Leah J. Siskind, Ph.D.


Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

CTRB 203 leah.siskind@louisville.edu 502–852–1283


Ph.D., Biology, University of Maryland (2003)

Research Areas and Projects

The Siskind laboratory has several different areas of interest and combines expertise at the biophysical, molecular, cellular, and animal level with the goal of translating findings to the clinic. The laboratory has several areas of focus. First, the Siskind laboratory aims to protect the kidney from the toxic effects of chemotherapeutics so that they can be more effectively utilized to treat cancer. Current chemotherapies such as cisplatin often have the deleterious side-effect of kidney toxicity which in almost 30% of cancer patients limits their use. Data from the Siskind laboratory indicates that repeated dosing of chemotherapeutics induces pro-fibrotic signaling pathways in the kidney, leading to long-term loss of kidney 0function. The Siskind laboratory aims to target these signaling pathways to protect the kidney from chemotherapeutics so that they can be utilized better to reduce tumor burden. In addition, the Siskind laboratory in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Levi Beverly studies fundamental cancer cell biology utilizing 3-dimentional models of tumors in culture to understand how interactions between cancer cells and the extracellular matrix alters tumor cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and metastasis.  In a collaboration with the laboratories of Drs. Beverly and Clark, the Siskind lab aims to develop a porcine model of lung cancer. They aim to determine if pigs represent a model system that more closely resemble the progression and metastasis of human cancer patients.  Furthermore, the lab aims to treat pigs with standard of care chemotherapeutic regimens, exactly as human patients would be treated, and determine if tumors demonstrate a similar response, as seen in patients.  Finally, they aim to determine if pigs can be used as a model for the testing of immune-modulatory therapeutics that are now being tested in humans.  Interestingly, they have found that the most exciting the therapies used in humans that target CTLA4 and PD-1 also bind to their porcine counterpart, raising the exciting possibility that these therapeutics will be able to be used in co-clinical trials in pigs to guide their usage in humans.