Karen Peck is a molecular biologist and aquatic toxicologist. She joined the NWFSC in 1993 to develop the use of hepatic oncogene mutation analysis as an early indicator of environmental exposure of marine flatfish to carcinogenic compounds. Karen received a B.S. in Microbiology from Rutgers and earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Yale University for her work on mechanisms of substrate recognition by bacterial RNA enzymes. Her postdoctoral work at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Seattle focused on the development of tumor-specific lytic peptides as a potential cancer therapy.
Current research interests include the toxicological effects of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants on fish early life stages. Specific emphasis is on exposure-related changes in the expression of cardioprotective genes, which may impact fish development, fitness, or survival. Karen also has studied the impacts of endocrine disruptors on Puget Sound fish, and provides scientific guidance on contaminant-related water and sediment quality issues as they pertain to endangered salmon and other marine and freshwater species.