Mary Kay and AHA grants to fund Makowski’s research on obesity and cancer

June 06, 2013
Dr. Liza Makowski

Dr. Liza Makowski

Liza Makowski, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at Gillings School of Global Public Health, received two major awards this spring that will advance her work in obesity- and inflammation-related chronic diseases.

Makowski will serve as principal investigator for “Reversing carcinogenic effect of obesity on basal-like breast cancer,” a project funded by The Mary Kay Foundation. The prestigious two-year, $100,000 award will study the roles of weight gain, weight loss and growth factor signaling in a mouse model of basal-like breast cancer, a triple-negative subtype linked with obesity and known to be one of the most aggressive breast cancer subtypes.

A second project, “The Role of Macrophage Substrate Metabolism in Atherosclerosis,” is to be funded by an American Heart Association Beginning Grant-in-Aid for two years at $77,000 each year.

The Mary Kay Foundation Cancer Research Grant Program funds scientists focused on curing cancers that affect women. Since 1996, the Foundation has given more than $18.6 million to support this effort.

The American Heart Association award is designed to promote the independent status of promising beginning scientists. The award funds research related to cardiovascular function and disease, stroke, bioengineering and biotechnology, and other public health challenges.

Makowski earned Master of Science and doctoral degrees at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, respectively. She joined the UNC nutrition and biochemistry faculties in 2010.

Her research focuses on the ways metabolic reprogramming of immune cells can alter disease progression. Through diet, pharmacology and other avenues, she aims to manipulate metabolism to target chronic diseases associated with inflammation and obesity, including diabetes, atherosclerosis and certain cancers.


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or