Erik Nelson

Erik Nelson

Program Leader, Cancer Discovery Platforms (CDP)

Associate Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Research Program: Cancer Discovery Platforms Bridging the Engineering-Biology Continuum
Strategic Theme: Pathways & Mechanisms

Erik Nelson is a trained endocrinologist with specific expertise in nuclear receptor pharmacology. He has made significant contributions to the fields of reproductive physiology, pharmacology, bone biology and cancer biology. Breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. For this reason, Nelson integrated his expertise in physiology, endocrinology, and in vivo models to pursue translational breast cancer research. The overarching goal of the Nelson lab’s research is to develop novel chemopreventative strategies and lifestyle changes aimed at reducing cancer incidence and mortality.

Nelson received his Bachelors of Science from the University of Calgary with a major in Zoology and a minor in Chemistry. He completed his PhD in Comparative Endocrinology at the University of Calgary, and specialized in Pharmacology and Cancer Biology as a postdoctoral associate at Duke University School of Medicine. In August 2014 he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. He is also a member of the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Institute for Genome Biology and an associate member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center (Chicago). Dr. Nelson was the lead author on a seminal study which found that by activating the estrogen receptors, a cholesterol metabolite (27-hydroxycholesterol) was a biochemical link between obesity and breast tumor growth (Science, 2013). His group has recently shown that 27-hydroxycholesterol dramatically increases breast cancer metastasis by modulating the immune system (Nature Communications, 2017). Ongoing work aims to exploit these findings in order to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of cancer.