Wendie S. Cohick

Wendie S. Cohick.

Professor and Department Chair
Foran Hall 108
Phone: 848-932-6319
Email: cohick@rutgers.edu


Research in the Cohick laboratory centers on the role of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system in normal mammary gland physiology as well as breast cancer. The IGFs are peptide growth factors that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, survival and migration, processes critical to both normal mammary gland development and lactation as well as breast cancer tumorigenesis. They associate with a family of high affinity binding proteins (IGFBPs) that function to transport the IGFs in the circulation and prolong their half-life. In addition, IGFBPs act at the cellular level to either enhance or inhibit the biological actions of IGFs as well as other agents that affect cell growth and survival. Many of these effects are independent of IGF binding, although the precise mechanisms are not well understood. Currently we are exploring how IGFBP-3 is involved in stress-induced apoptosis, or programmed cell death. We have also expanded our work in the area of apoptosis to determine how the biological toxin ricin mediates cell death in mammalian cells. Using an in vivo rat model, we are studying how environmental insults to the fetus during pregnancy affect lifelong susceptibility to mammary tumorigenesis in the offspring. Specific projects include:

  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms by which IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 regulate growth, differentiation and apoptosis of mammary epithelial cells
  • Understanding how IGF-I and IGFBPs affect stromal-epithelial interactions in the mammary gland.
  • Understanding how fetal alcohol exposure increases breast cancer risk in adult animals.
  • Determining how ricin interacts with the ribosome to inhibit protein synthesis and induce cell death.


Title Location Year
Chair Dept. of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University 2014 - present
Professor Dept. of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University 2011
Associate Professor Dept. of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University 2002
Assistant Professor Dept. of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University 1996
Research Assistant
Department of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology
UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill


Degree Location Year
Postdoc University of North Carolina School of Medicine 1989
Ph.D. Animal Science, Cornell University 1989
M.S. Dairy Nutrition, University of Illinois 1984
B.S. Animal Science, Cornell University 1981

Members of the Cohick Lab

Dr. Amanda Jetzt, Research Associate. (Ph.D. UMDNJ, Post-doc Schering Plough, Oncology)
Hillary Stires, Ph.D. student in Endocrinology and Animal Biosciences
Mariyana Saboya; Ph.D. student in EAB

Current Positions of Former Graduate Students

Students Degree Title Location
Catina Crismale-Gann Ph.D., 2014 Post-doctoral Fellow NYU Medical Center
Dept. Cell Biology
Allyson Agostini-Dreyer Ph.D., 2014 Post-doctoral Fellow Shriners Hospital for Children
Portland OR
Kristie Butler M.S., 2014 Research Scientist Oncobiologics
Cranbury NJ
Tiffany Polanco Ph.D., 2011 Post-doctoral Fellow University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Chao-Ting Wang M.S., 2011 Research Scientist Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Ridgefield, CT
Ju-Shun Cheng M.S., 2011 Research Scientist Ricerca Biosciences LLC
Bothell, WA
Brian Leibowitz Ph.D., 2008 Post-doctoral Fellow University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Jeff Brandimarto Ph.D., 2008 Research Technician University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Jodie Fleming Ph.D., 2006 Assistant Professor North Carolina Central University
Jodie Fleming Ph.D., 2006 Post-doctoral Fellow NIH, Laboratory of Mammary Gland Biology and Tumorigenesis
Usha Sivaprasad Ph.D., 2004 Medical Writer Illuminated Research
Fort Worth TX
Bojing Wang M.S., 2001 Research Scientist Pharmacopia
Princeton NJ
Constance Grill Ph.D. 2000 Sr. National Education Manager, Oncology sanofi-aventis
Bridgewater NJ

Professional Societies

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Assocation for Cancer Research
The Endocrine Society
American Dairy Science Association
American Society of Animal Science
International Society for Insulin-like Growth Factor Research

Other Positions

Member, Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Member, Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences
Member, Graduate Program in Molecular Biosciences
Program Director, Endocrinology and Animal Biosciences Graduate Program, 2007 - 2014
Editorial Board, Endocrinology, 2006 - 2009
Editorial Board, Frontiers in Cancer Research, 2011 - present
Editorial Board, American Jornal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2010 - present


11:126:427 Biotechnology, Methods in Recombinant DNA Technology
11:126:110 Biotechnology, Concepts and Issues in Biotechnology

Representative Publications

Leibowitz BJ, Agostini-Dreyer A, Jetzt AE, Krumm CS, Cohick WS. 2013. IGFBP-3 mediates stress-induced apoptosis in normal mammary epithelial cells. J Cell Physiol 228:734-742.

