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Kelsey Fisher-Wellman, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member investigating metabolic differences between cancer and non-cancer that originate within the mitochondrion.

Assistant Professor, Physiology
East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute
East Carolina University
Cancer Cell Biology

Area of Interest

Our lab investigates metabolic differences between cancer and non-cancer that originate within the energy-producing organelle of the cell referred to as the mitochondrion. Mitochondria are present in all cell types (RBCs excluded), and thus the assumption has been that all mitochondria are alike, and that function declines due to disease or aging. However, new evidence is emerging that all mitochondria are not alike but, in fact, are unique in composition and function within each cell type, including cancer cells. This raises the exciting possibility that identifying the unique bioenergetic signature(s) of cancer may hold the key to designing mitochondrial-targeted therapies that specifically target only those cancer cells. Research in our lab leverages a state-of-the art mitochondrial diagnostics workflow we developed which unites comprehensive, discovery-based bioenergetic phenotyping with large-scale analysis of the mitochondrial proteome using mass spectrometry. The primary goal of our work is to create a biochemical ‘blue-print’ of the mitochondrial network in cancer and then use this information to identify actionable mechanisms intrinsic to cancerous mitochondria.

Awards and Honors

  • Department of Defense Melanoma Research Program Discovery Award, 2022
  • Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Idea Award with Special Focus, 2019
  • Invited speaker, Keystone Symposia – Bioenergetics and Metabolic Disease, Keystone, CO, 2018
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Post-Doctoral Fellowship (F32), 2015
  • APS Intersociety Meeting Travel award, The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI, Westminster, CO, 2012
  • American Physiological Society Gatorade Pre-doctoral award-Experimental Biology, San Diego, CA, 2012
  • The Melvin A. Humphreys Prize for Student Research, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, 2009
  • Outstanding Senior in Exercise and Sport Science, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, 2007

Find publications on PubMed

Headshot of Kelsey Fisher-Wellman