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Jan-Ake Gustafsson, MD, PhD

Full Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist


After completing his MD degree, Dr. Gustafsson was appointed Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Karolinska Institute in 1971, and was made full professor in 1976. In 1979, he was named Professor of Medical Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Medical Nutrition at Huddinge University Hospital at the Karolinska Institute. In 1987, together with Dr. John Baxter, founded Karo Bio, a campus-situated biotechnology company with approximately 80 employees, to develop and commercialize products to treat human diseases such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and breast cancer. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has published more than 1,300 peer-reviewed journal articles, and has trained over 200 Ph.D. students, post doctoral fellows, and visiting scientists. He was appointed Director of The Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling at the University of Houston, with a joint appointment at Houston Methodist Research Institute, in 2009.

Description of Research

Nuclear receptors are proteins embedded in the cell nucleus that bind hormones and influence gene expression. Dr. Gustafsson and his research team discovered a novel nuclear receptor (estrogen receptor beta, ER-ß) that plays a role in several human diseases including breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. The goal of his research is to develop small molecule modulators of this and other hormone receptors to treat human disease.

Areas Of Expertise

Breast cancer Nuclear receptors Estrogen receptors
Education & Training

PhD, Division of Clinical Chemistry, Department of Laboratory Medicine Karolinska Institutet

Farnesoid X receptor is essential for the survival of renal medullary collecting duct cells under hypertonic stress
Xu, S, Huang, S, Luan, Z, Chen, T, Wei, Y, Xing, M, Li, Y, Du, C, Wang, B, Zheng, F, Wang, N, Guan, Y, Gustafsson, JÅ & Zhang, X 2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 115, no. 21, pp. 5600-5605. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803945115

Pharmacological activation of estrogen receptor beta augments innate immunity to suppress cancer metastasis
Zhao, L, Huang, S, Mei, S, Yang, Z, Xu, L, Zhou, N, Yang, Q, Shen, Q, Wang, W, Le, X, Lau, WB, Lau, B, Wang, X, Yi, T, Zhao, X, Wei, Y, Warner, M, Gustafsson, JÅ & Zhou, S 2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 115, no. 16, pp. E3673-E3681. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803291115

ERb Sensitizes NSCLC to Chemotherapy by Regulating DNA Damage Response
Nikolos, F, Thomas, C, Bado, I & Gustafsson, JÅ 2018, Molecular Cancer Research, vol 16, no. 2, pp. 233-242. DOI: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-17-0201

Molecular mechanisms involved in the non-monotonic effect of bisphenol-a on ca2+ entry in mouse pancreatic ß-cells
Villar-Pazos, S, Martinez-Pinna, J, Castellano-Muñoz, M, Alonso-Magdalena, P, Marroqui, L, Quesada, I, Gustafsson, JA & Nadal, A 2017, Scientific Reports, vol 7, no. 1, 11770. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11995-3

Role of estrogen receptor beta in neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells
Varshney, MK, Inzunza, J, Lupu, D, Ganapathy, V, Antonson, P, Rüegg, J, Nalvarte, I & Gustafsson, JÅ 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 114, no. 48, pp. E10428-E10437. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1714094114

Somatic loss of estrogen receptor beta and p53 synergize to induce breast tumorigenesis
Bado, I, Nikolos, F, Rajapaksa, G, Wu, W, Castaneda, J, Krishnamurthy, S, Webb, P, Gustafsson, JÅ & Thomas, C 2017, Breast Cancer Research, vol 19, no. 1, 79. DOI: 10.1186/s13058-017-0872-z

Estrogen receptor ß, a regulator of androgen receptor signaling in the mouse ventral prostate
Wu, WF, Maneix, L, Insunza, J, Nalvarte, I, Antonson, P, Kere, J, Yu, NYL, Tohonen, V, Katayama, S, Einarsdottir, E, Krjutskov, K, Dai, YB, Huang, B, Su, W, Warner, M & Gustafsson, JÅ 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 114, no. 19, pp. E3816-E3822. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702211114

Liver X receptor a induces 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-13 expression through SREBP-1c
Su, W, Peng, J, Li, S, Dai, YB, Wang, CJ, Xu, H, Gao, M, Ruan, XZ, Gustafsson, JÅ, Guan, YF & Zhang, XY 2017, American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol 312, no. 4, pp. E357-E367. DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00310.2016

