Karen L. Houseknecht

Dr. Houseknecht's career, which has spanned academic and corporate research envirnonments, has focused on her unwavering passion around the discovery and development of novel therapeutics, including pharmaceutical, biologic and nutritional therapies for the treatment of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.  

Dr. Houseknecht's current research is focused on 1) identifying mechanisms underlying endocrine and metabolic side effects of antipsychotic medications and the implications of off-label prescribing of these medications to vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly; 2) new therapeutic/drug discovery and development; and 3) determining the pharmacology and drug metabolism properties of emerging drugs of abuse, including the street drug known as "bath salts".

Prior to joining UNE, Karen served as Vice President of Global Research and Development at ASDI, Inc., a multinational company providing products and services for clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech, academic and NGO research sectors. At ASDI, Karen was the chief scientist and was responsible for developing and executing the global scientific strategy for the company as well as managing the global chemistry, analytical, and DMPK disciplines.  She also led efforts devoted to building and managing scientific business partnerships in the academic and NGO research partners.

Prior to her role at ASDI, Karen led drug discovery research teams at Pfizer, Inc., most recently serving as Associate Research Fellow, Diabetes Drug Discovery, Division of Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases. Karen is the author of over 40 scientific publications and patents and has also served as Assistant professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism, at Purdue University and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, Indiana University Medical School.  In 1998, Karen served as Honorary Visiting Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1994, Karen accepted a position as Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston. There KarenÕs research focused on elucidating the mechanisms of insulin action using transgenic mouse technology to better understand the pathology of diabetes and obesity. Karen was also involved in some of the first research on the newly discovered obesity hormone, leptin. While at Harvard, Karen received a research fellowship grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support her diabetes research.

Throughout her career, Karen has been an advocate for women in science and has served as a scientific mentor both in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. She is the recipient of the 2005 Power of Women Award for her work supporting educational and leadership opportunities for women and girls. In 2006, Karen was awarded the Women of Innovation Award for Large Business Innovation and Leadership by the CT Technology Council and was elected to the National Board of Directors for the Association of Women in Science (AWIS).  Karen was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Alumni Award from Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for her scientific achievements, leadership in the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy for women and girls, and support of Cornell's mission. Most recently, Karen was recognized by the Connecticut WomenÕs Hall of Fame as one of the best of "A New Century of Women in Science".

Karen's commitment and passion for advocacy for women and children, worldwide, is exemplified by her work as state educational equity chairperson for the CT chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and by her support of educational, healthcare and financial aid for women and children both locally and in Guatemala. Most recently, Karen, through her work at ASDI, Inc. has extended her work to include partnering with international



University of Georgia



Cornell University



Virginia Tech


Post-Doctoral Training

Endocrine Research Fellow, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School





Diabetes and Metabolic Disease

Psychiatric Drug Pharmacology and Toxicology

GPCR signaling


Drug discovery

development and regulatory

Medication induced disease



Current Research

Dr Houseknecht's research program lies at the interface of neuroscience and endocrinology/metabolism. Whether studying drugs of abuse or atypical anti-psychotic medications (SGAs), her research focuses on the pharmacology underlying mechanisms of action and mechanisms of adverse events (safety), particularly central nervous system regulation of whole-body energy metabolism (including diabetes). Dr Houseknecht's work also specifically focuses on novel therapeutic discovery, leading pharmacology and drug metabolism efforts to enhance drug target identification/validation and lead development

Research Interests

Dr. Houseknecht's research interests focus on the discovery of novel therapeutics for the treatment of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome

Selected Publications

Karen Houseknecht

Karen L. Houseknecht


B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology

Biddeford Campus

Stella Maris


(207) 602-2872

On Campus