Ahmed Lawan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences


301 Sparkman Drive
Shelby Center
Room 369H
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



The goal of our laboratory is to elucidate the involvement of complex signaling pathways in the control of lipid metabolism. This has important implications in human health including the development of obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. The molecular and physiological basis for the actions of MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) in cell and whole-body metabolism is the broad focus of our research program. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) have emerged as major sensors of environmental status, where environmental indications motivate intracellular signaling pathways responsible for regulation of fundamental cellular physiological functions like cell survival and death, metabolism, proliferation and cell cycle. MAPKs are inactivated by direct dephosphorylation of their regulatory threonine and tyrosine residues by MKPs. Our studies use a combination of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, genetics and mouse models to study metabolism and metabolic disorders. Our research program aims include: Regulation of lipid metabolism by MKPs in physiology and disease; Gut-liver axis connection in the development of fatty liver disease; Identify and characterize novel MKP/MAPK substrates in lipid metabolism; Identify targets and design therapies for treating metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Curriculum Vitae

Research Website


  • Ph.D. University of Strathclyde, U.K. (Cell Biology & Cardiovascular Disease) 2011
  • M.Sc. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria (Cardiovascular Physiology) 2004
  • B.Sc. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria (Neuroscience) 1995


  • Signal transduction
  • Obesity
  • Hepatic physiology and disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular biology
  • Regulation of lipid metabolism by MKPs in physiology and disease.
  • Gut-liver axis connection in the development of fatty liver disease.
  • Identify and characterize novel MKP/MAPK substrates in lipid metabolism.
  • Identify targets and design therapies for treating metabolic and cardiovascular diseases

Recent Publications

  • Qiu, B., Ahmed Lawan, C.E. Xirouchaki, et al. MKP1 promotes nonalcoholic steatohepatitis by suppressing AMPK activity through LKB1 nuclear retention. Nature Communications 14, 5405 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41145-5

  • Morgan Welch, Cassandra Secunda, Nabin Ghimire, Isabel Martinez, Amber Mathus, Urja Patel, Sarayu Bhogoju, Mashael Al-Mutairi, Kisuk Min and Ahmed Lawan. 2022. Characterization and Roles of Membrane Lipids In Fatty Liver Disease. Membranes 12 (4):410.PubMed PMID: 35448380

  • Fernando SY, Smith S, Sellers J, Junkins S, Bhogoju S, Sadie Junkins, Morgan Welch, Orion Willoughby, Nabin Ghimire, Cassandra Secunda, Barmanova M, Kumer SC, Min K and Lawan A. 2022. Metabolic impact of MKP-2 upregulation in obesity promotes insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Nutrients 14 (12):2475. PubMed PMID: 35745205

  • Jacob Sellers, Abigail Brooks, Savanie Fernando, Gabrielle Westenberger, Sadie Junkins, Shauri Smith, Kisuk Min, and Ahmed Lawan. 2021. Fasting-induced upregulation of MKP-1 modulates the hepatic response to feeding. Nutrients 13 (11):3941. PubMed PMID: 34836195

  • Gabrielle Westenberger, Jacob Sellers, Savanie Fernando, Sadie Junkins, Sung Min Han, Kisuk Min, and Ahmed Lawan. 2021. Function of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases in Hepatic Inflammation. J Cell Signal 2(3): 172-180. PubMed PMID: 34557866

  • Anton M. Bennett and Ahmed Lawan. 2020 Improving Obesity and Insulin Resistance by Targeting Skeletal Muscle MKP-1. J Cell Signal 1(4): 160-168. PubMed PMID: 33179019

  • Ahmed Lawan, Kisuk Min, Lei Zhang, Alberto Canfran-Duque, Michael J. Jurczak, Joao Paulo G. Camporez Yaohui Nie, Timothy P. Gavin, Gerald I. Shulman, Carlos Fernandez-Hernando, Anton M. Bennett. 2018. Skeletal muscle-specific deletion of MKP-1 reveals a p38 MAPK/JNK/Akt signaling node that regulates obesity induced insulin resistance. Diabetes 67:624-635.PubMed PMID: 29317435

  • Ahmed Lawan, Anton M. Bennett. 2017. Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Regulation in Hepatic Metabolism. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 28 (12): 868-878PubMed PMID: 29128158

  • Kisuk Min, Ahmed Lawan, Anton M. Bennett.2017.Loss of MKP-5 promotes myofiber survival by activating STAT3/Bcl-2 signaling during regenerative myogenesis. Skelet Muscle. 7 (1): 21.PubMed PMID: 29047406

  • Lawan A., Zhang L., Gatzke F, Min, Kisuk, Jurczak M.J., Al-Mutairi M, Richter P, Camporez J.P.G, Couvillon A, Pesta D, Flach R.J.R, Shulman, G.I., and Bennett A.M. 2015. Hepatic MAP kinase phosphatase-1 Selectively Regulates Glucose Metabolism and Energy Homeostasis. Mol Cell Biol. 35 (1): 26-40.PubMed PMID: 25312648

Affiliate Faculty

Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology

Dr. Gregory Barsh

Research Faculty

Dr. Josh Clevenger

Research Faculty

Dr. Nick Cochran

HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology

Dr. Sara Cooper

Research Faculty

Dr. Gregory Cooper

Research Faculty

Dr. Jane Grimwood

Research Faculty

Dr. Jian Han

Research Faculty

Dr. Alex Harkess

Research Faculty

Dr. Neil Edward Lamb

Research Faculty

Dr. Elaine Lyon

Research Faculty

Dr. John Mayo

Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans

Dr. Richard Myers

Research Faculty

Dr. Le Su

Junior Fellow HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology

Dr. Kankshita Swaminathan

Research Faculty