Office Room #: 426
170 Frelinghuysen Road Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: (848) 445-5518
Lauren Aleksunes, PharmD, PhD, DABT
Associate Professor, Graduate Director
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Education & TrainingPhD - Pharmacology and Toxicology - University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
PharmD - University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
BS - Pharmacy Studies - University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Post-Doctoral Fellowship - Pharmacology and Toxicology - University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
Certifications2012 - Present, Diplomat, American Board of Toxicology
2002 - Present, Registered Pharmacist
Research InterestsThe ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC) are members of a superfamily of transporters found in the plasma membrane. ABC transporters function as efflux pumps that remove chemicals from the cell. As a result, transporters limit the cellular accumulation of drugs and toxicants. Our laboratory studies members of three families of efflux transporters: ABCB1 (Multidrug resistance protein 1, MDR1, P-glycoprotein), ABCC1-6 (Multidrug resistance-associated proteins, MRP), and ABCG2 (Breast cancer resistance protein, BCRP). These transporters are important in removing chemicals from the liver and kidneys and can protect against target organ toxicity. Similarly, these efflux pumps are expressed in the placenta and participate in maternal-fetal xenobiotic disposition, thereby protecting the developing fetus from toxicant exposure.
Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory investigates how drug transporters in the liver, kidneys, brain, and placenta protect against the accumulation and toxicity of pharmaceuticals and environmental chemicals. Her studies aim to 1) characterize substrates and inhibitors for efflux transporters, 2) determine how genetic variants influence transporter function, and 3) understand the regulatory mechanisms that control expression of transporters. Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory utilizes molecular biology, cell biology, in vivo transgenic animal, explant human tissue, biomarkers of toxicity, and pharmacokinetic approaches to study the interplay of drug transport and toxicology. The Aleksunes laboratory is funded by NIH R01ES021800 and R01ES020522.
•Identification of pharmacogenetic risk factors and biomarkers for cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in humans.
•Investigation of bile acid signaling and homeostasis during pregnancy.
•Characterization of environmental chemicals as substrates and inhibitors of human placental efflux transporters.
•Elucidation of regulatory mechanisms controlling transporter expression in the placenta.
•Characterization of cell-cell communication between microglia and brain endothelial cells.
•Identification of transporters in the blood-brain barrier that regulate exposure to pesticides.
Scholarly Activities- Director of the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology
- Co-Director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
- Organizing Committee for Pharmacy Research Day at Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
- Member and Chair (2015-2016) of the Steering Committee for the New Jersey Drug Metabolism Discussion Group
- Rutgers Leadership Academy (2015-2017)
- Society of Toxicology, Member of the Program Committee (2016-2020)
Awards2016 - Society of Toxicology Achievement Award
2015 - XenoTech Global Scientific Achievement Award
2015 - Tradition of Excellence Award, UConn Pharmacy Alumni Association
2015 - Mentor of the Year, American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education
2014 - Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence
2014 - Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence
2012 - Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award, University of Connecticut Alumni Association, Storrs, CT
2011 - Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award, NIH/NIEHS