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Ferenc  Livak

Ferenc Livak M.D.

Academic Title: Associate Professor
Primary Appointment: Microbiology and Immunology
Location: Bressler Research Building, 7-022
Phone: 410-706-2173
Fax: 410-328-6559
Lab: 410-706-2173

Personal History:

After earning my medical degree in Budapest, Hungary, I completed an extensive post-doctoral training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and at Yale Medical School in New Haven. In 1997 I received an EMBO fellowship that allowed me continue my studies at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. In 2000 I was appointed as Assistant professor on the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland Baltimore.  I conducted independently funded research supported by the National Institute of Health and other agencies, taught at the Medical School and Graduate School courses and trained PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.

In 2009 I became a full member of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and began to serve as Director of its Flow Cytometry Shared Service. In 2011 I successfully steered the facility to become a full shared service within the NCI funded Cancer Center. In subsequent years the Flow Cytometry Shared Service substantially increased utilization, hired a new employee, doubled its cell sorting capacity and has introduced a number of technological innovations to support cutting edge cancer research at the University of Maryland. In 2015 I was promoted to the Associate professor level on the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and continue to serve as Director of the NCI-supported Flow Cytometry Shared Service.

Research Interests:

During my training and my first nine years of faculty appointment I was primarily interested in the molecular events that control antibody and T-cell receptor gene rearrangement, early T cell development and antibody responses. My studies were carried out at the interface of molecular biology and developmental immunology utilizing a combination of advanced in vitro, biochemical assays and in vivo, transgenic animal models.

Throughout these years I contributed to discoveries that help us better understand the biochemical and cellular mechanisms which shape the antigen receptor repertoire by two major gene recombination processes mediated by the recombination activating gene proteins (RAG-1 and RAG-2) and activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AICDA) enzyme. I also worked in the area of age-associated decline of humoral immune responses and studied the consequences of deficient DNA damage-response pathways that contribute to leukemia and lymphomagenesis. More recently, my interest has focused on helping investigators to advance a variety of research goals with the use of flow cytometry analysis and cell sorting.

Lab Techniques and Equipment:

The Flow Cytometry Shared Service provides full-scale assistance in flow cytometry, including analytical sample acquisition, expert data analysis and cell sorting. The service operates thee analytical instruments, a one-laser/3-color BD FACScan, a two-laser/6-color BD FACSCanto II and a 4-laser/13-color BD LSR II cytometer. The latter instrument is also equipped with high throughput sampler (HTS) attachment that allows sample acquisition from 96-well plates.

Cell sorting services are provided with a two-laser/7-color BD FACSCAria I and a 3-laser/9-color BD FACSAria II sorter. The latter instrument is enclosed in a BioBubble benchtop biosafety enclosure that allows us to performs sorting of human and non-human primate and retro/lenti virus-infected samples at an enhanced BSL-2 biohazard containment. These instruments are high-speed, digital cell sorters with the ability to collect samples 1-4 way and also support 96-well single cell deposition. Our service also helps with experimental planning and scientific data interpretation and provides training on our analytical instruments.


  1. Livak F, Petrie HT, Crispe IN, Schatz DG. In-frame TCR delta gene rearrangements play a critical role in the alpha beta/gamma delta T cell lineage decision. Immunity. 1995 Jun;2(6):617-27. PubMed PMID: 7796295.
  2. Livak F, Schatz DG. T-cell receptor alpha locus V(D)J recombination by-products are abundant in thymocytes and mature T cells. Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Feb;16(2):609-18. PubMed PMID: 8552089; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC231040.
  3. Livak F, Burtrum DB, Rowen L, Schatz DG, Petrie HT. Genetic modulation of T cell receptor gene segment usage during somatic recombination. J Exp Med. 2000 Oct 16;192(8):1191-6. PubMed PMID: 11034609; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2195867.
  4. Livak F, Petrie HT. Somatic generation of antigen-receptor diversity: a reprise. Trends Immunol. 2001 Nov;22(11):608-12. PubMed PMID: 11698221.
  5. Celeste A, Petersen S, Romanienko PJ, Fernandez-Capetillo O, Chen HT, et al. Genomic instability in mice lacking histone H2AX. Science. 2002 May 3;296(5569):922-7. PubMed PMID: 11934988.
  6. Olaru A, Patterson DN, Villey I, Livak F. DNA-Rag protein interactions in the control of selective D gene utilization in the TCR beta locus. J Immunol. 2003 Oct 1;171(7):3605-11. PubMed PMID: 14500657.
  7. Tabrizifard S, Olaru A, Plotkin J, Fallahi-Sichani M, Livak F, et al. Analysis of transcription factor expression during discrete stages of postnatal thymocyte differentiation. J Immunol. 2004 Jul 15;173(2):1094-102. PubMed PMID: 15240698.
  8. Olaru A, Petrie HT, Livak F. Beyond the 12/23 rule of VDJ recombination independent of the Rag proteins. J Immunol. 2005 May 15;174(10):6220-6. PubMed PMID: 15879119.
  9. Vacchio MS, Olaru A, Livak F, Hodes RJ. ATM deficiency impairs thymocyte maturation because of defective resolution of T cell receptor alpha locus coding end breaks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 10;104(15):6323-8. PubMed PMID: 17405860; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1851038.
  10. Difilippantonio S, Gapud E, Wong N, Huang CY, Mahowald G, et al. 53BP1 facilitates long-range DNA end-joining during V(D)J recombination. Nature. 2008 Nov 27;456(7221):529-33. PubMed PMID: 18931658; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3596817.
  11. Lien C, Fang CM, Huso D, Livak F, Lu R, Pitha PM. Critical role of IRF-5 in regulation of B-cell differentiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 9;107(10):4664-8. PID: 20176957; PMCID: PMC284205
  12. Zhang B, Suer S, Livak F, Adediran S, Vemula A, et al. Telomere and microtubule targeting in treatment-sensitive and treatment-resistant human prostate cancer cells. Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;82(2):310-21. PubMed PMID: 22584221.
  13. Bowen S, Wangsa D, Ried T, Livak F, Hodes RJ. Concurrent V(D)J recombination and DNA end instability increase interchromosomal trans-rearrangements in ATM-deficient thymocytes. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Apr;41(8):4535-48. PubMed PMID: 23470994; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3632137.
  14. Steinhardt JJ, Peroutka RJ, Mazan-Mamczarz K, Chen Q, Houng S, et al. Inhibiting CARD11 translation during BCR activation by targeting the eIF4A RNA helicase. Blood. 2014 Dec 11;124(25):3758-67. PubMed PMID: 25320244; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4263984.

Links of Interest:

Flow Cytometry Shared Service