Sarah Lacher

Assistant Professor


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. In addition to her commitment to research, Dr. Lacher is a dedicated educator. She is leading the Pharmacology Thread in the new bi-campus curriculum build, and in 2022 Dr. Lacher was Awarded the Basic Science Teacher of the Year by the Medical Students. 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.


  • 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

Other Publications

Research Summary

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.

Teaching Summary

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

Teaching Awards
Basic Science Teacher of the Year- 2021/2022


PhD, University of Montana
Major: Toxicology
BS, University of Northern Colorado
Major: Biology
Minor: Emphasis in Secondary Education

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

Postdoctoral Associate, Fellowship
University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth Campus
Graduate Student, Other
University of Montana
Undergraduate Research, Other
University of Northern Colorado

Honors and Recognition

Basic Science Teacher of the Year, First Year Medical Students, UMN Medical School, Duluth Campus
Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award, Molecular and Systems Biology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology
Postdoctoral Travel Award to Attend the Society of Toxicology 55nd Annual Meeting, Northland Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology
Best Presentation, Northland Chapter of the Society of Toxicology Regional Meeting
Best Presentation, 12th Annual Graduate and Faculty Symposium, University of Montana
Student Travel Award to Attend the Society of Toxicology 52nd Annual Meeting, Academic Enrichment Funding, University of Montana
Student Travel Award, International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics 18th North American Regional Meeting
Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education
Student Travel Award to Attend the Society of Toxicology 50th Annual Meeting, Academic Enrichment Funding, University of Montana
American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences Education Initiative
Program Scholar, School of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
Departmental Scholar, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado

Professional Memberships

Northwoods Women in Science
Society of Toxicology
Grants and Patents

Grants and Patents

Selected Grants

Other Grants

Award: “Using Functional Genomics to Dissect Wildfire Smoke-Induced Pulmonary Disease”
Principal Investigator:
Sponsoring Organization: American Lung Association, Catalyst Award
Award Dates: 2022 - 2024