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Coronavirus researcher on verge of 'significant' breakthrough sadly killed in murder-suicide

Bing Liu had just begun research on the novel Coronavirus. His lab will continue his work, though they are currently in mourning.

Coronavirus researcher on verge of 'significant' breakthrough sadly killed in murder-suicide
Image Source: Lakshmiprasad S / EyeEm / Getty Images

Trigger Warning: Gun Violence

A research assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was fatally shot in his Ross townhouse on Saturday. Bing Liu, 37, was shot several times. The perpetrator murdered the researcher before taking his own life. A motive for the killing has not been established. Prior to his death, Liu was working on a project involving Coronavirus, Fox News reports. Allegedly, the researcher was about to make some "significant findings." The biology department at the university is currently in mourning and has since issued a statement grieving Liu's tragic demise.



The statement read in part, "Bing was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection and the cellular basis of the following complications. We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence." Ivet Bahar, the head of the computational and system biology department, remembered Liu's dedication to his work. She called him a talented, hardworking, and intelligent individual. "He has been contributing to several scientific projects, publishing in high-profile journals," Bahar shared. "He was someone whom we all liked very much, a very gentle, very helpful, kind person, very generous. We are all shocked to learn what happened to him. This was very unexpected."



Police officials identified the perpetrator as Hao Gu, a 46-year-old resident of Pittsburgh. He entered the victim's house and shot him multiple times before getting into his car which was parked about 100 yards away on Charlemagne Circle and killing himself. An autopsy of the victim's body revealed that he was shot in the head, neck, and torso several times. When police investigated the scene of the crime, there were no signs of forced entry and nothing appeared to have been stolen from Liu's household. According to Ross police Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp, the men knew each other, though they did not disclose how. Furthermore, they also declined to comment on a possible motive, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. They did state, nonetheless, that no other suspect was still at large.



Liu was an only child and leaves behind his wife and parents. His parents currently live in China, his wife revealed. The couple did not have any children. The researcher had earned his doctorate at the University of Singapore in 2012 and came to the United States in order to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. He worked under renowned computer scientist Edmund M. Clarke, a 2007 Turing Award recipient, before moving to Pittsburg six years ago to work at the University of Pittsburgh's biology department.



At Bahar's lab, he helped create "computer simulation models to mimic biological processes in an effort to predict how those processes proceed at the molecular and cellular levels and how to interfere with them to design therapies." Prior to his untimely death, he co-authored over 30 publications - four of them in 2020 alone. As per Bahar, Liu had just begun working on the novel coronavirus. "He was just starting to obtain interesting results," she said. "He was sharing with us, trying to understand the mechanism of infection, so we will hopefully continue what he was doing." However, they will feel definitely feel his absence at her lab. She affirmed, "This is someone who we're going to miss very much at the department."



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