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Ivana Vucenik, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Medical and Research Technology

Secondary Appointment(s):


Administrative Title:

Graduate Program Director


Allied Health Building, 405C

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-1832

Education and Training

1969, BS, Pharmaceutical-Biochemical Faculty, University of Zagreb, Croatia

1975, MS, University of Zagreb, Croatia

1987, PhD, Pharmaceutical-Biochemical Faculty, University of Zagreb, Croatia 


Dr. Ivana Vucenik is Associate Professor of Medical & Research Technology and Pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. She received her PhD in Immunology and Hematology from the University of Zagreb, Croatia and joined the University of Maryland in 1990. Since then, she has been studying bioactive properties of dietary compounds, particularly the anticancer function of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and inositol in vivo and in vitro. She has been investigating the effect of IP6 on cancer cell growth, differentiation, and its interaction with intracellular signal transduction pathways to understand the molecular mechanism(s) underlying this antineoplastic action. Dr. Vucenik has also been studying the antiplatelet and natural killer (NK)-cell enhancing functions of IP6. Another research project in her laboratory focuses on platelet function testing and the phenomenon of aspirin resistance in humans. As recognized nutrition researcher and educator, she has made numerous presentations at national and international meetings. Her research has been supported by grants from the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the University of Maryland Designated Research Initiative Fund, and the University of Maryland Women Health Research Foundation.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Diet, Nutrition, Cancer Prevention, Cancer Treatment

Highlighted Publications

Vucenik, I. Conundrum of IP6. Open Biology 5 (11), 2015.150048 

Vucenik, I. and Stains, J.P. Obesity and cancer risk: evidence, mechanisms and recommendations. Ann NY Acad Sci 1271: 37-43, 2012.

Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, A.K.M. Protection against cancer by dietary inositol and IP6. Nutrition and Cancer 55: 109-125, 2006. 

Vucenik, I., Ramakrishna, G., Tantivejkul, K., Anderson, L.M. and Ramljak, D. Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) blocks proliferation of human breast cancer cells through a PKCd-dependent increase in p27Kip1 and decrease in retinoblastoma protein (pRb) phosphorylation.  Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 91: 35-45, 2005.  

Additional Publication Citations

Vucenik, I., Stains J.P. and Jones LP: The relationship between obesity and cancer. Periodicum Biologorum 116: 347-353, 2014.

Eiseman, J., Lan, J., Guo, J., Joseph, E. and Vucenik, I. Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of inositol hexaphosphate in C.B17 SCID mice bearing human breast cancer xenografts. Metabolism 60: 1465-1474, 2011.

Williams, K.A., Kolappaswamy, DeTolla, L.J. and Vucenik, I. Protective effect of inositol hexaphosphate against UVB damage in HaCaT cells  and skin carcinogenesis in SKH1 hairless mice. Comp Med 61: 39-44, 2011. 

Vucenik, I. and Stains, J.P. Cancer preventive and therapeutic properties of IP6: Efficacy and mechanisms. Periodicum Biologorum 112: 451-458, 2010.

Kolappaswamy, K., Williams, K.A., Benazzi, C., Sarli, G., McLeod, C.G., Vucenik, I. and DeTolla, L.J. Effect of inositol hexaphosphate on UVB-induced skin tumor development in SKH1 hairless mice. Comp Med 59: 147-152, 2009. 

Grases, F., Costa-Bauzá A., Perelló, J., Isern, B., Vucenik, I., Valiente, M., Muñoz, J.A., Prieto, R. Influence of concomitant food intake on the excretion of orally administered myo-inositol hexaphosphate (InsP6) in humans. Journal of Medicinal Food 9: 72-76, 2006. 

Vucenik, I. and Ramljak, D. The Contradictory role of PKCd in cellular signaling. Breast Cancer  Research and Treatment  97: 1-2,  2006. 

Shamsuddin, A.K.M. and Vucenik, I. IP6 & Inositol in cancer prevention and therapy. Current Cancer Therapy Reviews 1: 259-269, 2005. 

Ishikawa, T., Vucenik, I., Shamsuddin, A., Niculescu, F. and Burnett J.W. Two new actions of sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) nematocyst venom: studies on the mechanism of actions on complement activation and on the central nervous system. Toxicon 44: 895-899, 2004. 

Vucenik, I., Passaniti, A., Vitolo, M., Tantivejkul, K., Eggleton, P. and Shamsuddin, A.K.M. Anti-angiogenic activity of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6). Carcinogenesis 25: 2115-2123, 2004. 

Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, A.K.M. Cancer inhibition by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and inositol: From laboratory to clinic. Journal of Nutrition 133: 3778S-3784S, 2003. 

Tantivejkul, K., Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, K.M. Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) enhances key events of cancer metastasis: II. Effects on integrins and focal adhesions. Anticancer Research 23: 3681-3690, 2003. 

Tantivejkul, K., Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, K.M. Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) enhances key events of cancer metastasis: I. In vitro studies of adhesion, migration and invasion of MDA-MB 231 human breast cancer cells. Anticancer Research 23: 3671-3680, 2003. 

Tantivejkul, K., Vucenik, I. Eiseman J and Shamsuddin, K.M. Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) enhances the anti-proliferative effects of adriamycin and tamoxifen in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 79: 301-312, 2003.

Friend, M., Vucenik, I. and Miller, M. Reduced platelet responsiveness to aspirin in subjects with hyperlipidemia. British Medical Journal 326: 82-83, 2003. 

Grases, F., Simonet, B.M., Vucenik, I., Perello, J., Prieto, R.M. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Effects of exogenous inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6) on the levels of InsP6 and of inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) in malignant cells, tissues and biological fluids. Life Sciences 71: 1535-1546, 2002. 

Grases, F., Simonet, B.M., Vucenik, I., Prieto, R.M., Costa-Bauza, A., March, J.G. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Absorption and excretion of orally administered inositol hexaphosphate (IP6 or phytate) in humans. BioFactors 15: 53-61, 2001.

El-Sherbiny, Y., Cox, M.C., Ismail, Z.A., Shamsuddin, A.M. and Vucenik, I. G0/G1 arrest and S phase inhibition of human cancer cell lines by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6). Anticancer Research 21: 2393-2404, 2001. 

Vucenik, I., Gotovac, J., Druzijanic, N. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Usefulness of galactose oxidase-schiff test in rectal mucus for screening of colorectal malignancy. Anticancer Research 21: 1247-1256, 2001. 

Shamsuddin, A. M. and Vucenik, I. Mammary tumor inhibition by IP6. A review. Anticancer   Research 19: 3671-3674, 1999. 

Vucenik, I., Podczasy, J.J. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Antiplatelet activity of IP6. Anticancer Research 19: 3689-3684, 1999. 

Vucenik, I. Thrombophilia and activated protein C resistance. Biochem Med 8: 49-55, 1998.

Vucenik, I., Zhang, Z.S. and Shamsuddin, A.M. IP6 in treatment of liver cancer II. Intra-tumoral injection of IP6 regresses pre-existing human liver cancer xenotransplanted in nude mice. Anticancer Research 18: 4091-4096, 1998. 

Vucenik, I., Tantivejkul, K., Zhang, Z.G., Cole, K.E., Saied, I. and Shamsuddin, A.M. IP6 in treatment of liver cancer I. IP6 inhibits the growth and reverses the transformed phenotype in a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. Anticancer Research 18: 4091-4090, 1998.

Vucenik, I. and Podczasy, J.J. Whole-blood lumiaggregation: Evaluation of reagents. Clin Appl Thrombosis/Hemostasis  4: 253-256, 1998.

Vucenik, I., Kalebic, T., Tantivejkul, K. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Novel anticancer function of inositol hexaphosphate: Inhibition of human rhabdomyosarcoma in vitro and in vivo. Anticancer Research 18: 1377-1384, 1998. 

Vucenik, I., Yang, G. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Comparison of pure inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and high-bran diet in the prevention of DMBA-induced rat mammary carcinogenesis. Nutrition and Cancer 28: 7-13, 1997. 

Podczasy, J.J., Lee, J. and Vucenik, I. Evaluation of whole-blood lumiaggregation. Clin Appl Thrombosis/Hemostasis 3: 190-195, 1997.

Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) reduces risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Periodicum Biologorum  99: 1-6, 1997.

Shamsuddin, A.M., Vucenik, I. and Cole, K.E. IP6: A novel anti-cancer agent. Life Sciences 61: 343-354, 1997. 

Shamsuddin, A.M., Yang, G-Y and Vucenik, I. Novel anti-cancer functions of IP6: Growth inhibition and differentiation of human mammary cancer cell lines in vitro. Anticancer Research 16: 3287-3292, 1996.

