Parent Page: Academic Departments id: 22046 Active Page: Faculty - Staffid:22079

Faculty and Staff


Elizabeth Wellberg, BS, PhD

Elizabeth Wellberg, BS, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Pathology

Harold Hamm Diabetes Center

Stephenson Cancer Center

975 NE 10th St, BRC 309

Oklahoma City, OK 73104

405-271-8001 ext. 32276


May 2004        B.S. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; Biomedical Sciences

May 2009        Ph.D. B.S. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; Toxicology


12/14-10/17      Research Instructor-University of Colorado Denver

Department of Pathology; Center for Women’s Health Research


11/09-11/14     Post-doctoral Fellow-University of Colorado Denver

Department of Pathology

Mentor:  Dr. Steve Anderson

Clinical/Research Interests:

My training is in normal mammary gland biology and breast cancer metabolism. I currently hold an NCI R01 focused on FGF-FGFR signaling in endocrine-resistant breast cancer. I study the “vicious cycle” surrounding obesity and estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer (depicted in the diagram).  My research focuses on the mechanisms through which obesity promotes breast cancer relapse and progression, and also on the metabolic effects of estrogen deprivation that occur with endocrine (anti-estrogen) therapy.  I established a transplant-competent murine model of obesity and glucose intolerance, in which I grow breast cancer patient derived xenograft tumors (PDX) as well as established human breast cancer cell lines. I am currently investigating the mechanisms through which growth factor signaling potentiates the response to estrogen in the obese environment, potentially through ligand-independent activation of the estrogen receptor. Other projects in my laboratory focus on how obesity moderates the effects of ER antagonists and estrogen deprivation on adipose tissue expansion and adipocyte progenitor cell renewal and differentiation. My overall research goals include 1) identifying host (environment)-specific drivers of breast cancer therapy resistance in the context of obesity; 2) determining the effects of endocrine therapy on adipose, liver, and skeletal muscle biology, and 3) identifying and modeling the patient population at risk for adverse effects associated with endocrine therapy and implement appropriate ways to monitor and intervene to prevent breast cancer relapse.  I combine basic research techniques, including culture of established and primary breast cancer cell lines, with preclinical (mouse and rat) models of obesity and clinical studies to comprehensively investigate the relationship between obesity, metabolic disease, and breast cancer progression.


Komen Foundation Career Catalyst Research Grant 8/2017-7/2020:  Growth factor signaling in obesity associated breast cancer.  Role: PI 

NIH U54 AG062319 (SCORE) 9/20/12 – 5/31/23:  Bioenergetic and Metabolic Consequences of the Loss of Gonadal Function.  Role: Co-Inv

NIH R01CA241156 7/1/2019-6/30-2024:  Growth factor signaling in obesity associated ER-positive breast cancer. Role: PI


Select Publications:

  1. Foright RM, Johnson GC, Kahn D, Charleston CA, Presby DM, Bouchet CA, Wellberg EA, Sherk VD, Jackman MR, Greenwood BM, and MacLean PS. 2020. Compensatory eating behaviors in male and female rats in response to exercise training. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol June 17, 2020.


  2. Rao DM, Shackleford MT, Bordeaux EK, Sottnik JL, Ferguson RL, Yamamoto TM, Wellberg EA, Bitler BG, Sikora MJ. 2019. Wnt family member 4 (WNT4) and WNT3A activate cell-autonomous Wnt signaling independent of porcupine O-acyltransferase or Wnt secretion. J Biol Chem 294 (52): 19950-66


  3. Grinman DY, Careaga VP, Wellberg EA, Dansey MV, Kordon EC, Anderson SM, Maier MS, Burton G, MacLean PS, Rudolph MC, Pecci A. 2019. Liver X receptor-α activation enhances cholesterol secretion in lactating mammary epithelium. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 316(6).


