Meet Distinguished Scientist Adam Karpf, Ph.D.

April 07, 2014

Image with caption: Adam Karpf, Ph.D.

Adam Karpf, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the 16 researchers and one community member who will be honored at an April 21 ceremony. The recipients include the 2013 Scientist Laureate, six New Investigators, eight Distinguished Scientists, two Research Leadership awardees, and a Community Service to Research honoree.

  • Name: Adam Karpf, Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, Eppley Institute
  • Joined UNMC: December 2011
  • Hometown: Ft. Myers, Fla.

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
We study cancer epigenetics. Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression that are independent of changes in DNA sequence. Our research focuses on the identification of epigenetic alterations in various cancers, and the development of therapeutic approaches that target epigenetic pathways.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
As one example, we have discovered that epigenetic changes can lead to the activation of a specific class of tumor antigens in human cancers. Additionally, we showed that a class of epigenetic modulatory drugs can cause further activation of these antigens in cancer. Based on these laboratory observations, we recently completed a clinical study in which we found that treatment with a specific epigenetic drug augments anti-tumor immune responses and provides clinical benefit in ovarian cancer patients. We are currently expanding on this observation in larger clinical studies.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
A previous mentor stated "It's all about the data," and I think about that often. Another mentor stated that success in science requires a great deal of perseverance, which any practicing scientist can appreciate. This of course also applies to life.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I have lived in five U.S. states for at least five years each.
  • I have enjoyed helping coach my two sons' basketball teams at different times.
  • I am a lifelong (and long-suffering) Miami Dolphins football fan.


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