Professor, Biology Department
Phone: 814-871-7651
Office: Z 203

  • Biography
  • Courses Taught
  • Educational History
  • Professional Experience
  • Professional Societies
  • Publications
  • Scholarship/Research
  • Service


I am a second generation American of Italian and Polish descent. I was raised in Erie, PA but lived in several East Coast cities while completing my dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships. I returned to Erie as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Gannon University and am now a full Professor of Biology. My primary teaching responsibilities are in the areas of cadaver based Human Gross Anatomy and Cell Biology. My research is conducted in collaboration with local physicians and researchers and currently investigates the role of the hormones relaxin and estrogen on human fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Gannon University undergraduate students work in my research lab on these collaborative projects.

In my spare time, I like cooking, making jewelry, crocheting, and reading/watching science fiction.I met my husband, Chet LaPrice, at a Gannon University Christmas party. He is the Operations Manager at Gannon University's radio station, WERG 90.5. Together, we like to travel, cross country ski, bike ride, and attend local and national baseball games.

Courses Taught

  • Human Gross Anatomy (BIOL 365)
  • Human Gross Anatomy laboratory (BIOL 366)
  • Cell Biology (BIOL 375)
  • Cell Biology laboratory (BIOL 376)
  • Mechanical and Biological Wonders of Panama [includes a Spring Break Trip to Panama] (ENG 201)
  • Special Topics in Biology (BIOL 492)
  • Animal Form and Function (BIOL 124)

Educational History

  • Gannon University, B.S. in Biology, 1984
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Ph.D., Thesis Title: The Interaction of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus with Baby Hamster Kidney Cells and Rat Embryo Fibroblasts,  Thesis Advisor: Christopher C. Widnell, Ph.D.;  Department of Neurobiology, Anatomy, and Cell Science; Research area: Cell Biology; 1992

Professional Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of James D. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D.
      March, 1992 - May, 1995
      Department of Cell Biology
      Yale School of Medicine
      333 Cedar Street
      New Haven, CT 06511
      Recipient of Anna Fuller Foundation Fellowship, 3/1992 to 3/1994


  • Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of James M. Crawford, M.D., Ph.D.
      July, 1995 - December, 1996
      Department of Pathology
      Brigham and Women's Hospital

      January, 1997- July, 1997
      Department of Pathology
      Yale School of Medicine


  • Assistant Professor, Biology Department, Gannon University, August 1997-July 2002

  • Associate Professor, Biology Department, Gannon University, August 2002-2011
      Tenured, May 2004
      Director of Gannon’s “3 + 4" LECOM Accelerated Osteopathic Medical Program
       August 1998- June 2006
      Director of Gannon’s University Scholars Program
       August 2000-2003
      Director of Gannon’s “4 + 4" LECOM Medical Program
       September 2002- June 2006
      Director of Gannon’s Pre-Pharmacy Programs
       July 2004- June 2009
      Coordinator of Undergraduate Research
       September 2006 – June 2011
      Director, Biotechnology Program
       July 2008- June 2010

  •  Professor, Biology Department, Gannon University, August 2011-

      Vice President, Faculty Senate, 2013-2014
      President, Faculty Senate, 2014-2015

Professional Societies

  • American Society for Cell Biology; Education Committee, 2005-2012; Public Information Committee, 2013-
  • American Association of Anatomists, Public Policy Committee, 2005-2008, Anatomical Nomenclature Committee, 2012-2013


  • Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Elisa M. Konieczko and Catherine E. Mattinson. 2014. Gannon University Human Gross Anatomy Lab Dissector. Gannon University Press (Erie, PA).

Vagula, Mary C. and Elisa M. Konieczko. 2012. “Lipid Peroxidation and Polybrominated Diphenyl  Ethers-A Toxicological Perspective.” Chapter 24 in Lipid Peroxidation. ISBN 980-953-143-0.  InTech (Rejeka, Croatia).

Karinna M. Vernaza and Elisa M. Konieczko. 2010. Better Learning through Collaboration and Assessment: Development of an Interdisciplinary Study Abroad Experience.  ASEE 2010 NC Sectional Conference Proceedings. Pittsburgh, PA, March 26-27, 2010., and via CD.

Konieczko, E.M. 2009. Hello Old Friend, My How You’ve Changed.  CBE Life Sciences Education. Vol. 8:167-168.

Cooney TE, Konieczko EM, Roach L, Poole B. Fate of Mu Receptors During Rat Skeletogenesis. Orthopedics 32(2):95, February 2009. (Full article available online at

Cooney TE, Schober JM, Lubahn JD, Konieczko EM.  Relaxin's involvement in extracellular matrix homeostasis: two diverse lines of evidence.  Ann NY Acad Sci 1160: 329-35, 2009.

Lubahn J, Ivance D, Konieczko E, Cooney T. Immunohistochemical detection of relaxin binding to the volar oblique ligament. J Hand Surg [Am]. 2006 Jan;31(1):80-4.

Sasi S., Konieczko, E.M., Contrafatto I., and J.D. Maloney. 2003. Modeling of Catheter-based Ablation of the left atrial-pulmonary vein junction in human hearts. Proceedings of the International Conference on Mathematics and Engineering Techniques in Medicine and Biological Sciences (METMBS’03), June 23-26, 2003, Las Vegas, Nevada, F. Valafar and H. Valafar, Eds., CSREA Press, pp. 417-423.

Galey S.,  Konieczko E.M., Arnold C.A., and Cooney T. 2003. Immunohistological detection of relaxin binding to anterior cruciate ligaments. Orthopedics. 26:1201-1204.

