Mark Burkard, MD, PhD

Position title: Professor, Medicine


Phone: 608-262-2803

6059 WIMR
1111 Highland Avenue

Lab Website
Burkard Research Group
Mark Burkard

Research Interests

My career goal is to understand how human cells divide and to use this to treat breast cancer. My research group has two major projects. First, we are using chemical biology and human cell gene editing to understand how mitotic kinases control human cell division. This is challenging because protein kinases have many substrates and concordant functions, but they occur all within ~60 minutes of human cell division. By combining chemical and genetic tools, we have begun to unravel the complicated functions of Plk1 and link these functions to the cognate molecular events.  A second approach towards this goal is to develop quantitative measures of chromosomal instability and to develop this as a biomarker for precision oncology.  Ultimately we hope to use these information to identify the unique characteristics of each cancer, and develop precision treatment approaches.

Research Breakthroughs

  • Develop chemical-genetic approaches to interrogate signaling in the human kinetochore
  • Discover the mechanism of Taxane activity with Dr. B. Weaver
  • Develop computational and single-cell genomic analyses to measure chromosomal instability
  • Implement routine cancer genomic analyses in the UW Carbone Cancer Center and with statewide partners.

Honors & Awards

  • 2019 – Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award, University of Wisconsin
  • 2019 – UW Health Patient and Family Experience Provider Champion Award
  • 2018 – Page-Grossman Professionalism Award, UW Department of Medicine
  • 2016 – Dean’s Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health []
  • 2015 – Komen Madison Award for Commitment to Research and Treatment on Breast Cancer
  • 2012 – Novel and Newsworthy Presentation (1 of 12 selected from >2500), American Society of Cell Biology Annual Meeting, San Francisco CA []
  • 2012 – ACRIN-ECOG Translational Research Award, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, Hollywood FL. []
  • 2012 – Puestow Research Award for Significant Research Contribution toward Advancing the Field of Medicine.  Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin

Selected Publications

(Find further publications on PubMed)

  1. Lera RF, Norman RX, Dennee A, Martin-Koob J, Burkard ME.  Plk1 protects kinetochore-centromere architecture against microtubule pulling forces.  EMBO Reports, 2019 Aug 30:e48711. doi: 10.15252/embr.201948711.
  2. Denu RA, Burkard ME.  Analysis of the “centrosome-ome” identifies MCPH1 deletion as a major cause of centrosome amplification in human cancer.  Sci Rep 10:11921, 2020.
  3. Johnson JM, Hebert AS, Drane QH, Lera RF, Wan J, Weaver BA, Coon JJ, Burkard ME.  A genetic toggle for chemical control of individual Plk1 substrates.  Cell Chem Biol.  Cell Chem Biol.  27: 350, 2020.  NIHMSID:NIHMS1586168.
  4. Lera RF, Potts GK, Suzuki A, Johnson JM, Salmon ED, Coon JJ, Burkard ME.  Decoding Polo-like kinase 1 signaling along the kinetochore-centromere axis.  Nature Chem. Biol.  2016 doi:10.1038/nchembio.2060.  PMCID: PMC4871769.
  5. Choudhary A, Zachek B, Lera RF, Zasadil LM, Lasek A, Denu RA, Kim H, Kanugh C, Laffin JJ, Harter JM, Wisinski KB, Saha S, Weaver BA, Burkard ME.  Identification of selective lead compounds for treatment of high-ploidy breast cancer.  Mol. Cancer Ther. 2016 15(1):48-59.  PMCID: PMC4707107.
  6. Zasadil LM, Andersen KA, Yeum D, Rocque GB, Wilke LG, Tevaarwerk AJ, Raines RT, Burkard ME, Weaver BA. Cytotoxicity of Paclitaxel in Breast Cancer is due to Chromosome Missegregation on Multipolar Spindles. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Mar 26;6(229):229ra43. PMCID: PMC4176609.