Jason Burkhead, Ph.D.

Dr. Jason Burkhead
Department of Biological Sciences
(907) 786-4765


  • Ph.D., Biology, Colorado State University, 2003
  • M.S., Biology, Colorado State University, 2001
  • B.S., Biology, Indiana University, 1995

Teaching Responsibilities

  • BIOL A461/661- Molecular Biology
  • BIOL A490/690: Cell & Molecular Structure and Function
  • BIOL A498/698: Individual Research
  • BIOL A499/699: Senior Thesis
  • BIOL A605- Grad Proseminar in Sciences

Research Interests

My research group is interested in understanding how humans and other organisms maintain homeostasis of the essential, yet reactive, transition metal copper. Our work uses biochemical, molecular and cell biological methods in projects that range from study of basic biochemical and cellular mechanisms to clinical studies. In mammals, the liver is the central organ responsible for management of copper levels. We use animal models of copper toxicity and deficiency to investigate the consequences of copper dyshomeostasis and the molecular underpinnings of associated liver diseases such as Wilson Disease and non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. Emerging clinical collaborations aim to understand the relationship between copper levels, transition metal balance and end-stage liver disease.

Our basic science work uses copper handling machinery as an entry point to understand how cells maintain vesicular transport fidelity. This work uses biophysical, biochemical and cell biology methods to determine how regulatory proteins and transmembrane proteins interact with signaling lipids.

The research group includes graduate students, undergraduate students and technicians who are interested in a variety of academic and professional careers. We collaborate with researchers in the United States and abroad and welcome opportunities to interact with the broader scientific community. Our goals are to contribute to scientific knowledge that is important to the global community, create contemporary research opportunities for students at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and support a bioscience curriculum that is directly connected to research. Research group members have gone on to graduate science programs at UAA and other universities, medical school, professional schools and industry


A link to publications can be found here:

Recent publications:

Austin Morrell, Savannah Tallino, Lei Yu and Jason L. Burkhead. The role of insufficient copper in lipid synthesis and fatty-liver disease. IUBMB Life. (2017) Apr;69(4):263-270. Epub 2017 Mar 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 28271632. Cover article

Jonathan C. Rupp, Manon Locatelli, Alexis Grieser, Andrea Ramos, Patricia J. Campbell, Hong Yi, John Steel, Jason L. Burkhead*, Eric Bortz*. Host Cell Copper Transporters CTR1 and ATP7A are important for Influenza A virus replication. Virol J. 2017 Jan 23;14(1):11. PubMed PMID: 28115001; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5259989.*corresponding authors

Savannah L. Tallino, Megan Duffy, Martina Ralle María Paz Cortés, Mauricio Latorre and Jason L. Burkhead. Nutrigenomics analysis reveals that copper deficiency and dietary sucrose up-regulate inflammation, fibrosis and lipogenic pathways in a mature rat model of non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. (2015) J. Nut. Biochem. Oct.; 26(10): 996-1006.

Natalia Quiroz, Nicole Rivas, Talía del Pozo, Jason Burkhead, Miriam Suazo, Mauricio González and Mauricio Latorre Transcriptional activation of glutathione pathways and role of glucose homeostasis during copper imbalance. (2015) BioMetals 10.1007/s10534-015-9834-z, online 22 Feb 2015.

Jason L. Burkhead and Svetlana Lutsenko. The Role of Copper as a Modifier of Lipid Metabolism, Lipid Metabolism (2013), Prof. Rodrigo Valenzuela Baez (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0944-0, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/51819. Corresponding authors.

Philip Wilmarth, Kristopher Short, Oliver Fiehn, Svetlana Lutsenko, Larry David and Jason L. Burkhead. A systems approach implicates nuclear receptor targeting in the Atp7b-/- mouse model of Wilson’s Disease. (2012) Metallomics. Jul 28;4(7):660-8 [PMID: 22565294] Inside cover article.

Career History/Work Experience

  • Alaska INBRE Faculty