Jetzt AE, Cheng J-S, Li X-P, Tumer NE, Cohick WS. 2012. A relatively low level of ricin depurination by mutant forms of ricin toxin A chain can trigger protein synthesis inhibition, cell signaling and apoptosis in mammalian cells. Intl J Biochem & Cell Biol 44:2204-2211.

Polanco TA, Crismale-Gann C, Cohick WS. 2011. Exposure to Alcohol In Utero Leads to Enhanced Prepubertal Mammary Development and Alterations in Mammary IGF and Estradiol Systems. Hormones and Cancer Aug;2(4):239-48.

Wang C-T, Jetzt, AE, Cheng J-S, Cohick WS. 2011. Inhibition of the Unfolded Protein Response by Ricin A-Chain Enhances Its Cytotoxicity in Mammalian Cells. Toxins 3(5), 453-468; doi:10.3390/toxins3050453.

Polanco TA, Crismale-Gann C, Reuhl KR, Sarkar DK, Cohick WS. 2010. Fetal alcohol exposure increases mammary tumor susceptibility and alters tumor phenotype in rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Jul 21.34:1879-1887PubMed

Gorelick-Feldman J, Cohick W, Raskin I. 2010. Ecdysteroids elicit a rapid Ca(2+) flux leading to Akt activation and increased protein synthesis in skeletal muscle cells. Steroids 75 (Oct):632-637. PubMed

Jetzt AE, Cheng JS, Tumer NE, Cohick WS. 2009. Ricin A-chain requires c-Jun N-terminal kinase to induce apoptosis in nontransformed epithelial cells. Intl J Biochem Cell Biol 41:2503-2510. PubMed

Leibowitz BJ, Cohick WS. 2009. Endogenous IGFBP-3 is required for both growth factor-stimulated cell proliferation and cytokine-induced apoptosis in mammary epithelial cells. J Cell Physiol 220:182-188.PubMed

Loor JJ, Cohick WS. 2009. ASAS centennial paper: Lactation biology for the twenty-first century. J Anim Sci 87(Feb):813-824. Epub 2008 Sept. 26. PubMed

Fleming JM, Brandimarto JA, Cohick WS 2007 The mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway tonically inhibits both basal and IGF-stimulated IGF binding proten-5 production in mammary epithelial cells. J Endocrinol (June) 194:349-359.

Fleming JM, Desury G, Polanco T, Cohick WS 2006 IGF-I and epidermal growth factor receptors recruit distinct upstream signaling molecules to enhance AKT activation in mammary epithelial cells. Endocrinology 147 (December):6027-6035.

Thorn SR, Purup S, Cohick WS, Vestergaard M, Sejrsen K, Boisclair YR 2006 Leptin does not act directly on mammary epithelial cells in prepubertal dairy heifers. J Dairy Sci. 89 (May):1467-1477.

Fleming JM, Leibowitz BJ, Kerr DE, Cohick WS. 2005 IGF-I differentially regulates IGF binding protein expression in primary mammary fibroblasts and epithelial cells. J Endocrinol 186 (July):165-178.

Sivaprasad U, Fleming J, Verma PS, Hogan KA, Desury G, Cohick WS. 2004 Stimulation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding protein-3 synthesis by IGF-I and transforming growth factor-a is mediated by both phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in mammary epithelial cells. Endocrinology 145:4213-4221.

Cornwell T, Cohick WS, Raskin I. 2004 Dietary phytoestrogens and health. Phytochemistry 65:995-1016.

Grill CJ, Sivaprasad U, Cohick WS. 2002 Constitutive expression of IGF binding protein-3 by mammary epithelial cells alters signaling through akt and p70S6 kinase. J Mol Endocrinol 29:153-162.

Grill CJ, Cohick WS, Sherman A. 2001 Postnatal development of the rat mammary gland is preserved during iron deficiency. J Nutrition 131:1444-1448

Cohick WS
, Wang B, Verma P, Boisclair Y. 2000. Insulin-like growth factor-I and cyclic AMP regulate IGF binding protein-3 gene expression by transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms in mammary epithelial cells. Endocrinology 4583-4591.

Grill CJ, Cohick WS. 2000. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 mediates IGF-I action in a bovine mammary epithelial cell line independent of an IGF interaction. J Cellular Physiology 183:273-283

Cohick WS, Turner JD. 1998 Regulation of IGF binding protein synthesis by a bovine mammary epithelial cell line. J Endocrinol 157:326-336.

Cohick WS. 1998 Role of the insulin-like growth factors and their binding proteins in lactation. J Dairy Sci 81:1769-1777.

Schoknecht PA, McGuire MA, Cohick WS, Currie WB, Bell AW. 1996 Effect of chronic infusion of placental lactogen on ovine fetal growth in late gestation. Dom Anim Endocrinol 13:519- 528.

