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PhD, Genetics, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cancer Genetics

Professor, Genetics
Oliver Smithies Investigator
Associate Chair for Research
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Genetics

Area of Interest

We are interested in understanding the genetic basis for susceptibility to obesity and type 2 diabetes, including their relationships to cancer risk. Epidemiological data demonstrate a positive correlation between obesity and several forms of cancer, including those of the colon, breast, endometrium, kidney, and esophagus, as well as a decreased risk of prostate cancer among individuals affected with diabetes. The molecular mechanisms underlying these disease relationships are unclear and may involve diet, physical activity, insulin resistance, and hormone changes, in addition to genetic differences between individuals. We are particularly interested in understanding whether the mechanisms relating obesity, diabetes and cancer are influenced by the same genes, shared common DNA variants, and/or cell environments. We apply genetic, genomic, transcriptomics, epigenomics and molecular and cellular biology approaches to identify susceptibility variants, genes, and mechanisms.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  •  Award for Excellence in Basic Science Mentoring, UNC, 2020
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014
  • Ruth and Phillip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, 2011
  • Pew Scholar Award in the Biomedical Sciences, 2006
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, 2000
Headshot of Karen Mohlke.