Izabela Podgorski

Izabela Podgorski

Professor of Pharmacology; Co-leader of Prostate Cancer Research Team


Izabela Podgorski

Office Address

540 East Canfield, 6312 Scott Hall
Detroit, MI 48201

Office Phone

Office: (313) 577-0514
Lab: (313) 577-0941


Bone marrow is a common host of several types of tumors, including secondary cancers of the prostate, breast, thyroid, kidney, lung, and bladder as well as hematological malignancies, such as multiple myelomas and leukemias. A common feature of tumor cells that reside in bone is that their proliferation and survival are critically dependent on the interaction with the bone marrow microenvironment. One important component of bone marrow stroma are the adipocytes, whose numbers are significantly augmented with age or metabolic pathologies. Fat cells negatively affect bone metabolism and function, and escalate bone degradation, making the bone marrow more supportive of tumor growth. Metastatic tumor cells have high avidity for lipids and lipid-mediated cross-talk between marrow adipocytes and tumor cells alters cellular energetics, disrupts redox homeostasis and profoundly affects signaling pathways that allow the cells to gain pro survival advantage and thrive in the metastatic niche.

Our main research objectives are to identify molecular mechanisms underlying the association between bone marrow adiposity and metastatic prostate, breast and kidney cancers and to pinpoint key factors responsible for aggressiveness and chemoresistance. Our studies involve mouse models of lipolysis, PDX models, 3D culture techniques and patient samples in combination with pharmacological and genetic manipulation, RNAseq and proteomic technologies. Our ultimate goal is to provide translational insight into advancing current treatment options for bone-metastatic disease.

 Our current work focuses on:

• Tumor-induced lipolysis in adipocytes and its role in tumor progression and chemotherapy response
• Lipid-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and unfolded protein response (UPR) in tumor survival and chemoresistance
• Lipid-mediated modulation of metabolic enzymes
• Factors driving tumor-induced bone destruction
• Targeting mitochondrial metabolism in bone marrow macrophages as therapeutic approach in metastatic disease

We also collaborate on the development and characterization of photoactivatable protease inhibitors as potential agents in treatment of primary cancer and metastatic disease.

       o Current Lab Personnel:

  • Mackenzie Herroon, M.A., Research Assistant
  • Shane Mecca, B.S., Research Assistant
  • Charlea Mossner, B.S., Cancer Biology Masters Student
  • Laimar Garmo, B.S., Pharmacology PhD Student
  • Alexis Wilson, B.S., Cancer Biology PhD Student

      o Former Doctoral Students:

            Aimalie Hardaway, Ph.D (2015), Postdoctoral Fellow at Cleveland Clinic
            Jonathan Diedrich, Ph.D (2017); Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Jude Research Hospital


B.S., Chemistry. Saint Mary's College, Orchard Lake, MI, 1995
Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences (Specialization in Health and Environmental Chemistry), Oakland University, Rochester, MI, 2001

Faculty Status

Cell Biology

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