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Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T. » EOHSI Directory


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

Associate Professor Rutgers University – Ernest Mario School of PharmacyEOHSI – Toxicology
Address EOHSI Room 426 (Labs: Rooms 439, 434, 430, and 429) 170 Frelinghuysen Rd Piscataway New Jersey 08854 Phone: 848-445-5518 (office) Phone: 848-445-0187 (lab)
Photo of Lauren Aleksunes Pharm.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T.

Biographical Info

Dr. Aleksunes is an Associate Professor in the Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology.

Research Areas

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. As a result, transporters limit the cellular accumulation of drugs and toxicants. 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. The Aleksunes laboratory is funded by NIH R01ES021800, R01ES020522, R21DK093903, F31HD082965, PhRMA and AFPE.


Research Highlights

The Aleksunes laboratory includes research and clinical scientists (Xia Wen), graduate students (Blessy George, Dahea You, John Szilagyi, Rachel Ritzau and Ludwik Gorczyca), Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows (Lupe Garcia), and undergraduate students (Fatimah Mosaad, Josh Kancylarz).

  • Identification of pharmacogenetic risk factors 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.


Scholarly Activities

In the News

  • Aleksunes was awarded the 2016 Achievement Award from the Society of Toxicology http://toxchange.toxicology.org/p/bl/et/blogid=0&blogaid=1748&source=6
  • In 2015, Dr. Aleksunes was awarded the Mentor of the Year from AFPE, a Global Scientific Achievement Award from Xenotech and the Tradition of Excellence Award from the UConn Pharmacy Alumni Association.
  • At the 2016 MidAtlantic Society of Toxicology meeting, Diana You, PharmD and John Szilagyi won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the poster competition. John Szilagyi also received the Student Achievement Award.
  • Lue Garcia, MD, was honored with 2nd Place in the NJ Maternal-Fetal Medicine Meeting in 2016.
  • Blessy George, PharmD, received the Graduate Student Achievement Award from the Biotechnology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology in 2016.
  • Ludwik Gorczyca was awarded the Sheldon D Murphy Award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology in 2016.
  • Aleksunes became a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology in 2012.
  • NIEHS announced the 2012 Outstanding New Environmental Scientists awardees, including Dr. Aleksunes.

Recent Publications

  1. Bircsak, KM, Moscovitz, JE, Wen, X, Archer, F, Yuen, PYS, Mohammed, M, Memon, N, Weinberger, BI, Saba, LM, Vetrano, AM et al.. Interindividual Regulation of the Breast Cancer Resistance Protein/ABCG2 Transporter in Term Human Placentas. Drug Metab. Dispos. 2018;46 (5):619-627. doi: 10.1124/dmd.117.079228. PubMed PMID:29386232 PubMed Central PMC5896368
  2. George, B, Joy, MS, Aleksunes, LM. Urinary protein biomarkers of kidney injury in patients receiving cisplatin chemotherapy. Exp. Biol. Med. (Maywood). 2018;243 (3):272-282. doi: 10.1177/1535370217745302. PubMed PMID:29231123 PubMed Central PMC5813872
  3. Blundell, C, Yi, YS, Ma, L, Tess, ER, Farrell, MJ, Georgescu, A, Aleksunes, LM, Huh, D. Placental Drug Transport-on-a-Chip: A Microengineered In Vitro Model of Transporter-Mediated Drug Efflux in the Human Placental Barrier. Adv Healthc Mater. 2018;7 (2):. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201700786. PubMed PMID:29121458 PubMed Central PMC5793852
  4. Chang, C, Hu, Y, Hogan, SL, Mercke, N, Gomez, M, O'Bryant, C, Bowles, DW, George, B, Wen, X, Aleksunes, LM et al.. Pharmacogenomic Variants May Influence the Urinary Excretion of Novel Kidney Injury Biomarkers in Patients Receiving Cisplatin. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18 (7):. doi: 10.3390/ijms18071333. PubMed PMID:28640195 PubMed Central PMC5535826
  5. Szilagyi, JT, Vetrano, AM, Laskin, JD, Aleksunes, LM. Localization of the placental BCRP/ABCG2 transporter to lipid rafts: Role for cholesterol in mediating efflux activity. Placenta. 2017;55 :29-36. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2017.04.006. PubMed PMID:28623970 PubMed Central PMC5497756
  6. Xu, H, Medina, S, Lauer, FT, Douillet, C, Liu, KJ, Hudson, LG, Stýblo, M, Aleksunes, LM, Burchiel, SW. Efflux Transporters Regulate Arsenite-Induced Genotoxicity in Double Negative and Double Positive T Cells. Toxicol. Sci. 2017;158 (1):127-139. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfx075. PubMed PMID:28472378
  7. Wen, X, Joy, MS, Aleksunes, LM. In Vitro Transport Activity and Trafficking of MRP2/ABCC2 Polymorphic Variants. Pharm. Res. 2017;34 (8):1637-1647. doi: 10.1007/s11095-017-2160-0. PubMed PMID:28405913 PubMed Central PMC5500460
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Categories: Faculty, Toxicology

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