Ellen Voigt

Address: 2-551 BSB
Phone: (319) 335-7663
Email: ellen-voigt@uiowa.edu

Mentor: Dawn E. Quelle, PhD

Undergraduate Institution: Augustana University

Graduate Program: Cancer Biology | Medical Scientist Training Program

Year Entered Into Program: 2019

Research Description

Patients with a heritable disorder called Neurofibromatosis type I develop benign tumors called PNFs (plexiform neurofibromas) that sometimes transform into cancers called MPNSTs (malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors). MPNSTs are aggressive, deadly sarcomas with no effective treatment options. Why only some PNFs (~15-30%) transition into MPNSTs is poorly understood. Our goal is to better understand that process and, in so doing, identify new targets for cancer prevention and therapy. The most common mutations seen in patient MPNSTs include loss of critical tumor suppressor genes (NF1, INK4a, ARF, and INK4b) and increased expression of a tumor promoting protein, called RABL6A. While NF1 loss is a known tumor initiating event, the timing and importance of changes in the other genes for driving malignancy is unclear. Using CRISPR gene editing in cultured human PNFs and transgenic mouse tumor models, my project examines how different combinations of those alterations cooperate to promote transformation and ultimately malignant tumor growth.


  1. Koppenhafer SL, Goss KL, Voigt E, Croushore E, Terry WW, Ostergaard J, Gordon PM, Gordon DJ. Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (ID2) regulates the expression of developmental genes and tumorigenesis in ewing sarcoma. Oncogene. 2022 May;41(20):2873-2884. doi: 10.1038/s41388-022-02310-0. Epub 2022 Apr 14. PubMed PMID: 35422476; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9107507.

  2. Kohlmeyer JL, Kaemmer CA, Lingo JJ, Voigt E, Leidinger MR, McGivney GR, Scherer A, Koppenhafer SL, Gordon DJ, Breheny P, Meyerholz DK, Tanas MR, Dodd RD, Quelle DE. Oncogenic RABL6A promotes NF1-associated MPNST progression in vivo. Neurooncol Adv. 2022 Jan-Dec;4(1):vdac047. doi: 10.1093/noajnl/vdac047. eCollection 2022 Jan-Dec. PubMed PMID: 35571990; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9092646.

  3. Voigt E, Wallenburg M, Wollenzien H, Thompson E, Kumar K, Feiner J, McNally M, Friesen H, Mukherjee M, Afeworki Y, Kareta MS. Sox2 Is an Oncogenic Driver of Small-Cell Lung Cancer and Promotes the Classic Neuroendocrine Subtype. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Dec;19(12):2015-2025. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-20-1006. Epub 2021 Sep 30. PubMed PMID: 34593608; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8642303.

  4. Voigt EM, Adili R, Bormann JL, Foss KN, Hurley LJ, Meyer ES, Veldman AJ, Mast KA, West JL, Whiteheart SW, Holinstat M, Larson MK. In vivo modeling of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid-mediated inhibition of both platelet function and accumulation in arterial thrombi. Platelets. 2019;30(2):271-279. doi: 10.1080/09537104.2017.1420154. Epub 2017 Dec 29. PubMed PMID: 29286871; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6146071.

  5. Voigt E, Wollenzien H, Kareta MS. Somatic Pluripotent Genes in Tissue Repair, Developmental Disease, and Cancer. SPG Biomed. 2018;1(2). doi: 10.32392/biomed.18. Epub 2018 Oct 28. PubMed PMID: 31172135; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6548517.