Natalia Ignatenko, PhD

Associate Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine (Research Track)
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-8044 (office) (520) 626-9017 (lab)
(520) 626-4979

Internal Contact Information

Professional Bio: 

Dr. Ignatenko has been a member of the University of Arizona Cancer Center faculty for over 16 years. She has been involved in colorectal cancer (CRC) research with the focus on the molecular mechanisms of detection and development of novel strategies for prevention and treatment of GI cancers.  

Dr. Ignatenko has a broad background in cancer biology with specific training and expertise in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology of polyamines and mouse models of gastrointestinal cancer. Her research is focused on evaluating the effects of genetic and dietary risk factors in colon carcinogenesis using cell culture and animal models.

Dr. Ignatenko's research is focused on molecular mechanisms of detection and prevention of gastrointestinal malignancies. Currently, her laboratory investigates the regulation and pathophysiological functions of kallikrein-related peptidase 6 (KLK6) in colorectal cancer with the focus on cancer cells invasion and metastasis. KLK6 is a secreted serine protease with the specific function to cleave components of the extracellular matrix and activate latent growth factors involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathways. Their recent findings indicate that KLK6 expression in colon cancer cells is determined by the tumor subtype and the genetic mutations developed during the colon cancer progression. KLK6 protein will be useful for imaging purposes and an appropriate target for evaluation as a colon biomarker.

Dr. Ignatenko also has expertise in developing Genetically Engineered Mouse (GEM) models of gastrointestinal cancer and lead Mouse Experimentation Unit of the University of Arizona Cancer Center Experimental Mouse Shared Resource.

Clinical Information


Research Information

Research Program: 
Therapeutic Development
Member Status: 
Research Member
Year of Membership Acceptance: 
Arizona Cancer Center
College of Medicine
Selected Publications: 

Dr. Ignatenko's NCBI bibliography

  1. Padavano J, Henkhaus RS, Chen HW, Skovan BA, Cui H, Ignatenko NA. Mutant K-RAS promotes invasion and metastasis in pancreatic cancer through GTPase signaling pathways. (2015) Cancer Growth and Metastasis 8 (S1):95-113.
  2. Basu Roy U, Henkhaus RS, Loupakis F, Cremoni C, Gerner EW, Ignatenko NA (2013). Caveolin-1 is a novel regulator of K-RAS-dependent migration in carcinogenesis. Int.J.Cancer, 133: 43-57, PMC2244689.
  3. Ignatenko NA, Gerner EW. Get fat out! (2013). Cancer Prev. Res, 3:161-164 PMID 23466814, PMC3595132.
  4. Ignatenko NA, Gerner EW, Besselsen DG. (2011) Defining the role of polyamines in colon carcinogenesis using mouse models. J Carcinogenesis, 10: 10. PMC 21712957.
  5. Paz EA, Garcia-Huidobro J, Ignatenko NA. Polyamines in cancer (2011) Advances in Clinical Chemistry, 54:44-68. PMID 21874756.
  6. Ignatenko NA, Yerushalmi HF, Pandey R, Kachel KL, Stringer DE, Marton LJ, Gerner EW. Gene expression analysis of HCT116 colon tumor-derived cells treated with the polyamine analog PG11047 (2009). Cancer Genomics & Proteomics, 6:161-175. PMC3586261.

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 

2008-present, Assocoate Professor (Research Track), Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine ,  University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
2007-present , Director , Mouse Experimentation Unit,  University of Arizona Cancer Center. Co-Director, Experimental Mouse Shared Resource (EMSR)
2003-2008, Assistant Professor (Research Track), Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy,  University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
1999-2003, Assistant Professor (Research Track), Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona
1992-1999, Postdoc, University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona
1989-1992, Postdoc, Cancer Biology, RE Kavetsky IEPOR, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
1989, Ph.D. Oncology,  RE Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology (IEPOR), National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine (formerly RE Kavetsky Institute of Oncology Problems, Academy of  Science of  the USSR).
1984, MS, Biophysics, Shevchenko Kiev State University, Kiev, Ukraine, USSR