  4. Wellberg EA, Kabos P, Gillen AE, Jacobsen BM, Brechbuhl HM, Johnson SJ, Rudolph MC, Edgerton SM, Thor AD, Anderson SM, Elias A, Zhou XK, Iyengar NM, Morrow M, Falcone DJ, El-Hely O, Dannenberg AJ, Sartorius CA, and MacLean PS.  2018.  FGFR1 underlies obesity-associated progression of ER-positive breast cancer after estrogen deprivation.  JCI Insight 3 (14).
  5. Giles ED, Jindal S, Wellberg EA, Schedin T, Anderson SM, Thor AD, Edwards DP, MacLean PS, Schedin P. 2018. Metformin inhibits stromal aromatase expression and tumor progression in a rodent model of postmenopausal breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research 20(1):50.
  6. Wellberg EA, Checkley LA, Giles ED, Johnson SJ, Oljira R, Wahdan-Alaswad R, Foright RM, Dooley G, Edgerton SM, Jindal S, Johnson GC, Richer JK, Kabos P, Thor AD, Schedin P, MacLean PS, and Anderson, SM.  2017.  The Androgen Receptor supports tumor progression after the loss of ovarian function in a preclinical model of obesity and breast cancer. Hormones and Cancer 8(5-6):269-285.  Cover Article
  7. Wie SM, Wellberg E, Karam SD, and Reyland ME.  2017.  Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Protect the Salivary Gland from Radiation Damage by Inhibiting Activation of Protein Kinase C-delta.  Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 16(9):1989-1998.  Cover Article
  8. Checkley LA, Rudolph MC, Wellberg EA, Giles ED, Wahdan-Alaswad RS, Houch JA, Edgerton S, Thor AD, Schedin P, Anderson SM, and MacLean PS.  2017.  Metformin Accumulation Correlates with Organic Cation Transporter 2 Protein Expression and Predicts Mammary Tumor Regression in Vivo.  Cancer Prevention Research 10 (3):  198-207.
  9. Wellberg EA, Johnson S, Finlay-Schultz J, Lewis AS, Terrell KL, Sartorius CA, Abel ED, Muller WJ, Anderson SM.  2016.  The glucose transporter GLUT1 is required for ErbB2-induced mammary tumorigenesis.  Breast Cancer Research 18 (1):  131. 
  10. Wellberg EA, Rudolph MC, Lewis AS, Padilla-Just N, Jedlicka P, Anderson SM.  2014.  Modulation of tumor fatty acids, through overexpression or loss of thyroid hormone responsive protein spot 14 is associated with altered growth and metastasis.  Breast Cancer Research 16 (6):  481.
  11. Wellberg E.A. and Anderson S.M. 2014.  FASNating targets of metformin in breast cancer stem-like cells.  Hormones and Cancer 5 (6):  358-362.

Adjunct Faculty

Sepideh Nikki Asadbeigi, MD

Sepideh N Asadbeigi, MD

Assistant Professor - Pathology


Adjunct Faculty - Dermatology

Prabir K. Chakraborty, PhD

Prabir K. Chakraborty, PhD

Assistant Professor (Research)

Daniel J. Cowden, MD, FCAP, CPHIMS

Daniel J. Cowden, MD, FCAP, CPHIMS

Clinical Associate Professor

Charles Esmon, PhD

Charles Esmon, PhD

Lloyd Noble Chair, Cardiovascular Research

Member & Head, Cardiovascular Biology Research at OMRF

Adjunct Professor, Pathology

Adjunct Professor, Biochemistry

Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute

David M Lewis, DDS

David M. Lewis, DDS

Associate Professor
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Pathology

Jeffrey McBride, MD, PhD

Jeffrey McBride, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Director of Dermatopathology

Adjunct Faculty - Pathology

Charles A. Montgomery, DVM, DACVP, DACLAM

Charles A. Montgomery, DVM, DACVP, DACLAM

Adjunct Professor
Department of Pathology
Division of Comparative Medicine

Kathy L. Moser, PhD

Kathy L. Moser, PhD

Associate Member, Arthritis & Immunology Program

Adjunct Faculty, Pathology

Aravindan Natarajan

Aravindan Natarajan, MS., MPhil., PhD., CCA.

Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology,
Associate Professor (Adjunct), Department of Anesthesiology,
Associate Professor (Adjunct), Department of Pathology
Course Director, Radiation Biology for Radiation Oncology Residents
Graduate Faculty, College of Medicine
Member, Cancer Biology Program

Amr H. Sawalha, MD

Amr H. Sawalha, MD

Assistant Member
Arthritis and Immunology Research Program

Assistant Professor of Medicine 
Department of Medicine

Staff Physician 
Veteran Affairs Medical Center
Oklahoma City

Adjunct Faculty
Department of Pathology