Samuel Kerk

Samuel Kerk

Graduate Student


Sam obtained his bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Calvin College in 2014. He worked as a research technician before joining the doctoral program in Cancer Biology in 2017. Now, he conducts research in the laboratory of Dr. Costas Lyssiotis studying how metabolism is deregulated in pancreatic cancer. Sam's hobbies include running, brewing coffee, getting frustrated on the golf course, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Research Interests

Deregulated metabolism is a hallmark of cancer. Normal metabolic pathways are rewired in tumors to provide the energy and nutrients needed to support sustained malignant proliferation. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most lethal cancers with a 5-year survival rate near 8%. This rate has remained relatively unchanged for decades and new treatments are urgently needed. A promising therapeutic approach is to perturb the metabolic pathways necessary for tumor growth and survival. PDA tumors are characteristically poorly vascularized with a dense stromal compartment, resulting in a hypoxic, nutrient-depleted tumor microenvironment. Our lab seeks to gain a basic understanding of the unique metabolic dependencies that enable PDA tumors to thrive in an austere environment and how these addictions can be exploited with metabolism-targeted therapies.


Cell-based assays, Western blotting, RT-qPCR, GEMMs, metabolomics, isotope labelling flux analyses


Excellence in Basic Science Award (2019)