Heidi Woelbern, Ph.D.

  • Part-Time Faculty
  • Biology and Chemistry Departments


  • B.A., Religious Studies, Westmont College
  • B.S., Chemistry, Westmont College,
  • Ph.D., Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Post-Doctoral: University of California, Los Angeles


Dr. Woelbern earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and a B.S. in Chemistry from Westmont College in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California Los Angeles in 2001.   She worked in the biotechnology industry for six years at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, and ultimately joined the Biology department at PLNU in 2008. 

Dr. Woelbern has been married to Matthew Woelbern since 2001 and they have three children: Ethan, Anna and Elijah.


Dr. Woelbern is primarily responsible for teaching Biotechnology and Society (BIO104).  She has also taught Cell Biology and Biochemistry (BIO210), Genetics (BIO 345) and Perspectives on Science (BIO692).  Additionally Dr. Woelbern has taught numerous lab courses: Ecological and Evolutionary Systems (BIO211), Developmental Biology (BIO400), Introduction to General Organic and Biological Chemistry (CHE103) and General Chemistry (CHE152).


As a molecular biologist, Dr. Woelbern’s research has focused on the role of nuclear receptors, a subclass of transcription factors, in regulating various metabolic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, lipoprotein metabolism) as well as cancer. 


  1. Shih, D.M., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Wong, J., Xia, Y.R., Edwards, P.A. and Lusis, A.J.  (2006)  A role for FXR and human FGF-19 in the repression of paraoxonase-1 gene expression by bile acids.  J. Lipid Res. 47: 384-92.

  2. Lee, F.Y., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Chang, J., Luo, G., Jones, S.A., Fishbein, M.C., and Edwards P.A.  (2005) Alpha-crystallin is a target gene for the farnesoid X-activated receptor in human livers.  J. Biol. Chem. 280: 31792-31800.

  3. Anisfeld A.M., Kast-Woelbern H.R., Lee H., Zhang Y., Lee F.Y., and Edwards P.A. (2005)  Activation of the nuclear receptor FXR induces fibrinogen expression: a new role for bile acid signaling. J. Lipid Res. 46:458-468. 

  4. Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Dana, S.L., Cesario, R.M., Sun L., de Grandpre, L.Y., Brooks, M.E.,  Osburn, D.L., Reifel-Miller, A., Klausing, K., and Leibowitz, M.D. (2004) Rosiglitazone induction of INSIG-1 in white adipose tissue reveals a novel interplay of PPARγ  and SREBP in the regulation of adipogenesis.  J. Biol. Chem. 279: 23908-23915.

  5. Anisfeld, A.M., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Meyer, M.E., Jones, S.A., Zhang, Y., Williams, K.J., Willson, T., Edwards, P.A.  (2003)  Syndecan-1 expression is regulated in an isoform specific manner by the farnesoid X receptor.  J. Biol. Chem. 278: 20420-20428. 

  6. Downes, M., Verdecia, M., Roecker, A.J., Hughes, R., Hogenesch, J.B., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Bowman, M.E., Ferrer, J.L., Anisfeld, A.M., Edwards, P.A., Rosenfeld, J.M., Alvarez, J.G.A., Noel, J.P., Nicolaou, K.C., Evans, R.M.  (2003) A chemical and structural analysis of the nuclear bile acid receptor FXR.  Molec. Cell  11:1079-1092. 

  7. Zhang, Y., Kast-Woelbern, H.R. and Edwards, P.A.  (2003)  Natural structural variants of the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor affect transcriptional activation.  J. Biol. Chem. 278: 104-10.

  8. Mak, P.A., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., Anisfeld, A.M., and Edwards, P.A.  (2002)  Identification of PLTP as an LXR target gene and apoE as an FXR target gene reveals overlapping targets for the two nuclear receptors.  J. Lipid Res. 43: 2037-41.

  9. Edwards, P.A., Kast-Woelbern, H.R., and Kennedy, M.A. (2002)  Cholesterol signaling.   Handbook of Cell Signaling (eds. R. Bradshaw and E. Dennis) Volume 2.  Pg 287-290.

  10. Edwards, P.A., Kast, H.R., and Anisfeld, A.M.  (2002)  BAREing it all: the adoption of LXR and FXR and their roles in lipid homeostasis.  J. Lipid Res.  43: 2-12. 

  11. Kast, H.R., Goodwin, B., Tarr, P.T., Jones, S.A., Anisfeld, A.M., Stoltz, C. M., Tontonoz, P., Kliewer, S., Willson, T.M., and Edwards, P.A.  (2002) Regulation of multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (ABCC2) by the nuclear receptors pregnane X receptor, farnesoid X-activated receptor, and constitutive androstane receptor.  J. Biol. Chem. 277: 2908-2915.   

  12. Kast, H.R., Nguyen, C. M., Sinal, C. J., Laffitte, B.A., Reue, K., Jones, S.A., Gonzalez, F.J., Willson, T.M., and Edwards, P.A. (2001) Activated FXR induces apoC-II transcription: a molecular mechanism linking plasma triglyceride levels to bile acids.  Mol Endo. 15 (10): 1720-1728. 

  13. Kast, H.R., Nguyen, C.M., Ericsson, J., and Edwards, P.A.  (2001)  CTP:phosphocholine Cytidylyltransferase; a new sterol- and SREBP- responsive gene controlling phospholipid biosynthesis.  J. Lipid Res.  42:1266-1272.

  14. Laffitte, B.A., Repa, J.J., Joseph, S.B., Wilpitz, D.C., Kast, H.R., Mangelsdorf, D. J., and Tontonoz, P. (2001) LXRα controls lipid-inducible expression of the apolipoprotein E gene in macrophages and adipocytes.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.  98: 507-512.

  15. Laffitte, B.A., Kast, H.R., Nguyen, C.M., Zavacki, A.M., Moore, D.D., and Edwards, P.A.  (2000)  Identification of the DNA binding specificity and potential target genes for the farnesoid X-activated receptor.  J. Biol. Chem.  275: 10638-10647.

  16. Edwards, P.A., Tabor, D., Kast, H.R., and Venkateswaran A.  (2000)  Regulation of gene expression by SREBP and SCAP.  Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  1529: 103-113.