Elizabeth Lawlor, M.D., Ph.D.

Russell G. Adderley Professor of Pediatric Oncology
Associate Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology
Director, Doctoral Program in Cancer Biology


Dr. Lawlor received her M.D. from McMaster University in 1989 and her PhD in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine from the University of British Columbia in 2002. She completed clinical training in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology in Vancouver, Canada and post-doctoral research training in Molecular Oncogenesis at UCSF. She began her independent lab at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles in 2004 and since 2010 has been at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Lawlor’s research is focused on investigating how hijacking of normal stem cell and developmental processes contributes to the initiation and progression of Ewing sarcoma. The central hypothesis underlying her research program is that pediatric cancers depend on dysregulation of genes and pathways that are integral to normal stem cell biology. The overall goal is to discover and define similarities and differences between normal stem cells and cancer cells. To achieve this her lab uses human stem cell models as well as mouse models and tumor cell lines. The current focus is on elucidating mechanisms of Ewing sarcoma metastasis, in particular the role of cellular and epigenetic plasticity. Dr. Lawlor’s lab has been continuously funded by external grant support since 2005, including grants from the NIH/NCI, AACR-Stand Up to Cancer, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the V Foundation, as well as numerous smaller funding agencies.

As a dual-trained MD and PhD physician-scientist, Dr. Lawlor is committed to educating the next generation of basic and translational researchers and is dedicated to both graduate and post-graduate education in the arenas of cancer biology and pediatric oncology. She is the director of the PhD graduate program in Cancer Biology and the Associate Director for Education at the University of Michigan Cancer Center.

Research Interests

Pediatric cancer biology with a focus on Ewing sarcoma and stem cell pathway deregulation


Ryland KE, Svoboda LK, Vesely ED, McIntyre JC, Zhang L, Martens JR, Lawlor ER. Polycomb-Dependent Repression of the Potassium Channel-Encoding Gene KCNA5 Promotes Cancer Cell Survival Under Conditions of Stress. Oncogene. Dec 1, 2014, (epub ahead of print). PMC4451446

Svoboda LK, Harris AP, Bailey N, Schwentner R, Tomazou E, von Levetzow C, Magnuson B, Ljungman M, Kovar K, Lawlor ER. (2014) Over expression of HOX genes is prevalent in Ewing sarcoma and is associated with altered epigenetic regulation of developmental transcription programs. Epigenetics. 9(12):1613-25. PMC-in process

Volchenboum, SL, Andrade J, Huang L, Barkauskas DA, Krailo M, Womer R, Ranft A, Potratz J, Dirksen U, Triche TJ, Lawlor ER. (2015) Gene Expression Profiling of Ewing Sarcoma Tumors Reveals
the Prognostic Importance of Tumor-Stromal Interactions: A Report from the Children’s Oncology Group. Journal of Pathology: Clinical Research. April 2015; 1:83-94. PMC4457396

Lawlor ER & Thiele CJ. (2012) Epigenetic changes in pediatric solid tumors: promising new targets. Clin Cancer Res. 18(10):2768-79. PMID:  22589485; PMC3691809.

Patel N, Black J, Chen X, Marcondes AM, Grady WM, Gius D, Lawlor ER, and Borinstein SC. (2012) DNA Methylation  and Gene Expression Profiling of Ewing Sarcoma Primary Tumors Reveal  Genes that are Potential Targets of Epigenetic Inactivation. Sarcoma  2012;2012:498472. Epub 2012 Sep 12. PMC3447379

Scannell C, Pedersen EA, Mosher JT, Krook MA, Nicholls LA, Wilky BA, Loeb DM, Lawlor ER. (2013) LGR5 is expressed by Ewing sarcoma and potentiates  WNT-Bcatenin signaling. Front Oncol. 3:81. Epub April 15 PMC- 3625903

Shukla N, Schiffman JD, Reed D, Davis IJ, Womer RB, Lessnick SL, Lawlor ER and The COG Ewing Sarcoma Biology Committee (2013) Biomarkers in Ewing  sarcoma: the promise and challenge of personalized medicine. A report  from the Children’s Oncology Group. Front. Oncol. 3:141. Epub June 6. PMC-3674398

Krook MA, Nicholls LA, Scannell CA, Chugh R, Thomas DG, Lawlor ER. (2014) Stress-induced CXCR4 Promotes Migration And Invasion of Ewing Sarcoma. Mol Cancer Res. 2014 Jun;12(6):953-64. PMC4058379