407 South Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Office: (217) 244-5477
Lab: (217) 300-1418
Erik Nelson is a professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and is affiliated with the Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cancer Center at Illinois (Urbana), University of Illinois Cancer Center (Chicago), as well as the Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People research theme within the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.
Dr. Nelson has been named the 2020-2021 Gunsalus Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for his work on cholesterol metabolism and cancer.
Cell-Cell Interactions, Drug Discovery, Endocrinology, Metabolic Regulation, Regulation of Gene Expression, Signal Transduction
Disease Research Interests
Cancer, Drug Discovery
Endocrine and Metabolic Control of Breast and Ovarian Cancer Pathophysiology
Patients with metastatic breast and ovarian cancer continue to have a very poor prognosis. The magnitude of this problem provides a strong impetus for studies that may lead to new chemopreventative strategies and/or lifestyle changes that reduce morbidity from these cancers. Therefore, the goal of our research is to elucidate the effects of the endocrine system and metabolism on breast and ovarian cancer initiation and progression. We integrate our expertise in physiology, endocrinology, immunology and in vivo models to pursue translational breast and ovarian cancer research.
We have found that cholesterol metabolism plays critical roles in tumors, including in the immune cells that infiltrate tumors. We hope to leverage this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic approaches to treat breast and ovarian cancers.
The major focuses of the lab are:
- Using cholesterol biology to reprogram tumor associated immune cells.
- Defining the mechanisms by which cholesterol metabolites impact tumor progression and metastasis.
- Delineating the role of nuclear receptor signaling within the tumor microenvironment and its impact on tumor progression.
- Determining what regulates extracellular vesicles.
2002 B.Sc. in Zoology, University of Calgary, Canada
2008 Ph.D. in Comparative Endocrinology, University of Calgary, Canada
2008-2014 Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC
Awards and Honors
2021 Named the Era of Hope Scholar by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program
2020 Named the 2020-2021 I.C. Gunsalus Scholar at the University of Illinois
2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 List of Teachers Ranked Excellent By Their Students
2013 National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award
2013 Robert J. Fitzgerald Academic Achievement Award. Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University School of Medicine
2012 The Endocrine Society Award for Outstanding Paper in Endocrinology for 2011
2011 Robert J. Fitzgerald Scholar Award: Outstanding publication in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center
2009 Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
2008 Government of Alberta Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship
Baek AE, Krawczynska N, Das Gupta A, Dvoretskiy SV, You S, Park J, Deng YH, Sorrells JE, Smith BP, Ma L, Nelson AT, McDowell HB, Sprenger A, Henn MA, Madak-Erdogan Z, Kong H, Boppart SA, Boppart MD, Nelson E.R. (2021). The cholesterol metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol increases the secretion of extracellular vesicles which promote breast cancer progression. Endocrinology. Link to Paper
Ma L, Wang L, Nelson AT, Han C, He S, Henn MA, Menon K, Chen JJ, Baek AE, Vardanyan A, Shahoei SH, Park S, Shapiro DJ, Nanjappa SG, Nelson E.R.. (2020). 27-Hydroxycholesterol acts on myeloid immune cells to induce T cell dysfunction, promoting breast cancer progression. Cancer Letters. Link to Paper
He S., Ma L., Baek A.E., Vardanyan A., Vembar V., Chen J.J., Nelson A.T., Burdette J.E., and Nelson E.R. (2019). Host CYP27A1 expression is essential for ovarian cancer progression. Endocrine Related Cancer , Link to Paper
Shahoei, S.H., Kim, Y.C., Cler, S., Ma, L., Anakk, S., Kemper J.K. and Nelson E.R. (2019). Small Heterodimer Partner regulates dichotomous T cell expansion by macrophages. Endocrinology. Link to Paper
Shahoei S.H., and Nelson E.R. (2019). Nuclear Receptors, Cholesterol Homeostasis and the Immune System. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Link to Paper
Baek A.E., Yu Y.R., He S., Wardell S.E., Chang C.Y., Kwon S., Pillai R.V., Thompson W., Dubois L.G., Sullivan P.M., Kemper J.K., Gunn M.D., McDonnell D.P., and Nelson E.R. (2017). The cholesterol metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol facilitates breast cancer metastasis through its actions on immune cells. Nature Communications, 8(1):864. PMCID: PMC5636879 Link to Paper
Nelson E.R., Wardell S.E., Jasper J.S., Park S., Suchindran S., Howe M.K.,Carver N.J., Pillai R.V., Sullivan P.M., Sondhi V., Umetani M., Geradts J., and McDonnell D.P. (2013). 27-Hydroxycholesterol Links Hypercholesterolemia and Breast Cancer Pathophysiology. Science. 342(6162):1094-8. PMID: 24288332. Link to Paper
Nelson E.R., DuSell C.D., Wang X., Howe M.K., Evans G., Michalek R.D., Rathmell J.C., Khosla S., Gesty-Palmer D., and McDonnell D.P. (2011). The oxysterol, 27-hydroxycholesterol, links cholesterol metabolism to bone homeostasis through its actions on the estrogen and liver X receptors. Endocrinology. 152(12): 4691-705. PMCID: PMC3230052.