Galey S., Lubahn J., Ivance D., Konieczko E., Arnold C., and Cooney T. 2001. Immunohistochemical detection of relaxin binding to ligaments of the thumb and knee. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Relaxin and Related Peptides, October 22-27, 2000 in Broome, Australia.  Jeffrey Tregear, Richard Ivell, Ross A. Bathgate, and John D. Wade, Eds, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp. 421-424.

Konieczko, E.M., and J. M. Crawford. 1999. Tropic effects of taurocholate on the bile secretory phenotype of WIF-B hepatoma cells. FALK Symposium 108: Bile Acids and Cholestasis. G. Paumgartner, A. Stiehl, W. Gerok, D. Keppler, U. Leuschner, Eds. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp.166-171.

Konieczko, E.M., A.K. Ralston, A.C. Crawford, S.J. Karpen, and J.M. Crawford. 1998. Enhanced Na+-dependent bile salt uptake by WIF-B cells, a rat hepatoma hybrid cell line, following growth in the presence of a physiological bile salt. Hepatology, 27 (1):191-199.

Valentijn, J.A., D. Sengupta, F.D. Gumkowski, L.H. Tang, E.M. Konieczko, and J.D. Jamieson. 1996. Rab3D localizes to secretory granules in rat pancreatic acinar cells. Eur. J. Cell Biol. 70:33-41.

Konieczko, E.M., P.A. Whitaker-Dowling, and C.C. Widnell. 1994.  Membrane fusion as a determinant of the infectibility of cells by vesicular stomatitis virus. Virology. 199:200-211.

Jena, B.P., F.D. Gumkowski, E.M. Konieczko, G. Fischer von Mollard, R. Jahn, and J.D. Jamieson. 1994. Redistribution of a rab3-like GTP-binding protein from secretory granules to the Golgi complex in pancreatic acinar cells during regulated exocytosis.  J. Cell Biol. 124:43-53.  

Pasternak, C.A., J.E.J. Aiyathurai, V. Makinde, A. Davies, S.A. Baldwin, E.M. Konieczko, and C.C. Widnell. 1991. Regulation of glucose uptake by stressed cells. J. Cell Physiol. 149:324-331.


My research lab investigates two main projects, both involving the hormones relaxin and estrogen.  Relaxin, a peptide hormone traditionally associated with pregnancy, has recently been identified as having an effect on collagen turnover, specifically to inhibit collagen synthesis while simultaneously enhancing collagen breakdown through the activation of matrix metalloproteinases.  It is found in both women and men, as is the more familiar steroid hormone estrogen.  This hormone is responsible for the secondary sexual characteristics of women and plays a fundamental role in female sexuality and reproduction.

The first project is being done in collaboration with Dr. John Lubahn and Mr. Tim Cooney.  A summary of this project: Female athletes injure their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) up to six times more than male athletes. There are numerous risks for the injury but one of the most controversial risks includes hormonal influences causing structural changes. Estrogen’s role has already been well established in the structure of the collagen of the ACL; while the hormone relaxin which acts on connective tissues of the pubic symphysis, uterus, and cervix to increase the flexibility for successful parturition is another possibility for structural changes. This study also used the volar oblique ligament (VOL) of the hand, which often becomes damaged and non-functional in postmenopausal women. The main goal of this research project was grow cells from tiny pieces of the ligaments, called explants, and to discover the identity of those cells.  We have established through immunocytochemical staining that the cells grown from the explants are fibroblasts. Subsequently, this study looked at the localization of relaxin receptors on these fibroblast derived from ACLs or VOLs, and to compare it to the localization of estrogen receptors. Explants were taken from male and female patients ranging from ages 16-67 and immunofluorescent staining was performed on cells generated from the explants. Results showed that both estrogen and relaxin receptors localized to the cultured fibroblasts, with relaxin and estrogen receptors having similar staining patterns. This suggests that both hormones affect ACLs through similar mechanisms.  Currently, we are examining the effects of growth in both estrogen and/or relaxin on the structure of the fibroblasts.  Two types of experiments will be done in the next few months: time frame experiments (incubation at 24, 48 or 96 hours) and dose response experiments (different concentrations of both hormones).

The second project is being done in collaboration with Dr. Justine Schober and Mr. Tim Cooney.   A summary of this project:
One disadvantage of surgical procedures is the formation of aesthetically unpleasant scars resulting from the healing process. Keratinocytes are the cells within the epidermis responsible for scar formation. Previous work from our lab has demonstrated the presence of both relaxin and estrogen receptors on keratinocyte membranes and in the cytosol of these cells4.  This study will use primary epidermal keratinocytes derived from normal, human neonatal foreskin. This cell line, commercially available from the American Type Culture Collection (Cat. PCS-200-101) will be grown with or without estrogen and/or relaxin. To examine the effects of chronic exposure to hormones, cells will be grown for seven days in the presence or absence of 20 ug/ml estrogen or 100 pg/ml relaxin (physiological concentrations), and then fixed with formalin and permeabilized with methanol. Cells will also be grown in the absence or presence of both hormones. Fixed and/or permeablized cells will be subsequently incubated with primary antibodies directed against the receptors for relaxin or estrogen, another peptide hormone, and then with secondary antibodies conjugated to rhodamine or fluoresceine. Cells will also be stained with rhodamine-phalloidin to visualize actin, a cytoskeletal marker protein. All immunostained cells will be analyzed using confocal microscopy. We hypothesize that growth in exogenous hormones will down regulate the presence of hormones on the plasma membrane and in the cytosol.


  • Habitat for Humanity, Erie, PA Affiliate; Family Selection Committee (2009- present) ; Chair, Family Selection Committee (2010 - 2013; 2015 - present); Board Member (2013 - present)
  • Crime Victim Center, Erie PA, Board Member (2012-present)