Diane L. Carlisle, PhD

Assistant Professor

Diane Carlisle


UPMC Presbyterian, 200 Lothrop Street, Suite B-400
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Diane Carlisle, PhD, joined the Department of Neurological Surgery in October 2010. She received her undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Washington and Jefferson College and her graduate degree in molecular and cellular oncology from George Washington University where she identified new signaling pathways involved in occupational causes of lung cancer.

Dr. Carlisle came to the University of Pittsburgh after a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Robert Casero Jr., PhD, in drug development for lung cancer. She then developed an independent research program using stem cells to investigate adult disease.

The mission of her laboratory is to use human pluripotent stem cells as a developmental model to determine the molecular alterations in cell fate decisions caused by prenatal nicotine exposure, including dysregulation of the canonical WNT/NMYC axis. She investigates gene-environment interactions using developmental models in neural and lung development for the purpose of understanding the effect of fetal exposures on the development of diverse adult diseases, including ALS and COPD. Furthermore, she uses her expertise in pluripotent stem cell methods and directed differentiation to collaborate in her department and across the university in cross disciplinary projects that use pluripotent stem cell technologies.

In addition, she serves as faculty and course coordinator of the NIH-funded stem cell course, Frontiers in Stem Cells and Regeneration, which is held annually at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, Mass.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Fetal basis for adult disease; use of stem cells for developmental modeling and drug discovery; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

Professional Organization Membership

American Association for Cancer Research 
American Society for Cell Biology 
International Society for Stem Cell Research

Education & Training

BA, Biology, Washington & Jefferson College, 1994
PhD, Molecular and Cellular Oncology, George Washington University, 1999
Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, 2001

Selected Publications

Carlisle DL, Pritchard DE, Singh J, Owens BM, Blankenship LJ, et al. Apoptosis and P53 induction in human lung fibroblasts exposed to chromium (VI): effect of ascorbate and tocopherol. Toxicological Sciences 55(1):60-8, 2000.

Carlisle DL, Pritchard DE, Singh J, Patierno SR. Chromium(VI) induces p53-dependent apoptosis in diploid human lung and mouse dermal fibroblasts.
Molecular Carcinogenesis 28(2):111-8, 2000.

Carlisle DL, Devereux WL, Hacker A, Woster PM, Casero RA Jr. Growth status significantly affects the response of human lung cancer cells to antitumor
polyamine-analogue exposure. Clinical Cancer Research 8(8):2684-9, 2002.

Carlisle DL, Hopkins TM, Gaither-Davis A, Silhanek MJ, Luketich JD, et al. Nicotine signals through muscle-type and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine
receptors in both human bronchial epithelial cells and airway fibroblasts. Respiratory Research 5:27, 2004.

Carlisle DL, Liu X, Hopkins TM, Swick MC, Dhir R, et al. Nicotine activates cell-signaling pathways through muscle-type and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in non-small cell lung cancer cells. Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 20(6):629-41, 2007.

Simerly CR, Navara CS, Castro CA, Turpin JC, Redinger CJ, et al. Establishment and characterization of baboon embryonic stem cell lines: an Old World Primate model for regeneration and transplantation research. Stem Cell Research 2(3):178-87, 2009.

Easley CA 4th, Ben-Yehudah A, Redinger CJ, Oliver SL, Varum ST, et al. mTOR-mediated activation of p70 S6K induces differentiation of pluripotent human
embryonic stem cells. Cellular Reprogramming 12(3):263-73, 2010.

Ben-Yehudah A, Campanaro BM, Wakefield LM, Kinney TN, Brekosky J, et al. Nicotine exposure during differentiation causes inhibition of N-myc expression.
Respiratory Research 14:119, 2013.

Yano H, Baranov SV, Baranova OV, Kim J, Pan Y, et al. Inhibition of mitochondrial protein import by mutant huntingtin. Nature Neuroscience 17(6):822-31, 2014.

Khattar NK, Yablonska S, Baranov SV, Baranova OV, Kretz ES, et al. Isolation of functionally active and highly purified neuronal mitochondria from human cortex. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 263:1-6, 2016.

A complete list of Dr. Carlisle's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Research Activities

Dr. Carlisle has characterized a new protocol for differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into organoid tissues for the purpose of studying development in vitro. She has tested a number of methods and optimized a method for deriving lung tissues, including epithelium, fibroblasts, and smooth muscle, in concert. Dr. Carlisle has found that they lose expression of pluripotency markers and first express markers consistent with germ lineage commitment, followed by specific lung cell types. She has also found that the method can be used to investigate the effects of knockdown of specific genes and also to determine the effects of chemical exposures such as nicotine. In 2016, Dr. Carlisle obtained additional funding to implement a similar protocol that will enable the development of neural organoids for the study of neurological diseases, such as ALS.