Kulesz-Martin Lab

(L-R: Kulesz-Martin, Vigoda, Wang, Yoo, Liu, Mathieson)


Molly Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D. – Professor, Director of Research


Zhiping Wang, Ph.D. – Senior Research Associate
503 418-4275 

Chase Mathieson - Research Assistant
Miles Vigoda - Research Assistant
Ashley Yoo – Research Assistant

Administrative (Research Division)

Clara Stemwedel
503 418-4273


Our research springs from the OHSU-bred paradigm that cancer causes make the best targets for prevention and therapy. Human surface epithelial cells of the skin and mucosal linings of the oral cavity, nose and throat can accumulate mutations that alter cellular lifespan, impair function and impact genomic stability leading to fields of cells already initiated on the road to cancer. Skin cancers and head and neck mucosal cancers arise in these fields, and, because of their accessible location, provide a unique window into the multiple stages of cancer through its earliest development. Previous research in my lab led to the development of one of the few clonal models of normal, initiated, benign, and malignant and metastatic cells, useful for uncovering mechanisms of stage-specific tumor initiation and progression, and to the identification and functional characterization of naturally occurring alternative splice variants of the tumor suppressors p53 and p73. 

These form the background for three complementary areas of genomic and functional research on patient-derived cells in our laboratory, with our bioinformatics collaborators, which are: 
  1. Defining targetable pathways in individual patient-derived oral and skin cancers, including those impacted by inflammation
  2. Determining a high risk signature of mutation and gene expression that predicts recurrence, deep invasion and metastasis and drug sensitivities, that can be developed into a clinical test of skin and mucosal cancers that will guide patient monitoring and treatment
  3. Validating targets for prevention and therapy in patient tumor cell-derived preclinical models to expand options for effective, minimally toxic therapy tailored to each patient.

Ouyang X, Barling A, Lesch A, Tyner JW, Choonoo G, Zheng C, Jeng S, West TM, Clayburgh D, Courtneidge SA, McWeeney SK, Kulesz-Martin M. Induction of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) as a novel mechanism of EGFR inhibitor resistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patient-derived models. Cancer Biol Ther. 2018 Jun 1:1-37. doi: 10.1080/15384047.2018.1451285. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=29856687 

Blucher AS, Choonoo G, Kulesz-Martin M, Wu G, McWeeney SK. Evidence-Based Precision Oncology with the Cancer Targetome. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Dec;38(12):1085-1099. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Sep 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28964549

Tolar J, Bauer JW, Kaplan DH, Leachman SA, McGrath JA, Paller AS, Griffith-Bauer KA, Stemwedel CE, Kulesz-Martin MF. Montagna Symposium 2017-Precision Dermatology: Next Generation Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment.J Invest Dermatol. 2018 Jun;138(6):1243-1248. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.02.039. Epub 2018 May 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=29550416 

Tsujikawa T, Kumar S, Borkar RN, Azimi V, Thibault G, Chang YH, Balter A, Kawashima R, Choe G, Sauer D, El Rassi E, Clayburgh DR, Kulesz-Martin MF, Lutz ER, Zheng L, Jaffee EM, Leyshock P, Margolin AA, Mori M, Gray JW, Flint PW, Coussens LM. Quantitative Multiplex Immunohistochemistry Reveals Myeloid-Inflamed Tumor-Immune Complexity Associated with Poor Prognosis. Cell Rep. 2017 Apr 4;19(1):203-217. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.03.037. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28380359

Liu Y, Wang Z, De La Torre R, Barling A, Tsujikawa T, Hornick N, Hanifin J, Simpson E, Wang Y, Swanzey E, Wortham A, Ding H, Coussens LM, Kulesz-Martin M. Trim32 Deficiency Enhances Th2 Immunity and Predisposes to Features of Atopic Dermatitis. J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Feb;137(2):359-366. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.09.020. Epub 2016 Oct 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27720760  


Xiaoming Ouyang, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Stanford University
Stanford, Cal.

Jayme Gallegos, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Western States
Portland, Ore.

Liz Horn, Ph.D., M.B.B.I.
Principal, LCH Biosolutions
Principal Investigator, National Lyme Biorepository
Portland, Ore.

Jodi Johnson, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Departments of Pathology and Dermatology
Northwestern University
Chicago, Ill.

Chad Knights, Ph.D.
Science, Technology and Business
Northern Virginia Community College
Alexandria, Va.

Gretchen Vanderbeek, M.D.
Dermatology Associates
Portland, Ore.

Aaron Wortham, M.S.
Research Assistant, Enns lab
OHSU Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
Portland, Ore.