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L. Ashley Cowart, Ph.D.

Massey Cancer Center research program membership

Cancer Cell Signaling

Massey Cancer Center leadership roles

Director, VCU Lipidomics/Metabolomics Shared Resource

Department affiliations

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine


PhD, Vanderbilt University (2001)

Awards and honors

Award for Outstanding Research, 1995, Furman University Biology Department

Research description

Our laboratory studies obesity and the links between obesity and cancer. Several of our active projects assess the role of bioactive sphingolipids in cancer progression and metastasis. Specifically, fatty liver disease (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) raises the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. We are testing mechanisms for this progression and have evidence that sphingosine-1-phosphate, a sphingolipid ligand for a family of G protein-coupled receptors, plays a major role in disease progression. We are also assessing roles of a novel class of sphingolipids in mitochondrial dysfunction and intrinsic cell death. Moreover, our basic research addresses production of ceramides, key sphingolipid players in cell senescence, apoptosis, autophagy, and other processes highly relevant to cancer.

Disease focus of research

Endocrine/neuroendocrine, Hepatic, Other

Research keywords

Animal models,Apoptosis,Autophagy,Bioinformatics,Cell signaling,Inflammation,Lipid signaling,Metabolism,Obesity,Signal transduction,Translational science

Published research (during tenure as a Massey Cancer Center member)

Search In PubMed

Contact information


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