Dr. Liz Wellberg’s work is focused on the “vicious cycle” surrounding obesity and estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are risk factors for postmenopausal ER+ breast cancer, which is diagnosed in more than 150,000 women per year. Dr. Wellberg studies the ways through which obesity can promote relapse of breast cancer and endocrine therapy failure. She also studies the metabolic effects of estrogen deprivation that occurs with endocrine (anti-estrogen) therapy, including insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the liver. Her overall research goals focus on 1) identifying drivers of breast cancer therapy resistance in the context of obesity and 2) determining how endocrine therapy affects skeletal muscle, fat, and the liver. Dr. Wellberg also aims to identify the patient population at risk for adverse effects from endocrine therapy and implement appropriate ways to monitor and intervene to prevent breast cancer relapse.
Dr. Wellberg credits the Ludeman Family Center for Women's Health Research seed grant program as the first investment in her independent research career. Support from the Ludeman Center helped her obtain two large career development awards and establish her career as an independent investigator.