Linda Connelly, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Above, Prof. Connelly (front row, far right) with group of students and researchers of a UH Hilo mentor program that supports Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students.

Associate Professsor Connelly researches breast cancer metastasis. Specifically, she studies the molecular basis of primary tumor growth.

Linda Connelly
Linda Connelly

Linda Connelly is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. The focus of her lab at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is on breast cancer and trying to gain a better understanding of the signaling that leads to metastasis of breast cancer. A primary study is investigating the role of the protein osteoprotegerin (OPG) in breast cancer metastasis.

Connelly and her research team are also interested in the role of inflammation in breast cancer, particularly macrophage signaling.

Connelly studies the molecular basis of primary tumor growth and metastasis. Her current focus on the role of osteoprotegerin in breast cancer using both in vitro techniques and the chick embryo metastasis model. Her UH Hilo lab is also investigating the role of the macrophages and inflammatory signaling molecules in tumor progression.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Hawaiʻi as well as the rest of the US,” says Connelly. “My main focus is on identifying factors that promote metastasis or spread of breast cancer, which is the cause of breast cancer mortality. I hope that I can identify novel factors that can be targeted by drugs to prevent metastasis and reduce breast cancer mortality.”

Connelly says another goal of her work is to train competent and rigorous junior researchers, both students and post-docs, and help them progress in their chosen career paths.

“I have been fortunate to benefit from several excellent mentors and I hope I can fill the same role for the people in my lab,” Connelly says.


Associate Professor Connelly  teaches pathophysiology at the UH Hilo pharmacy college, and is the course coordinator for the pre-pharmacy program. She also is assistant professor at the Cancer Biology Program, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center.

She also serves as a mentor with the UH Hilo Students of Hawai‘i Advanced Research Program (SHARP), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology. SHARP supports all under-represented UH Hilo students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders, to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research to help them advance to doctoral studies.


Connelly received her bachelor of science in biochemistry, with honors, first class, with work placement from the University of Glasgow in the UK and her doctor in philosophy in molecular pharmacology from the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London, UK. She also worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medical and Molecular Pharmacology, UCLA, and the Department of Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.



Originally published April 17, 2012; last update Aug 13, 2018.