Gillings School Directory

Liza Makowski, PhD

Dr. Liza Makowski

Liza Makowski, PhD

Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Nutrition

The Makowski lab studies mechanisms underlying metabolic reprogramming of immune cells and how this might alter the progression of diseases including obesity and cancer. Our primary interest is to investigate how macrophage biology is influenced by fuel sources, such as glucose or fatty acids. We have focused on the following themes to build our program: 1) diet exposure and effects on inflammation; 2) manipulating fuel metabolism in immune cells; 3) examining supporting cells in the microenvironment, called the stroma, in cancer risk and progression; and 4) using metabolomics to understand how metabolism may influence cell biology. Findings from these studies will provide targeted strategies through dietary interventions or pharmacologic therapies to translate into novel avenues of prevention and treatment. The list of chronic diseases addressed by our research includes obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity-driven cancers.

Honors and Awards

Honorary Public Health Society Delta Omega Theta Chapter Faculty Award and Membership

2014, UNC-CH

Junior Faculty Development Award, Committee on Faculty Research, Vice Chancellor and Provost

2012, UNC-CH

Early Career Investigator Award

2011, Kern Aspen Lipid Conference

Research Activities

Active Projects

  • Metabolic reprogramming of macrophages and inflammation
  • Macrophage substrate metabolism- Obesity, inflammation and diabetes
  • Macrophage substrate metabolism- Atherosclerosis
  • Obesity, weight loss, kinases, and breast cancer

Research Interests

  • Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure Science
  • Heart Disease and Stroke
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Obesity

Key Publications

Weight loss reduces basal-like breast cancer through kinome reprogramming. Yuanyuan Qin; Sneha Sundaram; Luma Essaid; Xin Chen; Samantha Marie Miller; Feng Yan; David Brian Darr; Joseph A. Galanko; Stephanie A Montgomery; Michael Ben Major; Gary L Johnson; Melissa A Troester; Liza Makowski Cancer Cell International.

cMET inhibitor crizotinib impairs angiogenesis and reduces tumor burden in the C3(1)-Tag model of basal-like breast cancer. Alyssa Joy Cozzo; Sneha Sundaram; Ottavia Zattra; Yuanyuan Qin; Alex J Freemerman; Luma Essaid; David B Darr; Stephanie A Montgomery; Kirk K McNaughton; J. Ashley Ezzell; Joseph A Galanko; Melissa A Troester; Liza Makowski Breast Cancer Collection SpringerPlus.

Cafeteria Diet-induced Obesity Causes Oxidative Damage in White Adipose. Amy R Johnson; Matthew D Wilkerson; Brante P Sampey; Melissa A Troester; D. Neil Hayes; Liza Makowski Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

Macrophage Fatty Acid Transporter 1 (FATP1) Drives Alternative Macrophage Polarization and Limits Obesity-Induced Inflammation. Johnson AR*, Qin YY*, Cozzo A, Freemerman AJ, Huang MJ, Zhao L, Sampey BP, Milner JJ, Beck MA, Edin ML, Zeldin D, Galanko JA, Lee D, Fueger PT, Damania B, Bivins B, Stahl A, Wu Y, Mohlke K, Makowski L (2016). Molecular Metabolism, 5(6), 1-21.


PhD, Nutritional Biochemistry, Harvard School of Public Health, 2003

MSc, Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, 1998

BS, Biology, Boston College, 1994

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