Michalek R.D., Gerriets V.A., Nichols A.G., Inoue M., Kazmin D., Chang C-Y, Dwyer M., Nelson E.R., Pollizzi K.N., Ilkayeva O., Giguere V., Zuercher W.J., Powell J.D., Shinohara M.L., McDonnell D.P., Rathmell J.C. (2011). Estrogen Related Receptor-α is a Metabolic Regulator of Effector T cell Activation and Differentiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108(45): 18348-53. PMCID: PMC3215012
Deng, H., Konopka, C. J., Prabhu, S., Sarkar, S., Medina, N. G., Fayyaz, M., Arogundade, O. H., Vidana Gamage, H. E., Shahoei, S. H., Nall, D., Youn, Y., Dobrucka, I. T., Audu, C. O., Joshi, A., Melvin, W. J., Gallagher, K. A., Selvin, P. R., Nelson, E. R., Dobrucki, L. W., ... Smith, A. M. (2022). Dextran-Mimetic Quantum Dots for Multimodal Macrophage Imaging In Vivo, Ex Vivo, and In Situ. ACS Nano, 16(2), 1999–2012. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c07010
Ma, L., Cho, W., & Nelson, E. R. (2022). Our evolving understanding of how 27-hydroxycholesterol influences cancer. Biochemical Pharmacology, 196, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2021.114621
Ma, L., Vidana Gamage, H. E., Tiwari, S., Han, C., Henn, M. A., Krawczynska, N., Dibaeinia, P., Koelwyn, G. J., Das Gupta, A., Bautista Rivas, R. O., Wright, C. L., Xu, F., Moore, K. J., Sinha, S., & Nelson, E. R. (2022). The Liver X Receptor Is Selectively Modulated to Differentially Alter Female Mammary Metastasis-associated Myeloid Cells. Endocrinology (United States), 163(7), [bqac072]. https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqac072
Nelczyk, A. T., Ma, L., Gupta, A. D., Gamage, H. E. V., McHenry, M. T., Henn, M. A., Kadiri, M., Wang, Y., Krawczynska, N., Bendre, S., He, S., Shahoei, S. H., Madak-Erdogan, Z., Hsiao, S. H., Saleh, T., Carpenter, V., Gewirtz, D. A., Spinella, M. J., & Nelson, E. R. (2022). The nuclear receptor TLX (NR2E1) inhibits growth and progression of triple- negative breast cancer. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease, 1868(11), . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2022.166515
Ren, P., Tiede, C., Fanning, S. W., Adams, T., Speirs, V., Nelson, E., Cheng, C., Moore, T. W., Greene, G. L., Tomlinson, D., & Selvin, P. R. (Accepted/In press). Labeling of a mutant estrogen receptor with an Affimer in a breast cancer cell line. Biophysical journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2022.06.028