Sarah Lacher, PhD

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Sarah Lacher

Contact Info

Office Phone (218) 726-8879

Office Address:
SMed 221

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Post-Doctoral Associate, University of Minnesota

PhD, Toxicology, University of Montana

BS, Biology, Secondary Education, University of Northern Colorado


Sarah E. Lacher, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a member of the Cellular Mechanisms of Cancer Program at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. Dr. Lacher’s research focuses on characterizing cell-type specific patterns of gene regulation following exposure to various inducers of oxidative stress. Dr. Lacher is also involved in STEM outreach activities through the University of Minnesota's Innovators of the Future, Bois Forte Community Based Science and QueerScience Programs. Dr. Lacher received her BS in Biology with an emphasis in Secondary Education from University of Northern Colorado (2006). She then taught Secondary Science in Colorado before attending graduate school. Dr. Lacher earned a PhD in Toxicology from the University of Montana (2013), and was a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Minnesota Medical School (2013–2018). Dr. Lacher is a member of the Society of Toxicology, and is a Founding Executive Board Member of the newly established Special Interest Group, Out Toxicologists and Allies (OTA). She is also a member of Women in Toxicology (WIT), Hispanic Organization of Toxicologists (HOT) and the Northland Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology.


Toxicology, Cell Biology, Genetics, and STEM Outreach

Professional Associations

Society of Toxicology, 2006-Present

Northwoods Women In Science, 2019-Present


Research Summary/Interests

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are the byproducts of oxygen metabolism and are necessary molecules for cell signaling, homeostasis, and development. However, the balance between cellular oxygen and damaging ROS levels needs to be finely tuned; disruption in redox homeostasis often leads to cytotoxicity and can ultimately result in irregularities in development and pathology. Fortunately, cells have evolved mechanisms that allow them to directly combat disruptions in oxygen homeostasis and keep ROS levels tightly balanced to mitigate such effects. Cells rely heavily on the activity of transcription factors (TFs) in order to execute global gene expression changes. When it comes to oxygen sensing, one of the most important TFs is NRF2 (Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2). Recently, we have come to better understand the ancient mechanism of global gene regulation by NRF2 in response to oxidative stress; in addition, we have also recently identified and functionally validated a number of novel NRF2 target genes. However, our current understanding of NRF2’s capability at selectively controlling antioxidant genes needs to be greatly extended in order to understand its global control of a multitude of mechanisms central to the cell’s response to oxidative stress.

Research Funding Grants

Whiteside Institute for Clinical Research. University of Minnesota, “Dissecting the Impact of Decreased HIF1a on Global Gene Expression, Cancer Cell Migration and Cancer Patient Outcome”, December 2021

Academic Investment Research Program. University of Minnesota, “In Situ Dissection of NRF2-mediated HIF1A Expression Under Physiological O2 Tensions”, September 2020


  • Sade Spencer, Catherine Burrows, Sarah E. Lacher, Kait Macheledt, Jerica M. Berge , Rahel G. Ghebre, Framework for advancing equity in academic medicine and science: Perspectives from early career female faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic: Preventive Medicine Reports. 24; 101576, 2021
  • Daniel C.Levings*, Sarah E.Lacher*, Juan Palacios-Moreno, Matthew Slattery, Transcriptional reprogramming by oxidative stress occurs within a predefined chromatin accessibility landscape, (*) - indicates co-first author): Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 171: Pages 319-331, 2021
  • Daniel C. Levings, Kirsten E. Shaw, Sarah E. Lacher, Genomic Resources for Dissecting the Role of Non-Protein Coding Variation in Gene Environment Interactions: Toxicology, 441, 2020 
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Daniel C. Levings, Samuel Freeman, Matthew Slattery, Identification of a Functional Antioxidant Response Element at the HIF1A Locus: Redox Biology, 19: 401-411, 2018
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Xuting Wang, Douglas A Bell, Roger Pique-Regi, Francesca Luca, Matthew Slattery, A Hypermorphic Stress-responsive cis-regulatory Element is Associated with Increased MS4A6A Expression and Alzheimer’s disease; Redox Biology, 14: 686-693, 2018
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Matthew Slattery. Gene Regulatory Effects of Disease Associated Variation in the NRF2 Network. Current Opinion in Toxicology, 1: 71-79, 2016
  • Xuting Wang, Michelle R. Campbell, Sarah E. Lacher, Hye-Youn Cho, Ma Wan, Christopher Crowl, Brian N. Chorley, Gareth L. Bond, Steve R. Kleeberger, Matthew Slattery, Douglas Bell. A Strong Nrf2 Binding Allele in the MAPT Gene Enhances Expression and is Protective in Parkinsonian Disorders. Cell Reports; 15: 4, 830-842, 2016
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Joslynn S. Lee, Xuting Wang, Michelle Campbell, Douglas Bell, Matthew Slattery. Beyond Antioxidant Genes in the Ancient Nrf2 Regulatory Network. Free Radical Biology and Medicine; Special Issue: Nrf2 Regulated Redox Signaling and Metabolism in Physiology and Medicine; 88: B, 452-465, 2015.
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Kasse Skagen, Joachim Veit, Rachel Dalton, Erica L. Woodahl. P-glycoprotein Transport of Neurotoxic Pesticides. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; 355: 99-107, 2015
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Julia N. Gremaud, Kasse Skagen, Emily Steed, Rachel Dalton, Kent D. Sugden, Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez, Catherine M.T. Sherwin, Erica L. Woodahl. Absence of P-glycoprotein Transport in the Pharmacokinetics and Toxicity of Herbicide Paraquat. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; 348(2): 336-345, 2014.
  • Sarah E. Lacher, Corbin Johnson, Forrest Jessop, Andrij Holian, Christopher T. Migliaccio. Murine Pulmonary Inflammation Model: A comparative Study of Anesthesia and Instillation Methods. Inhalation Toxicology; 22(1): 77–8, 2010


Teaching Areas

Problem Based Learning Facilitator: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal, Acid-Base-I & II, Immunology, Hematology, and Oncology, Skin and Musculoskeletal, and Neurological Medicine Courses.

Lecturer: Foundations of Medicine, Social and Behavioral Medicine, Hormonal and Reproductive Medicine, Current Topics in Functional Genomics, and Introduction to Pharmacology. 

Mentoring/Advising: Undergraduates, Graduate students, and Postdoctoral Associates