• Julienne L. Carstens, Ph.D., (Julie) is an investigator whose research is focused on understanding tumor biology with the goal of developing translational targets for pancreatic cancer. Her publications in top-tier journals highlight her work related to the fibrotic and immune tumor microenvironment and metastatic progression of cancer.

    Dr. Carstens earned her PhD from Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of David Spencer, PhD in the Department of Pathology and Immunology, where she studied the cellular and molecular biology of prostate cancer focusing on the cancer cell and tumor microenvironmental crosstalk. After defending her dissertation, she trained at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where she completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D.’s lab in the Department of Cancer Biology. She studied the specific roles that cancer and microenvironmental cells play in the progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer using genetic mouse models and multiplex image analysis.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2022 Identification of Functional Heterogeneity of Carcinoma-Associated Fibroblasts with Distinct IL6-Mediated Therapy Resistance in Pancreatic CancerCancer Discovery.  12:1580-1597. 2022
    2021 Stabilized epithelial phenotype of cancer cells in primary tumors leads to increased colonization of liver metastasis in pancreatic cancerCell Reports.  35. 2021
    2018 BMP7 signaling in TGFBR2-deficient stromal cells provokes epithelial carcinogenesisMolecular Cancer Research.  16:1568-1578. 2018
    2018 Dual reporter genetic mouse models of pancreatic cancer identify an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-independent metastasis programEMBO Molecular Medicine.  10. 2018
    2017 Morphologically constrained spectral unmixing by dictionary learning for multiplex fluorescence microscopy.Bioinformatics.  33:2182-2190. 2017
    2017 Low-dose hydralazine prevents fibrosis in a murine model of acute kidney injury–to–chronic kidney disease progressionKidney International.  91:157-176. 2017
    2017 Spatial computation of intratumoral T cells correlates with survival of patients with pancreatic cancerNature Communications.  8. 2017
    2015 Erratum to Depletion of Carcinoma-Associated Fibroblasts and Fibrosis Induces Immunosuppression and Accelerates Pancreas Cancer with Reduced Survival [Cancer Cell 25, 719-734; (2014)]Cancer Cell.  28:831-833. 2015
    2015 Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is dispensable for metastasis but induces chemoresistance in pancreatic cancerNature.  527:525-530. 2015
    2015 Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition induces cell cycle arrest and parenchymal damage in renal fibrosisNature Medicine.  21:998-1009. 2015
    2014 Depletion of carcinoma-associated fibroblasts and fibrosis induces immunosuppression and accelerates pancreas cancer with reduced survivalCancer Cell.  25:719-734. 2014
    2014 Microenvironment-dependent cues trigger miRNA-regulated feedback loop to facilitate the EMT/MET switchJournal of Clinical Investigation.  124:1458-1460. 2014
    2014 FGFR1-WNT-TGF-β signaling in prostate cancer mouse models recapitulates human reactive stromaCancer Research.  74:609-620. 2014
    2012 Activation of Wnt signaling by chemically induced dimerization of LRP5 disrupts cellular homeostasisPLoS One.  7. 2012

    Research Overview

  • Metastatic disease is the primary cause of cancer-associated deaths, as well as my focus in research. My work centers on pancreatic cancer, which is a highly metastatic and deadly disease with limited therapeutic options. The ultimate goal is to understand the cellular and molecular events that drive pancreatic cancer metastasis and resistance to a broad range of therapies. The Carstens Lab pursues this goal by utilizing novel genetic mouse and cell line models as well as advanced multispectral imaging, imaging mass spec and genomic, lipidomic and proteomic analyses in a cross-platform system of discovery and clinical translation. Our lab functions as an interdisciplinary “bridge lab” between tissue imaging, omic level bioinformatics, and mechanistic and translational cancer biology.

    Open projects in the lab:
    1. Epithelial modes of migration and metastasis
    2. Cancer-cell intrinsic metabolic determinants of metastatic behavior
    3. PET-imaging of metabolic pathways as non-invasive tumor sub-typing
    4. Systemic and Cancer cell subtype metabolic interactions in determining metastatic location
    5. Cancer cell metabolism as as mechanism of immune escape
  • Teaching Overview

  • There is no aspect of the academic profession that I enjoy more than mentoring. My central objective for each person is to become a thoughtful and productive experimentalist. I break this down into seven skill categories: (1) proper laboratory techniques, (2) in-depth understanding of protocols and methodology, (3) experimental design, (4) data organization, (5) data analysis and statistics, (6) data presentation, (7) and the ability to understand and critique the relevant literature. Mastery of these overarching skills is structured uniquely for each person based upon existing strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, I have found that encouraging my trainees to use their strengths to help others greatly eases the stress of diligently working on weaknesses. This has the added benefit of establishing healthy team work, where everyone involved contributes to the success of the whole group.

    The Carstens Lab is a place of personal and professional growth, where each member works together as team towards the central goal: to understand and treat metastatic cancer for improved patient outcomes. We do this by maintaining honesty, respect, generous collaboration, and scientific excellence in all the work we do.
  • Education And Training

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center Cancer Biology, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Cell / Cellular and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine 2013
  • Bachelor of Science or Mathematics in Cell / Cellular and Molecular Biology, Louisiana Tech University 2007
  • Full Name

  • Julienne Carstens