Esther Penni Black

Contact Information

343 Bio Pharm Complex
789 South Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40536-0596

Phone: 859-323-5898

Fax: 859-257-7564

Contact by email


  • Associate Professor
    Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences


Esther Penni Black, Ph.D.

Dr. Black received a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in Biomedical Sciences. Her thesis focused on transcriptional regulation in vaccinia virus. Dr. Black completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Joseph Nevins at Duke University. While at Duke, she initiated experiments to examine oncogenic signaling pathways using both biochemical and genomics tools.

Research Interests
Dr. Black's lab focuses on understanding oncogenic signaling cascades in both human and mouse systems. Our lab uses genomics and bioinformatics tools trained to predict deregulation of signaling cascades in non-small cell lung cancers and potentially other cancers. DNA microarray technology, when combined with bioinformatics, has proven valuable in dissecting the complexity of the oncogenic process. We hope to utilize these technologies to understand basic biological questions as well as to improve patient care in targeting therapies to the molecular events deregulated in specific patient populations. The data from microarray experiments will also lead to opportunities for drug discovery and design efforts as we uncover molecular effectors of deregulated signaling cascades common to many types of cancers.

We recently developed a gene expression predictor of sensitivity to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). We will soon validate the usefulness of that predictor in a pilot clinical study.

Using the microarray data we have generated to isolate the MAPK, PI3K/AKT and STAT3 signaling cascades in lung epithelial cells, we are both building predictive gene expression signatures of each event and using the gene expression data as a descriptive phenotype of each cascade. Specific effector molecules common to these signaling pathways are being investigated in cell culture systems with hopes of identifying molecules that may be targeted by inhibitory compounds as novel therapeutics for non-small cell lung cancer.

Finally, we will use gene expression signatures of pathway activation and other biomarkers of sensitivity to chemotherapeutic treatments to build a decision tree for individualized treatment of patients with recurrent or relapsed non-small cell lung cancer.

Selected Publications/Presentations

  • Garces, H. and E.P. Black. 2015. Corporate communication strategies are applicable for teaching non-science communication skills to Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. students. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. 7:2.
  • Massarweh, S., Moss, J., Wang, C., Romond, E., Slone, S., Weiss, H., Karabakhtsian, R., Napier, D., and E.P. Black. 2014. Impact of adding the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib to existing endocrine therapy in metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Future Oncology. May 15:1-14. PMID: 24826798.
  • Massarweh, S., Romond, E., Black, E.P., Van Meter, E., Shelton, B.J.,  Kadamyan-Melkumian, V., Stevens, M.E., and R. Elledge. 2014. A phase II study of combined fulvestrant and everolimus in patients with metastatic estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer after aromatase inhibitor (AI) failure. Breast Cancer Res Treat. PMID: 24327334.
  • E.P. Black. Impact of gene expression signatures on cancer drug discovery. Invited Review. 2013. European Pharmaceutical Review. Feb 2013 (1): 8-12
  • Oh, Y-T., Yue, P., Zhou, W., Balko, J.M., Black, E.P., Owunikoko, T.K., Khuri, F.R., and S-Y Sun. 2012. Positive regulation of death receptor 5 by oncogenic Ras and B-Raf and underlying mechanisms. J Biol Chem. Jan 2;287(1):257-67. PMID: 22065586.
  • Bryant, J.L., Britson, J., Balko, J.M., Willian, M., Timmons, R., Frolov, A., and E.P. Black. 2012. A microRNA gene expression signature predicts response to erlotinib in epithelial cancer cell lines and targets EMT. Brit J Cancer. Jan 3;106(1):148-56. PMID: 22045191.
  • Black, E.P., Policastri, A., Garces, H., Gokun, Y., and F. Romanelli. 2012. A pilot common reading experience (CRE) to integrate basic and clinical sciences education. Am J Pharm Educ. 76(3): x.
  • Balko, J.M. and E.P. Black. 2011. Invited commentary: Do the genes tell us the path of most resistance?. Cancer Biology and Therapy. 11(2) 1-3. PMID: 2126321.
  • Balko, A., Black, E.P., and J.M Balko. 2010. Invited commentary. First-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer: focus on cetuximab in combination with chemotherapy. Clinical Medicine Reviews in Oncology. 2010(2).
  • Balko, J.M. and E.P. Black. 2009. A gene expression predictor of response to erlotinib in lung cancer also predicts response and stratifies progression-free survival to cetuximab in KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer. BMC Cancer. 9:145.
  • Al-Ghananeem, A.M., Malkawi, A.H., Muammer, Y.M., Balko, J.M., Black, E.P. , Mouras, W., and E. Romond. 2009. Intratumoral delivery of paclitaxel in solid tumor from biodegradable hyaluronan nanoparticle formulations. AAPS PharmSci Tech Journal. 21 April.
  • Cain, J., Black, E.P. , and J. Rohr. 2009. An audience response system strategy to improve student motivation, attention, and feedback in a physiological chemistry/molecular biology course. Am J Pharm Educ.
  • Balko, J.M., Jones, B.R., Coakley, V., and E.P. Black. 2009. MEK and EGFR inhibition demonstrates synergistic activity in EGFR-dependent non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer Biology and Therapy. Apr; 8(6).
  • Balko, J.M. and E.P. Black. 2009. Ovarian carcinoma as a surrogate tumor for lung adenocarcinomas in evaluating the chemo-stability of a gene expression signature. Cancer Biology and Therapy. Feb 4;8(2).
  • Balko, J.M., Saunders, C., Stromberg, A., Haura, E.B., and E.P. Black. Gene expression patterns that predict sensitivity to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in lung cancer cell lines: implications for prediction of sensitivity in human lung tumors. BMC Genomics. 10 November 2006.
  • Hartman, Z., Black, E.P., and A. Amalfitano. 2006. Microarray analysis reveals potent and complex innate cellular immune response to adenoviral infection. Virology. 4 Oct 2006.
  • Wang, Q., Seo, D., Koontz, J., Pittman, J., Yao, G., Dobra, A., Black, E.P., Chang, J., Huang, E., West, M., Nevins, J.R. and H.K. Dressman. Tools that integrate supervised and unsupervised methods for gene expression analysis. In Review. BMC Bioinformatics.
  • Black, E.P., Hallstrom, T., Dressman, H.K., West, M. and J.R.Nevins. 2005. Gene expression patterns that reflect the molecular basis for specificity of E2F function. PNAS. 102(44): 15948-53.
  • Delong, M., Yao, G., Wang, Q., Dobra, A., Black, E.P., Chang, J.T., Bild, A., West, M., Nevins, J.R., and H. Dressman. 2005. DIG - A system for gene annotation and functional discovery. Bioinformatics 21(13):2957-9.
  • Huang, E.S., Black, E.P., Dressman, H., West, M. and J.R. Nevins. 2003. Gene expression phenotypes of oncogenic signaling pathways. Cell Cycle 2(5):415-417.
  • Black, E.P., E. Huang., H. Dressman., R. Rempel, N. Laakso, S. Asa, S. Ishida, M. West, and J.R. Nevins. 2003. Distinct gene expression phenotypes of cells lacking Rb and Rb-family members. Cancer Research. 63: 3716-3723.


page last modified: April 15 2015     

© University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Official Site of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy