Lisa Coussens

Lisa Coussens

Professor & Chair
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology Department
Associate Director of Basic Research, Knight Cancer Institute

Pubmed Search


1980 – Biology, B.A., San Francisco State University
1993 – Biological Chemistry, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles


1981-1988 – Research Associate, Molec. & Devel. Biology, Genentech, Inc.
1997-1999 – Assistant Research Biochemist, Hormone Research Inst., UCSF
1999-2004 – Assistant Professor (in residence), Dept. of Pathology & Cancer Res. Inst., UCSF
2004-2006 – Assoc. Professor (in residence), Dept. of Pathology & Cancer Res. Inst., UCSF
2006-2007 – Associate Professor, Dept. of Pathology & Cancer Research Institute, UCSF
2007-2011 – Professor, Dept. of Pathology & Cancer Research Institute, UCSF
2007-2012 – Professor, Dept. of Pathology, UCSF
2011 – Present Professor & Chair, Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, OHSU
2011 – Present Associate Director for Basic Research, Knight Cancer Institute, OHSU
2012 – Present Adjunct Professor, University of California, San Francisco

Other Positions Held Concurrently

1989-1992 – Lecturer, Biology Dept., Whittier College
1992 – Scientific Consultant, Dept. of Legal Affairs. Genentech, Inc.
2000-2012 – Co-Director, Mouse Pathology Core, Hellen Diller Family Comp. Cancer Center
2007-2009 – Senior and Deputy Editor, Tumor Microenvironment Section, Cancer Research
2009-2012 – Co-Leader, Program in Cancer Immunity & Microenvironment. UCSF
2009-2012 – Deputy Editor, Breaking Advances. Cancer Research

Research Assistant Professors

Sushil Kumar PhD


Education: Ph.D., Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Munich, Germany, 2007

Postdoctoral training: Institute of Molecular Cancer Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 2008 - 2011; Oregon Health & Science University 2012 - 2014

Scientific interests: My scientific interests are to understand the molecular basis of tumor related inflammation and translation of this knowledge into modern cancer therapy.

Elaine Lin

Education: M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 1982; Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA., 1995

Postdoctoral training: Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, 1996 - 2001

Faculty appointments: Associate, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, 2001 - 2006; Assistant Professor: Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, 2006 - 2014.

Scientific interests: Despite improved outcomes stemming from early detection, breast cancer remains the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among American women. My research is focused on developing strategies to improve prevention and treatment by identifying host events that facilitate the progression of premalignant breast lesions to malignant disease, with particular attention to the regulation of pro-tumor and anti-tumor immune reactions and the promotion of angiogenesis in the tumor microenvironment.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Tiziana Cotechini

Education: Ph.D., Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, 2014

Scientific interests: Resistance to conventional therapies (i.e. chemotherapy, radiation therapy) remains a significant obstacle to successful cancer treatment. I am interested in exploring the biology of pro-tumorigenic, pro-metastatic myeloid cell-lymphocyte interactions within the tumor microenvironment to better understand tumor-extrinsic factors contributing to therapeutic resistance. Ultimately, a thorough understanding of the immune-mediated mechanisms associated with resistance to conventional therapies may help improve the efficacy of novel immunotherapies and identify candidates most likely to benefit from treatment.

Mahsa He

Education: Ph.D., Department of Human Genetics, University of California - Los Angeles, 2013

Scientific Interests: I'm interested in studying the tumor microenvironment and the immune regulation in pancreatic cancer development and developing novel immunotherapies to cure cancers.

Terry Medler, Ph.D.

Education: Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Northwestern University, 2012

Scientific interests: The skin acts as both a physical and immunological barrier to a barrage of environmental insults, such as UV radiation, chemical carcinogens, and oncogenic viruses. The damage response (inflammation) is mediated by both innate and adaptive immunity to clear damaged cells and pathogens such that tissue homeostasis can be restored. When inflammation fails to resolve and instead becomes chronic, it acts as a promoting force for neoplastic progression. My interests lie in identifying mechanisms by which immune cells foster cancer development such that novel targeted immunotherapies can be developed. Other interests include identifying mechanisms by which autoimmune skin disorders (pemphigus vulgaris) occur and discovering targeted immunotherapies to help ameliorate disease with fewer side effects.

Dhaarini Murugan, Ph.D.

Education: Ph.D., Molecular Medicine Program, Hannover Medical School, Germany, 2014

Scientific interests:  To assess the changes in T and B cell repertoire diversity and clonality as biomarkers to evaluate the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. To further study the antigenic specificity of selected clonotypes with the aim of designing antigen-loaded dendritic cells for cancer vaccination.

Takahiro Tsujikawa, M.D., Ph.D.

Education: M.D., Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan, 2013

Scientific interests: My research focus has been the cancer-microenvironment interactions for cancer development. My long-term goal is to develop therapeutic strategies targeting the immunological tumor microenvironment in head and neck cancer.

Graduate Students

Charlie Gast

Education: M.D., Ph.D., (in progress), Cancer Biology, Oregon Health & Science University; B.A., Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Lewis & Clark College (2006)

Scientific interests: My research interests focus on the role macrophages play in promoting the progression of cancer. Specifically, I am investigating phenotypic alterations in cancer that result from hybrid cells forming via fusion between cancer cells and macrophages. I am also testing specific immunotherapies that target macrophage function to treat metastatic disease. In my free time I enjoy hiking, skiing, brewing beer and changing diapers.

Shannon Liudahl

Education: Ph.D. (in progress), Cancer Biology, Oregon Health & Science University; B.S., Molecular Biology, Portland State University (2012)

Scientific interests: Chronic inflammation as a driver of neoplasia, pancreatitis & pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, acinar cell plasticity, pancreatic regeneration following injury

Laboratory Manager

Justin Tibbitts

Education: M.S., Biology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; M.B.A., Technology, University of New Mexico

Interests: family, cancer biology, geosciences, hockey, fishing and all things outdoors.

Laboratory Staff

Teresa Beechwood

Gina Choe

Education: B.S., Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University

Scientific interests: Immunological microenvironment in pancreatic cancer.

Patrick Flynn

Education: B.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Western Washington University

Scientific interests: Tumor associated inflammation, cancer immunotherapy, immunity regulation, autoimmunity, T cell biology

Jo Hill

Education: Drexel University College of Medicine's Master's degree program in histotechnology.

Interests: the integration of art & science, tissue ultrastructure, and the beauty of the natural world. She is particularly intrigued with cell-to-cell connections (physical and chemical), and the intricacies of the cytoskeleton.


Brian Ruffell PhD

Brian Ruffell, Ph.D.

Assistant Member, Moffitt Cancer Center, 2015
Assistant Professor, Dept of Oncologic Sciences, University of South Florida, 2015

Education: Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, 2008
Postdoctoral training: The University of California, San Francisco 2008 - 2012; Oregon Health & Science University, 2012 - 2013

Scientific interests: Immune suppression within the tumor microenvironment with the goal of improving the efficacy of chemotherapeutics and immunotherapies.