. Liu will be remembered as a dedicated colleague, educator and researcher who was passionate about Carolina,” UNC Chancellor Carol Folt says. “He truly embodied everything that makes our University great. I know Dr. Liu leaves behind a loving family, which makes his loss all the more painful.” (Read the complete message from the chancellor.)
Liu came to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in 2005 from the University of Pittsburgh as a research associate professor and was promoted in 2012. His research interests focused on gene and drug delivery in the treatment of cancer. He was the author of forty-five peer-reviewed papers and was known for developing a hydrodynamic technique for transfection in animals. The paper describing his breakthrough has been cited approximately 1,300 times since it was published in 1999.
Liu received his BS in pharmacy and MS in pharmaceutics at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, China. He earned his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.
Feng Liu (left) with graduate students and colleague Leaf Huang (right)
In honor of Liu, the School has established a fund to create an annual award recognizing exemplary graduate students in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics. The Liu family asks that anyone wishing to make a gift in remembrance of Liu direct their gift to the fund. Checks may be mailed to:
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Foundation
194 Finley Golf Course Road, Suite 106
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Cards and condolences for Liu’s family can be sent to
The Liu Family
c/o UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
301 Pharmacy Lane Suite 100
Chapel Hill NC 27599-7355
Remembering Feng Liu
The faculty, staff, and students of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy gathered informally on Friday, July 25, to share memories and thoughts of Liu.
“You learn a lot about people at the wrong time. I wish I knew him better now, based on all these stories I heard about. What I did know about him is that he was a wonderful scientist devoted to helping others in science. When I first met him, I saw this quiet, reserved person. Then I grew to know that wasn’t him at all—I soon found he was a person with an extroverted personality.”
—Dean Bob Blouin, PharmD, Vaughn and Nancy Bryson Distinguished Professor
“Feng and I came here together nine years ago. It was a very important part of my decision to have him move here and work in the lab with me. Before coming here, we worked for fifteen years in Pittsburgh. He was part of my professional career, and he was a part of my personal life.”
“I would often leave my door open, and I would always hear his happy, loud, laughing voice coming into the room.”
—Leaf Huang, PhD, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor
“He always had a smile, and everyone will remember that. He was so kind, and so modest. He kept a low profile. He had a scientific paper that was cited 1,400 times, but he never bragged about it.”
—Xiao Xiao, PhD, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor
“We had a high school student here and she put her purse down in the break room, and an intruder tried to steal it. Feng was the first person to confront this person and he tackled them. If you know him, this epitomizes him and his boldness. If there was one brief moment of time that can be said shows his true character, it is this situation.” (The girl’s father tweeted about the incident when he learned of Liu’s death.)
—Russ Mumper, PhD, John A. McNeill Distinguished Professor
“I joined the school in 2005 as Leaf’s assistant, shortly after he came here with Feng and the rest of his crew. I remember he would come to my office every morning asking me enthusiastically what time Leaf would be getting to the School. I’d pull up his schedule and he would come right around my desk to check it out. I will really miss his laughter and his smile.”
—Angela Lyght, Employment and Development Specialist
“I had an office next to him. When I would come in he would be walking down the hall and he would be waving with a smile on his face. I could always hear him interacting with others because he had an enthusiastic voice.”
“He had an ethic that was beyond science—it was personal. And that’s the biggest thing I think his family is going to lose.”
—Richard Kowalsky, PharmD, Associate Professor
“I’ve known Feng for three years. One of the things he loved the most was the Pittsburgh Steelers. I told him I was a Chiefs fan, and he would say, “A Chiefs fan?!? But they’re terrible!”
—Andrew Satterlee, Graduate Student
“I’ve known Feng for two years. He was more than a scientist. He was a friend, and he was a role model. He’s someone I strive to follow. He just tackled the problem. That’s something I admire: to be so willing to help others.”
—Michael Lin, Graduate Student
Members of the media should contact David Etchison at 919-966-7744.