Liver X receptor ß increases aquaporin 2 protein level via a posttranscriptional mechanism in renal collecting ducts
Su, W, Huang, SZ, Gao, M, Kong, XM, Gustafsson, JÅ, Xu, SJ, Wang, B, Zheng, F, Chen, LH, Wang, NP, Guan, YF & Zhang, XY 2017, American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology, vol 312, no. 4, pp. F619-F628. DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00564.2016

Ablation of cytochrome P450 omega-hydroxylase 4A14 gene attenuates hepatic steatosis and fibrosis
Zhang, X, Li, S, Zhou, Y, Su, W, Ruan, X, Wang, B, Zheng, F, Warner, M, Gustafsson, JÅ & Guan, Y 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 114, no. 12, pp. 3181-3185. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1700172114

High-Fat Diet Induces Unexpected Fatal Uterine Infections in Mice with aP2-Cre-mediated Deletion of Estrogen Receptor Alpha
Ban, Z, Maurischat, P, Benz, V, Brix, S, Sonnenburg, A, Schuler, G, Klopfleisch, R, Rothe, M, Gustafsson, JÅ, Foryst-Ludwig, A & Kintscher, U 2017, Scientific Reports, vol 7, 43269. DOI: 10.1038/srep43269

Sex differences and effects of oestrogen in rat gastric mucosal defence
Shore, R, Björne, H, Omoto, Y, Siemiatkowska, A, Gustafsson, JÅ, Lindblad, M & Holm, L 2017, World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol 23, no. 3, pp. 426-436. DOI: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i3.426

Speedy A-Cdk2 binding mediates initial telomere-nuclear envelope attachment during meiotic prophase i independent of Cdk2 activation
Tu, Z, Bayazit, MB, Liu, H, Zhang, J, Busayavalasa, K, Risal, S, Shao, J, Satyanarayana, A, Coppola, V, Tessarollo, L, Singh, M, Zheng, C, Han, C, Chen, Z, Kaldis, P, Gustafsson, JÅ & Liu, K 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 114, no. 3, pp. 592-597. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618465114

Body weight homeostat that regulates fat mass independently of leptin in rats and mice
Jansson, JO, Palsdottir, V, Hägg, DA, Schéle, E, Dickson, SL, Anesten, F, Bake, T, Montelius, M, Bellman, J, Johansson, ME, Cone, RD, Drucker, DJ, Wu, J, Aleksic, B, Törnqvist, AE, Sjögren, K, Gustafsson, JÅ, Windahl, SH & Ohlsson, C 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 115, no. 2, pp. 427-432. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1715687114

Estrogen Receptor ß as a Pharmaceutical Target
Warner, M, Huang, B & Gustafsson, JA 2017, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, vol 38, no. 1, pp. 92-99. DOI: 10.1016/

Estrogen receptor ß2 induces proliferation and invasiveness of triple negative breast cancer cells; association with regulation of PHD3 and HIF-1a
Bialesova, L, Xu, L, Gustafsson, JÅ, Haldosen, LA, Zhao, C & Dahlman-Wright, K 2017, Oncotarget, vol 8, no. 44, pp. 76622-76633. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.20635

Intratumor heterogeneity predicts metastasis of triplenegative breast cancer
Yang, F, Wang, Y, Li, Q, Cao, L, Sun, Z, Jin, J, Fang, H, Zhu, A, Li, Y, Zhang, W, Wang, Y, Xie, H, Gustafsson, JÅ, Wang, S & Guan, X 2017, Carcinogenesis, vol 38, no. 9, pp. 900-909. DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgx071

Genomics of sex hormone receptor signaling in hepatic sexual dimorphism
Zheng, D, Wang, X, Antonson, P, Gustafsson, JÅ & Li, Z 2016, Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. DOI: 10.1016/j.mce.2017.05.025

An ERß agonist induces browning of subcutaneous abdominal fat pad in obese female mice
Miao, YF, Su, W, Dai, YB, Wu, WF, Huang, B, Barros, RPA, Nguyen, H, Maneix, L, Guan, YF, Warner, M & Gustafsson, JÅ 2016, Scientific Reports, vol 6, 38579. DOI: 10.1038/srep38579

Defective cholesterol metabolism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Abdel-Khalik, J, Yutuc, E, Crick, PJ, Gustafsson, J-Å, Warner, M, Roman, G, Talbot, K, Gray, E, Griffiths, WJ, Turner, MR & Wang, Y 2016, Journal of Lipid Research, vol 58, no. 1, pp. 267-278. DOI: 10.1194/jlr.P071639