Caroline Alexander

Contact Information
608-265-5182 (office); 608-262-1258 (lab)
6505 WI Institute Medical Research


BSC, 1982, Biochemistry, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
PhD, 1985, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, University of Kent, England
Postdoctoral Research, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London and UC-San Fransisco


Professor of Oncology
Developmental Therapeutics, UW Carbone Cancer Center

Research Description

We are testing whether skin can modulate energy expenditure and metabolism, with impact on disease susceptibility; particularly we focus on tumor prevention.  We have shown that mice with more permeable skins (measured as high rates of trans-epidermal water loss) lose heat quickly, and do not become obese when fed high-fat diets; these mice are also resistant to tumor development when challenged either with wide-acting carcinogens, or tissue-specific oncogenes.  We have found also that functional skin properties are highly regulated by environment, diet and genetics, suggesting that we could modify skins to maximize health span.  We are also expert in transgenic mouse studies and have made seminal discoveries on the regulation of mammary stem cells.  In particular, we have elucidated the specific properties of Wnt signaling receptors and ligands which support mammary development and somatic stem cell function.

Current projects include:

  1. Lipidomic analysis of skin lamellae, to find out which lipids control the rate of heat transfer
  2. Identification of skin properties that modify the thermogenic processes which maintain body temperature
  3. Experimental modification of skins (in mice), or the skin-environment interface, to evaluate the impact on health

National Committees

Ad-Hoc study section service for National Institutes of Health (F99/K00, K99/R00 and K22).

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