Pa. Researcher Making 'Very Significant Findings' in Coronavirus Killed in Suspected Murder-Suicide

A University of Pittsburgh researcher on the cusp of "very significant findings" tied to COVID-19 infections was shot dead Saturday in what police say appears to be a murder-suicide.

Ross Township police discovered the body of Bing Liu, 37, a research assistant professor in the university's School of Medicine, in his home with gunshots to his head, neck, torso and extremities, according to a statement from the department obtained by PEOPLE.

A second person, whose name was not immediately released, was located in a car parked near the scene of the first death and dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head, police said.

"The males are known to each other," police said in the statement. "Investigative leads developed throughout the weekend have led us to believe that the male from the car shot and killed the man in the townhome before returning to his own car and taking his own life."

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The widely-published researcher was celebrated by colleagues for his impact and accomplishments.

"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," said a statement from the School of Medicine's department of computational and systems biology, where he worked.

He earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees at the National University of Singapore, with post-doctoral work at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and was remembered by his department as someone who was "patient, intelligent and extremely mature. We will miss him very much."

A separate statement from the university said: "Members of our School of Medicine describe their former colleague as an outstanding researcher and mentor, and they have pledged to complete Liu’s research 'in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.'"

"The University of Pittsburgh is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu, a prolific researcher and admired colleague at Pitt," it said.

Police did not reveal how the two men were connected.

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