Michael Karin, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology
Dr. Karin has spent his academic career investigating stress and inflammation signaling, covering the entire gamut of experimental approaches from biochemistry and molecular cell biology to animal pathophysiology. Discovering how infection, inflammation, radiation, or environmental stressors activate AP-1, NF-κB and other transcription factors, he investigated how these findings apply to the pathogenesis of cancer, degenerative and metabolic diseases.
Dr. Karin’s group has elucidated fundamental mechanisms through which inflammation and obesity promote tumor development and contribute to type II diabetes and insulin resistance. They were among the first to highlight the role of inflammation in metabolic disease. They established the mechanisms through which members of the IL-6 cytokine family control development of colorectal (CRC) and liver (HCC) cancers through activation of STAT3 and YAP and established the cell type specific mechanisms through which NF-κB activation via IκB kinases (IKK), which were the first group to discover, affect the pathogenesis of various cancers. We discovered that not only innate immune cells, namely macrophages, but also adaptive immune cells, T regulatory cells and B lymphocytes, contribute to tumorigenesis. Through this work, Dr. Karin and his team contributed to the establishment of the Inflammation and Cancer field. More recently, they demonstrated the existence of immunosuppressive plasma cells and their role in negative regulation of immunosurveillance and immunotherapy.
Dr. Karin’s current work is focused on HCC, CRC, and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). He established robust and accurate mouse models for studying non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-induced HCC and chronic pancreatitis-accelerated PDAC and used them to discover how adaptive immunity controls HCC development and the role of the autophagy substrate p62 in inflammation and HCC and PDAC pathogenesis. Dr. Karin’s group discovered how activation of the p62-KEAP1-NRF2 cascade confers resistance to autophagy inhibitors and established a new PDAC and HCC therapeutic approach targeting autophagy and macropinocytosis. In addition, Dr. Karin’s team has used mouse models to study how metabolism and nutrition affect NASH and HCC development focusing on the adverse effects of fructose and alcohol intake and toxicants.
Dr. Karin is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, USA. He received the AACR GHA Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research in 2020. Dr. Karin received his B.S. in Biology from Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, CA in Molecular Biology. He then completed Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research in Molecular Biology in Philadelphia, PA and at the University of California, San Francisco, CA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.