Heidi Woelbern, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Dr. Heidi Woelbern has been at PLNU since 2008. She teaches numerous courses, including Introduction to Biotechnology, Introduction to Cell Biology and Biochemistry, and Microbiology. Her research interests have 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.

Google Scholar Profile

Summer Research


  • Ph.D., Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles
  • B.S., Chemistry, Westmont College, Magna Cum Laude
  • B.A., Religious Studies, Westmont College, Magna Cum Laude

Courses Taught

  • Biotechnology and Society – BIO 1004
  • Cell Biology and Biochemistry – BIO 2010
  • Microbiology of Infectious Diseases – BIO 2020
  • Genetics – BIO 3045
  • Perspectives on Science – BIO 6092

Experience in Field

  • Co-Director of SEASAND, the Science Education Association of San Diego, a California Subject Matter Project, 2009 – 2010
  • Senior Research Scientist at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, 2002 – 2007
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 2001 – 2002 
  • Graduate School, University of California, Los Angeles, 1996 – 2001
  • Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, Westmont College, 1996
  • Laboratory Instructor, Department of Chemistry, Westmont College, 1995 – 1996

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Co-Director of SEASAND, the Science Education Association of San Diego, a California Subject Matter Project, 2009 – 2010
  • Member of the Endocrine Society, 2002 – 2007
  • Member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2004 – 2007
  • Patent: “Methods and Compositions for Regulating Multi-drug Resistance Associated Protein 2” Inventors: Peter A. Edwards (UCLA), Heidi Kast (UCLA) and Bryan Goodwin (GlaxoSmithKline)

Awards and Honors

  • George Popjak Scholar Award, 2001
  • Department of Education Training Grant, 1997 – 1998
  • Academic Honors, 1991 – 1995

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 PPARg and SREBP in the Regulation of Adipogenesis. J. Biol. Chem. 279: 23908-23915.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

See More Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Laffitte, B.A., Repa, J.J., Joseph, S.B., Wilpitz, D.C., Kast, H.R., Mangelsdorf, D. J., and Tontonoz, P. (2001). LXRa Controls Lipid-Inducible Expression of the Apolipoprotein E Gene in Macrophages and Adipocytes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 98: 507-512.
  • 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.