Vucenik, I., Yang, G. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Inositol hexaphosphate and inositol inhibit DMBA-induced rat mammary cancer. Carcinogenesis 16: 1055-1058, 1995. 

Bergstrom, L.C., Vucenik, I., Hagen, I.K., Chernomorsky, S.A. and Poretz, R.D. In vitro photocytotoxicity of lysosomotropic immunoliposomes containing pheophorbide a with human bladder carcinoma cells. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 24: 17-23, 1994. 

Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, A.M. [3H]-Inositol hexaphosphate (phytic acid) is rapidly absorbed and metabolized by murine and human malignant cells. Journal of Nutrition 124:  861-868, 1994. 

Vucenik, I., Sakamoto, K., Bansal, M. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Inhibition of mammary carcinogenesis by inositol hexaphosphate (phytic acid). A pilot study. Cancer Letters  75: 95-102, 1993.

Sakamoto. K., Vucenik, I. and Shamsuddin, A.M. Absorption and tissue distribution of [3H]-phytic acid in rats. Journal of Nutrition 123: 713-720, 1993. 

Vucenik, I., Tomazic, V.J., Fabian, D. and Shamsuddin, A. M. Effect of phytic acid on murine transplantated and metastatic fibrosarcoma. Cancer Letters  65: 9-13, 1992.

Vucenik, I., Jones, L. and McLenithan J. Linking obesity, metabolism and cancer. In:  Metabolic Syndrome: A Comprehensive Textbook, edited by Rexford Ahima, Springer International Publishing, pp 723-741, 2016.

Vucenik, I. IP6 and inositol in cancer prevention and therapy. In: S. Ogawa (ed), Rice Studies, Present and Future, Sankyo Publishing, Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, pp. 196-209, 2012. 

Romagnolo, D.F. and Vucenik, I. Factors in the causation of female cancers and prevention. In: Preventive Nutrition, Ed. Bendich, A. and Deckelbaum, R., Humana/Springer, 2009.

Research Interests

Diet, nutrition and cancer prevention, Antineoplastic action of inositol compounds, Effects of IP6 on immunity and platelet activation,Platelet function and aspirin resistance 

Awards and Affiliations

  • 1970, Predoctoral Fellowship, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, NJ
  • 1982, Fulbright Fellowship
  • 2007 - Present, Visiting Professor, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2000 - 2003, Visiting Professor, University of Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • 2005 - 2008, Associate Director for Research, American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, DC

Community Service

  • Guest Editor - Journal of Nutrition: January 2007
  • Editorial Board and Reviewer - Biochemial Medical 2006: 2016/present
  • Reviewer - British Journal of Nutrition: 2012 - present
  • Reviewer - The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 2012 - present
  • Reviewer - Annals of NY Academy Science: 2012 - present
  • Reviewer - International Journal of Colorectal Disease: 2012 - present
  • Reviewer - Journal of Photochem and Photobiology B: Biology: 2012 - present
  • Reviewer - Metabolism: 2010 - present
  • Reviewer - Current Cancer Drug Targets: 2010 - present
  • Reviewer - The European Journal of Pharmacology: 2009 - present
  • Reviewer - Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry: 2009 - present
  • Reviewer - Cancer Therapy: 2008 - present
  • Reviewer - Journal of Surgical Oncology: 2007 - present
  • Reviewer - Journal of Nutrition: 2006 - present
  • Reviewer - Immunobiology: 2006 - present
  • Reviewer - Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 2005 - present
  • Reviewer - Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology: 2003 - present
  • Reviewer - Clinical Drug Investigation: 2002 - present
  • Reviewer - Periodicum Biologorum: 1995 - present
  • Reviewer - Grant: AAUW Educational Foundation, International Fellowships: 2009-present
  • Reviewer - Grant: NIH, Challenge Grants: May 2009
  • Reviewer - Grant: Bressler Research Fund, Univ. of MarylandSchool of Med.: 1994, 1995
  • Reviewer - Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia: 2006
  • Reviewer - Member of the Peer-Review Group to evaluate the performance of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Zagreb, Croatia: June 1999
  • External Reviewer for PhD Thesis, MANIPAL UNIVERSITY, Karnataka, INDIA: October 2011
  • Foreign Mentor for PhD Thesis, MAHIDOL UNIVERSITY, Bangkok, THAILAND: 2016-2018
  • Science Advisor, American Institute for Cancer Research: 2008 - 2015
  • Science Advisory Council, California Walnut Commission: 2010 - 2015