Andrea Fleig, PhD, MBA

Andrea Fleig, PhD, MBA

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Affiliate Member, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Adjunct Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa

PhD, Biomedical Sciences (Neurosciences)
Professorial Degree, Zoology
Executive MBA, Business Administration


Academic Exchange Program Award, University of Konstanz, Germany
Michael Weekly Award, Albert L. Tester Symposium, University of Hawaiʻi, USA
Max-Planck Stipend Award, Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, Goettingen, Germany
Weinman Innovator Award for Translational Research, Weinman Foundation, USA
Rudolf J. Schweyen Award for Outstanding Work in Researching Molecular Aspects of Magnesium Homeostasis, International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium, France
Lifetime member, Beta Gamma Sigma, The International Business Honor Society, USA
Lifetime Member, National Academy of Inventors, Hawaii Chapter, USA
Finalist, Entrepreneur of the Year in the Life Sciences 2016, Hawaii Venture Capital Association, USA
Member, Founding Editorial Boards of FUNCTION, England
Founding Member, Scientific Advisory Committee of the “Erwin Neher Biophysics Laboratory for Innovative Drug Discovery”, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau

Research Focus

Cellular signaling events as they relate to health and disease are the central theme of my research. Over the past three decades I have been using biophysical and pharmacological approaches elucidating ion channel function and its relationship to cell signaling. Mediated by very fruitful national and international collaborations, I was able to incorporate molecular aspects to this work, which has led to the original identification and biophysical as well as functional characterization of several novel ion channels, including the channel-kinase TRPM7.

Our work identified TRPM7 as a central mechanism for magnesium homeostasis, and possibly trace metal regulation, in mammals. TRPM7, it turns out, is also centrally involved in mammalian embryonic development, and aggravation of outcome measures in ischemic stroke. Recent developments have placed TRPM7 at the center cell proliferation and cell cycle progression, prompting my research interests to move into tumor biology. In addition to elucidating the mechanisms involved in magnesium-dependent control of cell proliferation, we have screened natural product libraries for pharmacological activity on this target and identified Waixenicin A, a molecular produced by a Hawaiian soft coral, as a potent an highly specific inhibitor of TRPM7 and proliferative activity of tumor cells. The TRPM7 gene, its function and its pharmacological modulation by this compound have resulted in three patent application and numerous publications in the journals of Cell, Science and Nature.

Selected Publications

Zierler S, Yao G, Zhang Z, Kuo WC, Poerzgen P, Penner R, Horgen FD, Fleig A. (2011). Waixenicin A inhibits cell proliferation through magnesium-dependent block of Transient Receptor Melastatin (TRPM7) channels. J Biol Chem;286(45), 39328-39335. PMED ID: 21926172.

Launay P, Cheng H, Srivatsan S, Penner R, Fleig A, Kinet JP. (2004). TRPM4 regulates calcium oscillations after T cell activation. Science;Nov 19; 306(5700):1374-7. PMED ID: 15550671.

Launay P, Fleig A, Perraud AL, Scharenberg AM, Penner R, Kinet JP. (2002). TRPM4 is a Ca2+-activated nonselective cation channel mediating cell membrane depolarization. Cell;May 3; 109(3):397-407.PMED ID: 12015988.

Nadler MJ, Hermosura MC, Inabe K, Perraud AL, Zhu Q, Stokes AJ, Kurosaki T, Kinet JP, Penner R, Scharenberg AM, Fleig A. (2001). LTRPC7 is a Mg.ATP-regulated divalent cation channel required for cell viability. Nature;May 31; 411(6837):590-5; PMED ID: 11385574.

Perraud AL, Fleig A, Dunn CA, Bagley LA, Launay P, Schmitz C, Stokes AJ, Zhu Q, Bessman MJ, Penner R, Kinet JP, Scharenberg AM. (2001). ADP-ribose gating of the calcium-permeable LTRPC2 channel revealed by Nudix motif homology. Nature. May 31; 411(6837):595-9. PMED ID: 11385575.

Publication list via NCBI

Active Grants

A. Fleig, PI; R. Penner, Co-PI
Hamamatsu-Queen’s PET Imaging, LLC
“Hamamatsu-Queen’s High-Throughput Screening Center”
The goal of this project is to develop a HTS Center in collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center, Hawaii Pacific University, University of Hilo School of Pharmacy, and University of Hawaiʻi Chemistry Department to identify novel therapeutic strategies against cancer and other diseases.