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Karen T. Liby

Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology

B430 Life Science Building
1355 Bogue Street
East Lansing, MI 48824

Research Interests:
Inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to the pathogenesis of numerous chronic diseases, including cancer. The goals of our research are to 1) learn how inflammation and the immune system contribute to carcinogenesis and 2) develop effective drugs that intervene in this process for the prevention or treatment of cancer. Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of known toxins, and smoking remains the leading cause of preventable cancer. Carcinogens found in cigarette smoke and related chemicals are used to initiate or accelerate cancer in some of our in vivo models. Synthetic triterpenoids, rexinoids (ligands for the retinoid X receptor), HDAC (histone deacteylase) inhibitors, and bromodomain inhibitors are all potent anti-inflammatory agents. These novel drugs are effective in experimental models of estrogen-receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Identifying molecular biomarkers and investigating the importance of the immune system for the biological activity of these compounds are ongoing areas of study.

Educational Background:
Hillsdale College, B.S., 1994, Biology
Palmer College, M.S., 1997, Human Anatomy
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ph.D., 2002, Cell and Molecular Biology
Dartmouth Medical School, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2003 - 2007, Pharmacology and Toxicology

Selected Professional Activities:
American Association for Cancer Research      
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
ASPET Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) director


Departmental Web Page:

Laboratory Trainees:
Ana Leal, postdoctoral fellow
Di Zhang, graduate student, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Lyndsey Reich, DO/PhD student, Pharmacology and Toxicology