Molly F. Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D.

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No matter how much we discover about the fascinating workings of the human body, there is always more to know and more we can do for people suffering from diseases. This fact motivates me to pursue my research. I am interested in the molecules responsible for cell survival and maturation into the exquisitely functional inside and outside surfaces of the body. These cells are the sources of most human cancers, including those that are the most difficult to treat. Early in my career as a researcher, I found ways to mimic the process of cancer development outside the body and to identify cancer precursor cells before they became visible as a tumor. As an established researcher, it is a special privilege for me to build upon this earlier work with young scientists at OHSU, engaging their passion and skills for discovery in projects that will help us better understand how cancers develop and how to treat cancer patients more successfully. Using tools provided at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, my team and I have identified specific changes that occur in the molecular progression to cancer and metastasis. These include alterations in enzymes that "tag" tumor suppressing proteins and determine not only their lifetime in the cell but also the lifetime of the cell as a whole. If these tagging proteins are altered, abnormal cells can survive and even thrive under stress from carcinogens and inflammation, outgrowing normal boundaries and ignoring regulatory cues from neighboring cells.

Selected Publications

"B cells regulate macrophage phenotype and response to chemotherapy in squamous carcinomas," Cancer Cell (Vol: 25, Issue: 6, Page 809-821) - 2014

"Hybrid capture 2 is as effective as pcr testing for high-risk human papillomavirus in head and neck cancers," Diagnostic Molecular Pathology - 2014

"Montagna symposium 2013-light and skin: How light sustains, damages, treats, images and modifies skin biology," Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Vol: 134, Issue: 8, Page 2064-2067) - 2014

"A molecular case report: Functional assay of tyrosine kinase inhibitors in cells from a patient's primary renal cell carcinoma," Cancer Biology and Therapy (Vol: 14, Issue: 2, Page 95-99) - 2013

"Montagna symposium 2012: Keeping it all together - Adhesion, the cytoskeleton, and signaling in morphogenesis and tissue function," Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Vol: 133, Issue: 5, Page 1124-1128) - 2013



  Email Molly Kulesz-Martin

503 418-4273

Memberships & Associations

American Association for Cancer Research
Society for Investigative Dermatology
Associate Editor and Member of Editorial Board: Carcinogenesis, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Molecular and Cellular Differentiation
Charter Member, Cancer Molecular Pathobiology Committee
Other National Institutes of Health technical review committees
Director, Montagna Symposium on the Biology of the Skin