Man smiling for headshot

Stephen D. Liberles, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell Biology – Harvard Medical School


  • Post-doctoral training
    Harvard Medical School and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Buck lab)
  • Ph.D. in. Chemistry & Chemical Biology
    Harvard University


  • Harvard University Medical School
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Investigating the role of enteric neurons and the gut-brain axis in allergic disease

Stephen Liberles is a professor in the cell biology department at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His research focuses on the molecular neuroscience of sensory systems, including olfaction, pheromone-sensing, taste, and internal organ senses of the vagus nerve. His work has significantly advanced the understanding of vagus nerve cell types that control autonomic physiology, identified non-classical families of olfactory receptors, and revealed molecular mechanisms underlying sensation within internal organs.

The goal of Stephen Liberles’s research is to understand allergen-sensing pathways in the gut by investigating the role of enteric neurons and the gut-brain axis in allergic disease. The aims of this research are to develop a genetic toolbox for study of enteroendocrine cells and control enteroendocrine cells through chemical genetics.

Featured Publications:
Zhang C, Kaye JA, Cai Z, Wang Y, Prescott SL, Liberles SD. Area Postrema Cell Types that Mediate Nausea-Associated Behaviors. Neuron. 2021 Feb 3;109(3):461-472.e5. PMID: 33278342

Prescott SL, Umans BD, Williams EK, Brust RD, and Liberles SD, “An airway protection program revealed by sweeping genetic control of vagal afferents”, Cell (2020), 181: 574-589. PMID: 32259485

Nonomura K, Woo S, Chang RB, Gillich A, Qui Z, Francisco AG, Ranade SS, Liberles SD, Patapoutian A, “Piezo2 is an airway stretch sensor mediating lung inflation-induced apnea”, (2017) Nature, 541: 176-181 PMID: 28002412

Williams EK, Chang RB, Strochlic DE, Umans BD, Lowell BB, and Liberles SD, “Sensory neurons that detect stretch and nutrients in the digestive system”, (2016) Cell, 166: 209-221 PMID: 27238020

Chang RB, Strochlic DE, Williams EK, Umans BD, and Liberles SD, “Vagal sensory neuron subtypes that differentially control breathing”, (2015) Cell, 161: 622-633 PMID: 25892222