Three IIT-Affiliated Faculty Receive Promotions

July 13, 2021

The IIT would like to congratulate three affiliated faculty members who recently received faculty promotions. Dr. Karen Liby was promoted to Professor and Dr. Jamie Bernard and Dr. Gina Leinninger were promoted to Associate Professor.

Karen Liby

Dr. Karen Liby is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The goals of Liby’s 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. Carcinogens found in cigarette smoke and related chemicals are used to initiate or accelerate cancer in some of the laboratory’s 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 in the Liby laboratory.

Jamie Bernard

Dr. Jamie Bernard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The Bernard laboratory studies the mechanisms that underlie the onset of carcinogenesis, so they can find new targets for prevention. Bernard has discovered that intra-abdominal (visceral) fat can promote carcinogenesis in in vitro models and animal models of high-fat diet-induced obesity by releasing fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) and activating FGFR1. The Bernard laboratory aims to identify specific mechanisms of obesity-promoted cancer with a focus on visceral fat inflammation. They are now exploring the translational relevance of FGF2 as a biomarker of adiposity-associated cancer risk. Additionally, the laboratory has interests in screening to identify new compounds that target their pathways for chemoprevention and identifying modifiable risk factors as a biomarkers of adiposity-associated cancer that are amenable to prevention and early intervention measures. 

Gina Leinninger

Dr. Gina Leinninger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and the Neuroscience Program. The Leinninger laboratory studies how the brain controls behaviors (feeding, drinking, moving) that alter body weight, with the long term goal of identifying strategies to effectively treat obesity and eating disorders. The Leinninger lab has characterized specific populations of neurons and circuits that promote weight loss. Now, using a combination of genetic and pharmacological approaches, they are defining the precise circuits, cells and signals that modulate feeding, drinking and physical activity to understand and how they might be leveraged to modify body weight.