Dr. Bing Liu, Pittsburgh COVID-19 Researcher Murdered


Dr. Bing Liu, 37, was an Assistant Professor of Research in the Computational Systems and Biology Department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  On Saturday, May 2, he was shot multiple times at his Ross Township home by Hao Gu, 46, who then went outside and killed himself as he sat in his vehicle. Bing’s colleagues said he was on the “verge of significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection.” Police called it a “murder-suicide.” Maybe, maybe not.

bing liu
Dr Bing Liu from handout

Dr. Bing Liu is survived by his wife. The couple had no children, and his parents live in China. His University bio is at this link.

“He has been contributing to several scientific projects, publishing in high-profile journals. 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.” Ivet Bahar, head of computational and sstem (sic) biology at the University

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote,

Police declined to disclose a possible motive for the homicide, but they said nothing was stolen from the townhouse and there was no forced entry.

An autopsy found that Mr. Liu was shot multiple times, including in the head, neck and torso.

Ross police Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp said the men knew each other but did not disclose how. He declined to comment on a possible motive, but said no other suspect is at large.

Mr. Liu had the front and rear patio doors open to his townhouse at the time he was killed because the weather was nice, Sgt. Kohlhepp said. His wife was not home at the time of the shooting.

What does “significant findings” mean?

The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) reported,

Liu was a leader of the university’s Bahar Lab research into the immune system, modelling complex processes such as responses to radiation, radiation therapy and immune signalling. According to his online resume, before joining the university in 2014 he worked with Edmund Clarke, winner of the prestigious Turing Award in computer science, as a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

His latest work, published on April 26, included a model framework for analysing systems biology models to better understand how diseases work, including for cardiac disorders, radiation diseases, and prostate cancer.
Translation: he was part of a team that recently worked on COVID-19, trying to understand how the disease worked, and the underlying conditions on a cellular level that were causing the deaths. According to every news report, he was “on the verge” of revealing something significant about the disease.
“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.” University of Pittsurgh statement
Police have not released a motive, if they have one. The suspect knew the victim, from where or how has also not been released. A Hao Gu listed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where Bing previously did his postdoctoral work, does not match the age listed for the suspect. If police release more information, we will update this article.
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