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Faculty and Staff

Colleen L. Doci, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Exercise and Sports Science
(317) 955-6178
University Hall, 02A

Colleen Doci


Colleen L. Doçi, Ph.D., is an associate professor of exercise and sport science at the Marian University College of Health Professions. She earned a B.S. in chemistry with biochemistry honors from Purdue University. She then earned a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Chicago with a focus on posttranscriptional regulation of angiogenic factors in epithelial cancers. She was awarded a postdoctoral training award from the National Institutes of Health at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, where she worked on the role of epithelial migration and vascularity in oral cancer metastasis. During that time, she contributed to over a dozen published manuscripts, book chapters, and abstracts and served as a mentor for Masters and doctoral students.

Mentoring of young scientists is the core of Dr. Doci’s teaching and research philosophy. Since joining the faculty at Marian University, she has published and presented research with numerous undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. She also an advocate for scientific communication, serving as an ad hoc reviewer for multiple peer-reviewed journals, volunteering as a judge and safety compliance reviewer for regional science fairs, developing exhibits for scientific outreach events, serving on multiple biosafety committees in Indianapolis, and collaborating on diverse efforts to improve STEM identity in Indiana.

In 2020, Dr. Doci joined the Program in Exercise and Sport Science as an Assistant Professor and Director of Research, focusing on mentorship of Master’s thesis research. Her research interests center on microenvironmental signaling and vascularization in disease pathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on the role of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in cancer metastasis and wound healing.

Education and Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health (2011-2015)
  • Ph.D. in Cancer Biology, The University of Chicago (2011)
  • B.S. in Chemistry, Purdue University (2004)

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Member, Indiana Academy of Sciences (2015-present)
  • Member, Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity (2004-present)


My research interests center on exploring the molecular factors that help define the role of the tumor microenvironment in metastatic disease. Our lab seeks to establish how the interplay between the endothelial and epithelial cells can promote the initiation, development, and dissemination of metastatic disease in oral cancer. In my postdoc, I demonstrated the regulation of signaling molecules that remodel the tumor niche early in cancer development could profoundly affect the outcome of the disease. There, we demonstrated that semaphorin-mediated signaling from cancer cells inhibits lymphangiogenesis, alters the tumor microenvironment, and suppresses tumor growth and metastasis. In collaboration with my postdoctoral advisor, we have developed a novel orthotopic tumor model to further dissect the signaling pathways that may regulate distinct phenotypes in oral cancer. Currently, my lab focuses on using the data generated from this model to build a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular circuitries that contribute to metastatic disease in head and neck cancer. Compellingly, many of these same pathways and molecular players are active during other pathological processes such as wound healing. We are currently applying these findings to more broadly investigate how these epithelial/endothelial axes may shape the biological microenvironment and influence survival, immunological effector responses, and cellular remodeling. Students interested in nucleic acid biology and biochemistry, signal transduction, and molecular biology are welcome.


Undergraduate Courses

  • Genetics and Molecular Biology Lab (BIO 203L) 
  • Cell Biology Lab (BIO 204L)
  • Research and Scientific Literacy (ESS 280)
  • Biochemistry I & II Lab (BIO, CHE 311L-312L)
  • Immunology & Lab (BIO 345 and BIO 346)
  • Path-Specific Certification (ESS 390)
  • Biochemistry and Metabolism Lab (ESS 412L)
  • Biology Senior Seminar (BIO 490)
  • Biology Capstone (BIO 491)

Graduate Courses

  • Immunology (BMS 545)
  • Research Methods and Design (ESS 600)
  • Thesis Research (ESS 601)
  • Capstone in Biomedical Sciences (BMS 585)
  • Thesis Research in Biomedical Sciences (BMS 599)

Selected Publications

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