Our Faculty

Lauren Aleksunes, Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T.


Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute

Division of Toxicology

Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Rutgers University

Room 426 (Labs: Rooms 439, 434, 430, and 429)

170 Frelinghuysen Rd Piscataway New Jersey 08854

Work Phone: 848-445-5518 (office) Work Phone: 848-445-0187 (lab)


Dr. Aleksunes is Professor in the Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Project Lead of the NJ Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science CTSA Workforce Development Core, and Director of the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Dr. Aleksunes is also a member of the CounterAct Research Center of Excellence where she Co-Leads the Research Education Core and Pharmacology and Drug Development Core. Within the NIEHS P30 Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease, Dr. Aleksunes is Co-Director of the Environmental/Chemical Pathology Core and Co-Director of Career Development and Mentoring

Research Areas

Drugs and chemicals are often too large to enter and exit cells unassisted. Transporter proteins can be used as gates that regulate which chemicals leave cells. In fact, the ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC) are members of a superfamily of transporters found in the plasma membrane. ABC transporters function as efflux pumps that remove chemicals from the cell. Our laboratory studies members of three families of efflux transporters: ABCB1 (Multidrug resistance protein 1, MDR1, P-glycoprotein), ABCC1-6 (Multidrug resistance-associated proteins, MRP), and ABCG2 (Breast cancer resistance protein, BCRP). These transporters are important in removing chemicals from the liver and kidneys and can protect against target organ toxicity. Similarly, these efflux pumps are expressed in the placenta and participate in maternal-fetal xenobiotic disposition, thereby protecting the developing fetus from toxicant exposure.

Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory investigates how drug transporters in the liver, kidneys, brain, and placenta protect against the accumulation and toxicity of pharmaceuticals and environmental chemicals. Her studies aim to 1) characterize substrates and inhibitors for efflux transporters, 2) determine how genetic variants influence transporter function, and 3) understand the regulatory mechanisms that control expression of transporters. Dr. Aleksunes’ laboratory utilizes molecular biology, cell biology, in vivo transgenic animal, explant human tissue, biomarkers of toxicity, and pharmacokinetic approaches to study the interplay of drug transport and toxicology.

Dr. Aleksunes and her laboratory are funded by NIH R01ES021800, R01ES029275, R01GM123330, and F31ES029794 Dr. Aleksunes is Principal Investigator for T32ES007148 and R25ES020721 and Intern Programs from the Society of Toxicology and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. She also participates in U54TR002258 and U54AR055073.

Areas of Study

The Aleksunes laboratory includes research scientists (Xia Wen), graduate students (Ludwik Gorczyca, Danielle Kozlosky, and Maxine Abustan), postdoctoral fellows (Ranran Zhang and Lauren Walker), and undergraduate students (Fatimah Mosaad, Brian Rinelli, Chris Pella, Duaa Eisa, Hye Min Shin, Perihan Badawy, Rebecca Sun, and Victoria Woo). Students from China Pharmaceutical University and Sun Yat-Sen University spend rotations in the Aleksunes laboratory as well.

Highlights from the research team include:

  • Identification of pharmacogenetic risk factors, drug interactions, and biomarkers for cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in humans.
  • Investigation of enterohepatic bile acid signaling and homeostasis during pregnancy.
  • Characterization of environmental chemicals as substrates and inhibitors of human placental efflux transporters.
  • Elucidation of regulatory mechanisms controlling transporter expression in the placenta.
  • Characterization of cell-cell communication between microglia and brain endothelial cells.
  • Identification of transporters in the blood-brain barrier that regulate exposure to pesticides.
  • Screening of diverse chemical sets to inform the development and refinement of virtual Adverse Outcome Pathways (vAOPs)

Scholarly Activities

In the News

Recent Publications

  1. Memon, N, Lee, CW, Herdt, A, Weinberger, BI, Hegyi, T, Carayannopoulos, MO, Aleksunes, LM, Guo, GL, Griffin, IJ. Suppression of Bile Acid Synthesis in a Preterm Infant Receiving Prolonged Parenteral Nutrition. J Clin Exp Hepatol. ;12 (1):200-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jceh.2021.04.007. PubMed PMID:35068799 PubMed Central PMC8766543
  2. Kozlosky, D, Barrett, E, Aleksunes, LM. R egulation of Placental Efflux Transporters During Pregnancy Complications. Drug Metab Dispos. 2022; :. doi: 10.1124/dmd.121.000449. PubMed PMID:34992073
  3. Meakin, C, Barrett, ES, Aleksunes, LM. Extravillous trophoblast migration and invasion: Impact of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Reprod Toxicol. 2022;107 :60-68. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2021.11.008. PubMed PMID:34838982 PubMed Central PMC8760155
  4. Ciallella, HL, Russo, DP, Aleksunes, LM, Grimm, FA, Zhu, H. Revealing Adverse Outcome Pathways from Public High-Throughput Screening Data to Evaluate New Toxicants by a Knowledge-Based Deep Neural Network Approach. Environ Sci Technol. 2021;55 (15):10875-10887. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.1c02656. PubMed PMID:34304572 PubMed Central PMC8713073
  5. Abed, DA, Lee, S, Wen, X, Ali, AR, Mangipudy, V, Aleksunes, LM, Hu, L. Optimization of 1,4-bis(arylsulfonamido)naphthalene-N,N’-diacetic acids as inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 protein-protein interaction to suppress neuroinflammation. Bioorg Med Chem. 2021;44 :116300. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2021.116300. PubMed PMID:34252790 PubMed Central PMC8349900
  6. George, B, Wen, X, Jaimes, EA, Joy, MS, Aleksunes, LM. In Vitro Inhibition of Renal OCT2 and MATE1 Secretion by Antiemetic Drugs. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22 (12):. doi: 10.3390/ijms22126439. PubMed PMID:34208557 PubMed Central PMC8234231
  7. Hong, TS, Briscese, K, Yuan, M, Deshpande, K, Aleksunes, LM, Brunetti, L. Renoprotective Effects of Melatonin against Vancomycin-Related Acute Kidney Injury in Hospitalized Patients: a Retrospective Cohort Study. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2021;65 (9):e0046221. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00462-21. PubMed PMID:34152824 PubMed Central PMC8370200
  8. Wen, X, Kozlosky, D, Zhang, R, Doherty, C, Buckley, B, Barrett, E, Aleksunes, LM. BCRP/ABCG2 Transporter Regulates Accumulation of Cadmium in Kidney Cells: Role of the Q141K Variant in Modulating Nephrotoxicity. Drug Metab Dispos. 2021;49 (8):629-637. doi: 10.1124/dmd.121.000446. PubMed PMID:34074729 PubMed Central PMC8382159
  9. Kinkade, CW, Rivera-Núñez, Z, Gorcyzca, L, Aleksunes, LM, Barrett, ES. Impact of Fusarium-Derived Mycoestrogens on Female Reproduction: A Systematic Review. Toxins (Basel). 2021;13 (6):. doi: 10.3390/toxins13060373. PubMed PMID:34073731 PubMed Central PMC8225184
  10. Gorczyca, L, Du, J, Bircsak, KM, Wen, X, Vetrano, AM, Aleksunes, LM. Low oxygen tension differentially regulates the expression of placental solute carriers and ABC transporters. FEBS Lett. 2021;595 (6):811-827. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.13937. PubMed PMID:32978975 PubMed Central PMC7987846
Search PubMed

170 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 – 848-445-0200  Fax: 732-445-0131

Copyright © 2021, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey