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Department of Biology


Dr. Mary Farwell



Area of Study: 

Biochemistry - gene expression regulation in cancer cells





Howell N-306


Department of Biology


East Carolina University


Greenville, NC 27858



Ph.D.: Dept. of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley, 1989

ScB.: Honors in Biology, Brown University, 1982

Research Program

Currently, I have two main areas of interest.  The first is gene regulation in cancer cells, and I collaborate on two major projects.  In collaboration with Dr. Brett Keiper, BSOM, we are using siRNA to change the expression of isoforms of translation initiation factors.  We hypothesize that specific isoforms of eIF4G are used in highly proliferative cells, such as cancer cells, and by individual knockdown of these isoforms, we can affect the proliferation of these cells or the susceptibility of these cells to apoptotic inducers such as chemotherapeutic drugs.  In addition, I have an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Baohong Zhang of Biology, who is interested in the role of microRNA in cancer treatment.  We showed that green tea extract alters the expression of specific microRNA genes that are associated with breast cancer.

Additionally, I have an interest in STEM education.  In collaboration with Dr. MHN Tabrizi, Department of Computer Science, we are looking at the effects of a new virtual reality software program on learning outcomes in students in STEM fields.  In addition, I have a project that is looking at whether STEM activities will influence 8th grade girl’s choices to take higher leve math courses in high school.

Courses Taught

BIOL 2100, 2101. Basic Laboratory Methods for Biotechnology.

BIOL 4230 Concepts in Cell Biology


Recent Publications

Betsy E. Brinson, David Huffman, Matthew M. Shaver, Rebecca U. Cooper, Lisa M. Clough, and Mary A. Farwell (2011) Lactate dehydrogenase and Na+/K+ ATPase activity in Leiostomus xanthurus  (spot) in response to hypoxia. Explorations in press.

Dong D, Feng Y, Jacobs KM, Lu JQ, Brock RS, Yang Lv, Bertrand FE, Farwell MA, and Hu X-H (2011) Label-free classification of cultured cells through diffraction imaging. Biomed Optics Express 2; 1717-1726.

Lindsey N. Fix, Maitri Shah, Thomas Efferth, Mary A. Farwell, and Baohong Zhang (2010) Micro-RNA expression profile of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and the effect of green tea polyphenon-60 Cancer Genomics Proteomics 7(5) 261-277

Donaling Chen, Mary A. Farwell and Baohong Zhang (2010) MicroRNA as a new player in the cell cycle, J. Cell Physiology 225, 296-301.

Mary A. Farwell, C. Russell, D. Ferrell, B. McFadden, and M.H.N. Tabrizi (2010) Agent-based virtual reality (AVR) in science, technology and math education 2010 INTERTECH Proceedings: International Conference on Engineering and Technology Education 1; 119-123.

Jacquelyn M. Long, Charles W. Bell, W. Samuel Fagg IV, Mary E. Kushman, Kevin G. Becker, James A. McCubrey and Mary A. Farwell (2008) Microarray and pathway analysis reveals decreased CDC25A and increased CDC42 associated with slow growth of BCL2 overexpressing immortalized breast cell line, Cell Cycle 7:19; 3062-73.

Baohong Zhang and Mary A. Farwell (2008) microRNAs: a new emerging class of players for disease diagnostics and gene therapy, J. Cell Mol Med 12; 3-21.


Laboratory Personnel


Whitney Crosson