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Lisa M. Harlan-Williams, PhD

Lisa Harlan-Williams portrait
Associate Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology

Professional Background

Dr. Harlan-Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is also the Assistant Director for Administration and Education for the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Dr. Harlan-Williams received her BS in Biology from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR. She earned her PhD in Molecular Genetics under the guidance of Stephen Benedict, PhD in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Her research interests focus on the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA)1 and its role in cellular metabolism.

Dr. Harlan-Williams is the director of the KU Cancer Center Accelerate Cancer Education summer research program for high school students. Dr. Harlan-Williams is passionate about her interactions with many different learners and specifically loves to engage with high school students as they consider pursing oncology related careers. For the Cancer Center, she also coordinates all activities related to the P30 Cancer Center Support Grant.

Dr. Harlan-Williams is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Association for Cancer Education.

Education and Training
  • BS, Biology, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR, Arkdelphia, AR
  • PhD, Molecular Genetics, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, Lawrence, KS
  • Other, Maintenance of the microenvironment affecting CD8+ T cell cytolytic activity and life span, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, Tampa, FL
  • Other, Identification and characterization of small molecules that increase BRCA1 gene expression, University of Kansas Cancer Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
Professional Affiliations
  • American Association for Cancer Education, Member, 2018 - Present
  • American Association for Cancer Research, Member, 2007 - Present



Dr. Harlan-Williams is involved in basic science research related to understanding the role of BRCA1 in cellular metabolism and breast cancer. Her long-term research goal is to delineate the mechanism(s) by which BRCA1 regulates the metabolic switch that ultimately influences tumorigenesis. She utilizes both in vitro and in vivo models in her studies so that her discoveries may ultimately translate to patients.