University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Cancer Center

Bio for Diane Jaworski, Ph.D.
Diane Jaworski, Ph.D.

Diane Jaworski, Ph.D.

Dr. Jaworski's laboratory utilizes a wide variety of in vitro and in vivo cellular and molecular biological approaches to investigate the role of extracellular matrix proteolysis in the normal and diseased nervous system, with particular emphasis on gliomagenesis.  Our ability to cure glioma is greatly hindered by the fact that at the time of diagnosis tumor cells have invaded to distant sites, making surgical resection palliative rather than curative.  Another treatment challenge is recurrence due to the persistence of chemotherapy and radiation resistant glioma stem cells. The hypothesis being tested is that restoration of acetate bioavailability may provide a safe and efficacious means to reduce glioma cell growth.  N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is the most concentrated metabolic sources of acetate in the human brain, but the enzyme that cleaves NAA to generate acetate, aspartoacylase (ASPA), is down-regulated in glioma.  The lab has demonstrated that the FDA approved food additive Triacetin (glyceryl triacetate, GTA) can bypass ASPA deficiency to serve as an acetate delivery vehicle.  Unlike free acetate, GTA can freely cross the blood-brain barrier and enter cells.  Pre-clinical studies in the lab have shown that GTA reduces glioma stem cell growth in vitro and enhances chemotherapeutic efficacy to increase survival of murine orthotopically grafted with glioma stem-like cells.  GTA has been chronically administered to infants with an ASPA mutation with no significant side effects.  An international PCT patent protects develop of GTA as a chemotherapeutic adjuvant.  A phase I clinical trial is planned in the near future. 

Contact Information
Office Location:
Neurological Sciences, Health Sci Rsrch Facility Rm 418


1976-1979 B.S. in Biology, Wayne State University, Detroit MI
1979-1981 Post-baccalaureate: Secondary Education Certification, Wayne State University, Detroit MI
1982-1983 M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Texas, Arlington, TX

1987-1991 Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX

1991-1995 Postdoctoral Fellow, Section of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Academic Interests

Dr. Jaworski teaches undergraduate, graduate Neuroscience, and medical students. In the fall term, she presents all of the lectures on Central Nervous System structure, function, and pathology in the undergraduate Human Anatomy & Physiology ANPS 19 course. In the spring term, she lectures, teaches in the Neuroanatomy laboratories, and serves as a small group discussion facilitator in the first year medical student VIC Neural Science course. As needed, she also participates in the Developmental Neurobiology and Neurochemistry courses for students in the Neuroscience graduate program.

Academic Appointments

1981-1987 Teacher, Irving Independent School District, Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
1990-1991 Adjunct Faculty, Dept. of Natural and Social Sciences, North Lake Community College, Irving, TX
9/95 - 6/01 Assistant Professor, UVM College of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
7/01 - 6/12 Associate Professor, UVM College of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
3/11 Visiting Professor, Instituto de Biotecnología Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,  Cuernavaca, México
7/12 - present Professor, UVM College of Medicine, Department of Neurological Sciences

Awards and Honors

1991        Outstanding Doctoral Graduate Award, Texas Woman's University
1991        Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Texas Woman's University
1992-1995    NIH NEI Postdoctoral NRSA Award
1996 - 2002    NIH NINDS First Award
2000 - 2002    University of Vermont College of Medicine Faculty Development Award
2003        Winner of American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) Gender Equity Award for Basic Scientist from the College of Medicine (COM) Class of 2005
2003 - 2006    Nominee for Basic Science/Foundation Teacher of the Year Award
2009    Nominee for Silver Stethoscope Teaching Award from the COM Class of 2011
2009    Nominee for Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award
2010    Nominee for Dean Washaw Integration Award, AMWA Gender Equity Award, and Above and Beyond Award from the COM Class of 2012
2011    Nominee for Foundations Teacher of the Year and Above and Beyond Awards from the COM Class of 2013
2011    Winner of AMWA Gender Equity Award from the COM Class of 2013
2012     Nominee for Foundation Teacher of the Year Award from the COM Class of 2014
2013     Nominee for Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award


Tsen AR, PM Long, Driscoll, MT Davies, BA Teasdale, PL Penar, WW Pendlebury, JL Spees, SE Lawler, MS Viapiano, DM Jaworski. (2014) Triacetin-based acetate supplementation as a chemotherapeutic adjuvant therapy in glioma. International Journal of Cancer 134:1300-10.
Long PM, SW Tighe, HE Driscoll, JR Moffett, AM Namboodiri, MS Viapiano, SE Lawler, Jaworski DM.
(2013) Acetate Supplementation Induces Growth Arrest of NG2/PDGFRa-Positive Oligodendroglioma-Derived Tumor-Initiating Cells. PLoS One 2013 8:e80714.
Long PM, JR Moffett, AMA Namboodiri, MS Viapiano, SE Lawler, DM Jaworski. (2013) N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) promote growth and inhibit differentiation of glioma stem-like cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288:26188-200.
Thirkettle S, J Decock, H Arnold, CJ Pennington, DM Jaworski, DR Edwards. (2013) Matrix metalloproteinase 8 (collagenase 2) induces the expression of interleukins 6 and 8 in breast cancer cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288:16282-94.
Long PM, HM Stradecki, JE Minturn, UV Wesley, and DM Jaworski. (2011) Differential aminoacylase expression in neuroblastoma.  International Journal of Cancer. 129:1322-30.

Rivera S, M Khrestchatisky, L  Kaczmarek, GA Rosenberg, and DM Jaworski. (2010) Metzincin proteases and their inhibitors: foes or friends in nervous system physiology?  Journal of Neuroscience 30: 5337-57.

Perez-Martinez L and DM Jaworski. (2005). Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 promotes neuronal differentiation by acting as an anti-mitogenic signal. Journal of Neuroscience 25:4917-29.
View a complete list of Dr. Jaworski's articles via PubMed.


“DNA encoding BEHAB, a brain hyaluronan-binding protein, and recombinant expression systems for production of BEHAB polypeptides.”
U.S. Patent 5,635,370.  Filed 4/8/94; issued 6/3/97.
Applicants: Susan J. Hockfield and Diane M. Jaworski
“Methods and Compounds for Treating Cancer”
U.S. Patent Number 61/509,173.  Filed 7/19/11, issued 9/9/11.
Applicant: Diane M. Jaworski
“Methods and Compounds for Treating Cancer”
PCT Number US1247433.  Filed 8/21/12.
Applicant: Diane M. Jaworski

Professional Activities

COM Admissions Committee member (2004 - present)
COM Medical Curriculum Committee (2013 - present)
COM Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Self-study sub-committee (1997, 2005-6, 2012-13)
COM Faculty Standards Committee member (1997-1999, 2009-2012)
COM Instructional Improvement Committee member (2005-2011)
COM Intramural Research Committee member (2001-2007)
UVM Faculty Senate Research, Scholarship & Graduate Education Committee member (2009-2010)
UVM Faculty Senate Curricular Affairs Committee member (2010-2011)
President, VT Chapter Society for Neuroscience (2004-2006)
Vermont Regional Brain Bee Organizer and Officiate (2010, 2011)
Girl’s Science Discovery Day presentation (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011)
COM Family Day presenter (2010 - present)
COM Cares Day participant (2008, 2009, 2011, 2013)
Community Medical School presentation (2006, 2012)
FAHC/COM Community Rounds presentation (twice in 2011)
Society for Neuroscience, Membership & Chapter Committee member (2008 - 2012)
Ad hoc reviewer: NIH, NSF, Alzheimer's Foundation, UK The Big C, UK Wellcome Trust