Beate Illek, Ph.D.
Beate Illek, Ph.D., is Assistant Scientist and Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Laboratory at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Her laboratory provides a research arm to the Pediatric Pulmonology by studying salt and water transport across epithelial tissues. This physiological process is highly relevant for the pathology of cystic fibrosis and diarrheal diseases in children. Dr. Illek received her doctoral degree in Germany with honors (summa cum laude) and performed postdoctoral research in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley and in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Illek and her team identified a number of small molecules that target the CFTR chloride ion channel including genistein and other flavonoids which paved the way for CFTR-based drug development. Their work provided the first proof-of-principal for the treatment of the underlying chloride ion channel defect in carriers with the G551D-CFTR mutation. Since then, genistein and other flavonoids have been used worldwide as a gold standard to probe CFTR channel activity in a variety of tissues and cell culture models.