Lisa Peterson
Office Address:
2-126 Cancer and Cardiovascular Center
Mailing Address:

Masonic Cancer Center 2-126 CCRB
2231 6th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Lisa Peterson, PhD

Professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences


Program Co-Leader, Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention, Masonic Cancer Center (MCC)


PhD, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, 1985
BS, Chemistry, Macalester College, 1981


My research focuses on mechanisms by which tobacco smoke chemicals initiate cancer. Organic, biological and analytical chemical methods are employed to study this problem. One of my research interests is exploring the mechanisms by which nitrosamines exert their tissue-specific carcinogenic effects. These studies indicate that DNA repair plays a critical role in the overall activity of the tobacco-specific nitrosamine, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) as a lung specific carcinogen. In addition, I am investigating how other tobacco smoke chemicals influence the carcinogenic properties of NNK and other tobacco carcinogens in established rodent tumor models.

I also study how furan induces liver tumors in laboratory animals. Sources of human exposure include processed food, tobacco smoke and air pollution. The specific events involved in tumor induction by this carcinogen are unknown. A key step in this process is the biochemical conversion of furan to reactive metabolites that chemically modify a variety of cellular molecules such as proteins and polyamines. I am interested in connecting these reactions to the toxic and carcinogenic properties of furan. My research team demonstrated that furan metabolites are present in human urine and are elevated in tobacco and cannabis smokers and e-cigarette users. Future studies will determine if furan contributes to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke in humans.


Environment & exposures, toxicology, tobacco, cancer, gene-environment interaction, DNA damage, DNA repair, metabolism, biomarkers.

Awards and Recognition

  • Member, Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health
  • Faculty Achievement Award in Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 2005
  • American Chemical Society Fellow, 2013
  • Macalester College Alumni Service Award, 2016

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