University of New England appoints Karen Houseknecht to lead the Office of Research and Scholarship

Karen Houseknecht

The University of New England has appointed Karen Houseknecht, Ph.D., as the associate provost for Research and Scholarship. In this role, Houseknecht will lead research strategy and research compliance efforts across all academic programs at UNE. Houseknecht has served as the interim dean for the UNE College of Pharmacy since June 2017 and also serves as professor of pharmacology in the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

“Dr. Houseknecht has worked in diverse research environments over the course of her career and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position,” said UNE President James Herbert. “I look forward to her leadership in shaping and advancing the role of research and scholarship at UNE.”

Prior to joining UNE in 2009 as a founding faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, Houseknecht spent her career in research intensive environments, both academic and corporate, including serving as associate research fellow at Pfizer Global Research and Development in Groton, Connecticut; visiting professor of clinical physiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden; and assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Purdue University. In those positions, she led interdisciplinary research teams, managed the creation and launch of a start-up analytical chemistry division, and built a track record of publication and extramural funding. 

Houseknecht’s research is in the area of mechanistic pharmacology with specific focus in obesity and diabetes endocrinology and pathophysiology. Her work is devoted to her unwavering passion around the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and mood disorders, with a specific focus on patient safety. Houseknecht’s NIH-funded research program lies at the interface of neuroscience and endocrinology and focuses on the pharmacology underlying mechanisms of efficacy and safety, with specific focus on medication-induced dysregulation of energy metabolism. Her work is internationally recognized; she is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed publications; and she serves as a reviewer for myriad journals and NIH study sections.

Since joining UNE, Houseknecht has embraced the challenges of building a new research program from the ground up and conducts research with undergraduate, medical and pharmacy students in laboratories on both the Portland and Biddeford campuses. In addition, Houseknecht has built important and productive collaborations with colleagues at other institutions including Maine Medical Center Research Institute and plays several roles in its new NIH-funded Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program project including faculty mentor, research collaborator and advisory board member. 

Houseknecht earned her B.S. in Animal Sciences from Virginia Tech, M.S. in Animal Nutrition from University of Georgia and Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from Cornell University. She received post-doctoral training as an endocrinology fellow at Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Throughout her career, Houseknecht has been an advocate for women in science and has served on the National Board of Directors for the Association of Women in Science (AWIS). Her advocacy and service have been recognized with multiple awards including the Outstanding Alumni Award from Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her scientific achievements and leadership.  

The University of New England has a vibrant research culture, giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the lab at every level of their education. Our faculty study topic areas such as pain and sensory performance, geriatrics, marine sciences, human performance, concussion, homelessness, mental health, environmental sustainability, pedagogical research and clinical research. This work takes place across a range of centers and institutes as well as faculty-led laboratories throughout UNE’s campuses. 

Read the news in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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