Cohick WS, Armstrong JD, Whitacre MD, Lucy MC, Harvey RW, Campbell RM. 1996 Ovarian expression of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF binding proteins and growth hormone receptor in heifers actively immunized against growth hormone releasing factor. Endocrinology 137:1670-1677.

Cohick WS, Gockerman A, Clemmons DR. 1995 Regulation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding protein-2 synthesis and degradation by PDGF and the IGFs is enhanced by serum deprivation in vascular smooth muscle cells. J Cell Physiol 64:187-196.

McGuire MA, Bauman DE, Dwyre DA, Cohick WS. 1995 Nutritional modulation of the somatotropin/insulin-like growth factor system: response to feed deprivation in lactating cows. J Nutrition 125:492-502.

Cohick WS, Clemmons DR. 1994 Enhanced expression of dihydrofolate reductase by bovine kidney epithelial cells results in altered cell morphology, IGF-I responsiveness and IGFBP-3 expression. J Cell Physiol 161:178-186.

Stanko RL, Cohick WS, Armstrong JD, Shaw DW, Harvey RW, Clemmons DR, Whitacre MD. 1994 Effect of somatotropin and (or) pregnant mare serum gonadotropin on serum and follicular IGF-I and IGF binding proteins in cattle. Biol Reprod 50:290-300.

Stanko RL, Armstrong JD, Cohick WS, Harvey RW, Simpson RB, Hartnell GF, Heimer EP, Campbell RM. 1994 Effect of daily replacement therapy with recombinant bovine somatotropin on somatotropin, insulin-like growth factor I, and onset of puberty in beef heifers immunized against growth hormone-releasing factor. J Anim Sci 72:1786-1795.

Cohick WS, Gockerman A, Clemmons DR. 1993 Vascular smooth muscle cells synthesize two forms of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins which are regulated differently by the IGFs. J Cell Physiol 157:52-60.

Armstrong JD, Cohick WS, Harvey RW, Heimer EP, Campbell RM. 1993 Effect of feed restriction on serum somatotropin, IGF-I and IGF binding proteins in cyclic heifers actively immunized against growth hormone releasing factor. Domest Anim Endocrinol 10:315-324.

Cohick WS, Clemmons DR. 1993 The insulin-like growth factors. Annu Rev Physiol 55:131- 153.

Cohick WS, Clemmons DR. 1993 Regulation of IGFBP secretion and modulation of cell growth in MDBK cells. Growth Regulation 3:20-23.

Armstrong JD, Stanko RL, Cohick WS, Simpson RB, Harvey RW, Huff BG, Clemmons DR, Whitacre MD, Campbell RM, Heimer EP. 1992 Endocrine events prior to puberty in heifers: role of somatotropin, insulin-like growth factor-I, and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins. J Physiol and Pharmacol 43:179-193.

Cohick WS, McGuire MA, Clemmons DR, Bauman DE. Regulation of IGF binding proteins in serum and lymph of lactating cows by somatotropin. 1992 Endocrinology 130:1508-1514.

McCusker RH, Cohick WS, Busby WH, Clemmons DR. 1991Evaluation of the developmental and nutritional changes in porcine IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 serum levels by immunoassay. Endocrinology 129:2631-2638.

Cohick WS, Clemmons DR. 1991 Regulation of insulin-like growth factor binding protein synthesis and secretion in a bovine epithelial cell line. Endocrinology 129:1347-1354.

Plaut, K, Cohick WS, Bauman DE, Baxter RC. 1991 Evaluation of interference by insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) binding proteins in a radioimmunoassay for IGF-I in serum from dairy cows. Domest Anim Endocrinol 8:395-407.

Crooker, BA, McGuire MA, Cohick WS, Harkins M, Bauman DE, Sejrsen K. 1990 Effect of dose of bovine somatotropin on nutrient utilization in growing dairy heifers. J Nutrition 120:1256-1263.

Cohick WS, Plaut K, Sechen SJ, Bauman DE. 1989 Temporal pattern of insulin-like growth factor-I response to exogenous bovine somatotropin in lactating cows. Domest Anim Endocrinol 6:263-274.

Vicini JL, Cohick WS, Clark JH, McCutcheon SN, Bauman DE. 1988 Effects of feed intake and sodium bicarbonate on milk production and concentrations of hormones and metabolites in plasma of cows. J Dairy Sci 71:1232-1238.

Slepetis R, Cohick WS, Bauman DE, Hackett R. 1987 Surgical cannulation of a hepatic vein in dairy cows utilizing diagnostic ultrasound. J Dairy Sci 70:571-575.

Cohick WS, Vicini JL, Staples CR, Clark JH, McCutcheon SN, Bauman DE. 1986 Effects of intake and postruminal casein infusion on performance and concentrations of hormones in plasma of lactating cows. J Dairy Sci 69:3022-3031.