Associate Provost Karen Houseknecht named a Fulbright Scholar

Portrait of Karen Houseknecht smiling against trees
Karen L. Houseknecht, Ph.D., associate provost for Research and Scholarship

The University of New England is proud to announce that Karen L. Houseknecht, Ph.D., associate provost for Research and Scholarship and professor of pharmacology within the College of Osteopathic Medicine, will spend part of the 2022-2023 academic year in Spain as a Fulbright Senior Scholar.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program, created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Houseknecht will serve as a professor-in-residence at the Department of Pharmacology within the College of Medicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM; Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) from February to May 2023. While there, she will be engaged in teaching pharmacology with host Manuela Garcia Lopez, M.D., Ph.D., director of UAM’s Teofilo Hernando Institute for Drug Discovery — as well as research and collaboration with additional faculty — on her proposal “Integrating Mechanisms Regulating Metabolism and Dementia: A Transdisciplinary Approach.”

Houseknecht is a pharmacologist whose research lies at the interface of neuroscience and endocrinology, focusing on understanding factors that regulate mood and metabolism, including diabetes. The long-term goal of her research is to aid in the discovery of novel therapeutics with a focus on improved quality of life and patient safety. A first-generation college student turned prominent biomedical researcher, Houseknecht received her Ph.D. from Cornell University and completed post-doctoral training as an Endocrine Fellow at the Beth Israel Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

“Becoming a Fulbright Scholar has been a life-long dream, and I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to represent the United States, and the University of New England, as a Fulbright Scholar,” Houseknecht reflected. “As a diabetes researcher, I am thrilled to be able to collaborate with Dr. Manuela Lopez, her colleagues and students, and renowned experts in the field of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. As patients with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing dementia, I am eager to collaborate across disciplines to help address the growing public health crises of diabetes and dementia.”

As associate provost for Research and Scholarship at UNE, Houseknecht serves as the chief science officer and the research integrity officer for the University. She has scientific and executive leadership experience in both academic and corporate research settings, including roles as vice president of Global Research at ASDI, Inc. and as associate research fellow of diabetes drug discovery within the Division of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases at Pfizer Global Research and Development.

“Research activity at UNE has flourished under Dr. Houseknecht’s leadership, and her designation as a Fulbright Scholar is a reflection of the tremendous efforts she has made to elevate UNE’s status as a world-class research university,” remarked UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D. “I am proud of Dr. Houseknecht’s accomplishments, and we are fortunate to benefit from her expertise.”

Since its establishment by Congress in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given over 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists, and teachers. They include 61 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 76 MacArthur Fellows, and thousands of leaders across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. The program is active in more than 160 countries and partners with governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations.