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Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Christina (Voelkel-)Johnson, PhD

Johnson PictureAssociate Professor
Microbiology and Immunology

1995-2000 Postdoctoral Fellow, MUSC

1995 Ph.D., North Carolina State University

Contact Info
Tel: 843-792-3125
Hollings Cancer Center Room HO-352

Research Interests

The long-term goal of my lab is to understand cancer signal transduction pathways and utilize the knowledge to improve cancer therapies. Specific areas of research include:

(1)Sphingolipids: Ceramide is a metabolite of sphingolipid metabolism that is involved in numerous physiological responses. My laboratory is focused on the roles of ceramide synthase 6 and acid ceramidase in cancer.
(2)Adoptive T cell therapy is a promising strategy for inoperable or advanced melanoma. Treatment success generally correlates with persistence of transferred T cells. My laboratory is interested in mechanisms underlying poor persistence and strategies by which adoptively transferred cells can be manipulated ex vivo to enhance persistence and function. 
(3)Delivery of therapeutic genes remains one of the challenges of cancer therapy. In collaboration with Dr. Kaushal Rege (Arizona State University), we are investigating gene delivery using polymers for gene delivery.

Recent Publications | Additional Publications

N-acetyl cysteine protects anti-melanoma cytotoxic T cells from exhaustion induced by rapid expansion via the downmodulation of Foxo1 in an Akt-dependent manner.
Scheffel MJ, Scurti G, Wyatt MM, Garrett-Mayer E, Paulos CM, Nishimura MI, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 Apr;67(4):691-702. doi: 10.1007/s00262-018-2120-5. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Ceramide Synthase 6 Deficiency Enhances Inflammation in the DSS model of Colitis.
Helke K, Angel P, Lu P, Garrett-Mayer E, Ogretmen B, Drake R, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 26;8(1):1627. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20102-z.

Adoptive Transfer of Ceramide Synthase 6 Deficient Splenocytes Reduces the Development of Colitis.
Scheffel MJ, Helke K, Lu P, Bowers JS, Ogretmen B, Garrett-Mayer E, Paulos CM, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 14;7(1):15552. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15791-x.

Therapeutic implications of bioactive sphingolipids: A focus on colorectal cancer.
Camp ER, Patterson LD, Kester M, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2017 Sep 2;18(9):640-650. doi: 10.1080/15384047.2017.1345396. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Vitamin D Modulation of TRAIL Expression in Human Milk and Mammary Epithelial Cells.
Sambandam Y, Reddy SV, Mulligan JL, Voelkel-Johnson C, Wagner CL.
Sci Rep. 2017 Jun 28;7(1):4362. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-04521-y.

Efficacy of Adoptive T-cell Therapy Is Improved by Treatment with the Antioxidant N-Acetyl Cysteine, Which Limits Activation-Induced T-cell Death.
Scheffel MJ, Scurti G, Simms P, Garrett-Mayer E, Mehrotra S, Nishimura MI, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Cancer Res. 2016 Oct 15;76(20):6006-6016.

Suppression of c-Myc and RRM2 expression in pancreatic cancer cells by the sphingosine kinase-2 inhibitor ABC294640.
Lewis CS, Voelkel-Johnson C, Smith CD.
Oncotarget. 2016 Sep 13;7(37):60181-60192. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.11112.

Sex differences in the MB49 syngeneic, murine model of bladder cancer.
White-Gilbertson S, Davis M, Voelkel-Johnson C, Kasman LM.
Bladder (San Franc). 2016;3(1). pii: e22. Epub 2016 Feb 26.

The Sphingosine Kinase 2 Inhibitor ABC294640 Reduces the Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells and Results in Accumulation of Dihydroceramides In Vitro and In Vivo.
Venant H, Rahmaniyan M, Jones EE, Lu P, Lilly MB, Garrett-Mayer E, Drake RR, Kraveka JM, Smith CD, Voelkel-Johnson C.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2015 Dec;14(12):2744-52. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0279. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Expression of Ceramide Synthase 6 Transcriptionally Activates Acid Ceramidase in a c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK)-dependent Manner.
Tirodkar TS, Lu P, Bai A, Scheffel MJ, Gencer S, Garrett-Mayer E, Bielawska A, Ogretmen B, Voelkel-Johnson C.
J Biol Chem. 2015 May 22;290(21):13157-67. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.631325. Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Research Support

P01 CA203628 (PI: Ogretmen)                                                                                         4/1/2016-3/31/2021
Development of Novel Cancer Therapeutics by Targeting Sphingolipid Signaling
Voelkel-Johnson Project 1: Acid Ceramidase-S1P Metabolic Axis and Regulation of Tumor Resistance to Apoptosis
Role: Project Leader

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