postheadericon Jan B Hoek, Ph.D.

My Postdoctoral training Mentor

Dr. Jan B Hoek is Professor in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy & Cell Biology and Vice-Chair for Research in Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA, USA).

For nearly three decades, Dr. Jan B. Hoek has worked to advance our understanding of the onset and progression of alcohol-related tissue injury and disease by investigating how acute or chronic alcohol exposure affects basic cellular processes in the liver and other tissues. Dr. Hoek's early work demonstrated that alcohol disrupts cells' ability to maintain stable calcium levels, which in turn disrupts cellular calcium signaling. The disruption of calcium signaling adversely impacts a broad array of cellular functions, including the regulation of stress responses and energy metabolism. The disruption of these and other cellular signaling activities by alcohol may account for many cellular defects that result in an inadequate defense against stress conditions and contribute to cell and tissue injury. Dr. Hoek has also been a leader in applying systems biology and computational biology approaches as tools for understanding the broad cellular and system-wide impact of alcohol exposure, and he has established national and international collaborations to enhance research in these areas.

Research in Dr. Hoek's laboratory is focused on the analysis of integrated signaling responses in liver and other tissues and on the adaptive or maladaptive modification of these responses by acute and chronic ethanol exposure. The following projects are currently ongoing:

  • Analysis of growth factor signaling networks and related gene expression profiles in liver, using a combination of computational modeling and experimental studies
  • Signaling events associated with the onset and progression of liver regeneration, with emphasis on the control of energy metabolism, purinergic signaling and AMP-activated protein kinase
  • Mechanisms of ethanol-associated disturbance of cellular Ca2+ homeostasis and Ca2+ signaling and its role in adaptation and stress-responses in the liver
  • Mechanisms of ethanol-induced suscpetibility to apoptotic signals in the liver

Dr. Hoek trained in biochemistry with Drs. J.M. Tager and E.C. Slater at the University of Amsterdam, focusing on mitochondrial metabolism. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1972. During this time he also worked with Dr. H.A. Krebs in Oxford, UK, on the integration of mitochondrial and tissue redox metabolism. He then pursued postdoctoral studies with Dr. Lars Ernster in Stockholm, Sweden, after which he joined the faculty of the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Dr. Hoek was introduced to alcohol research in 1981, when he joined the group of Dr. Emanuel Rubin at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. The alcohol research group moved in 1986 to Thomas Jefferson University, where Dr. Hoek is currently Professor and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology. The department has a strong research focus on alcohol, particularly on its impact on mitochondrial metabolism, cell signaling, oxidative stress, and cell death, as mechanisms by which alcohol consumption can affect cell and tissue function. Dr. Hoek has mentored several investigators who are currently working in these areas.

Dr. Hoek has held numerous leadership and advisory positions in the alcohol research field. He has served on several NIH and NIAAA study sections, and from 2004 to 2008 was a member of the NIAAA National Advisory Council. He is currently a member of the Medical Advisory Council of the Alcoholic Beverages Medical Research Foundation (ABMRF). Dr. Hoek is Associate Editor for Reviews and Commentaries for Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. He also chairs the Publication Committee of the Research Society on Alcoholism. Dr. Hoek is engaged in multiple scientific collaborations in the U.S. and internationally. He serves on the steering committee of the German Liver Systems Biology consortium "HepatoSys," and he works closely with the newly established Systems Biology Center at University College Dublin, Ireland.

NIAAA has honored Dr. Hoek with the Mark Keller Award.