Research Training Program

A researcher reviewing a slide with a student.

Training program: Molecular Basis of Skin/Mucosa Pathobiology

Three  positions for recent Ph.D.s, M.D.,Ph.D.s or M.D.s who are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents are open each year in an NIH-funded program for training highly qualified candidates for academic careers in basic and translational research in skin diseases, including cancer and psoriasis. The OHSU Department of Dermatology has a strong history of clinical and scientific research and a 40-year record in training dermatology residents including physician scientists and postdoctoral scientists on the path to independence.

This program provides predoctoral and postdoctoral training opportunities for careers as academic scientists and clinician-scientists committed to innovative research on cancer and inflammation of skin, head & neck, and intestinal epithelia with an impact on understanding causes and improving future treatment of muco-cutaneous diseases and providing more effective patient care.

The vast majority of human cancers arise in the epithelium. Our training program is centered on interactive pathways in cancer and inflammation that are shared in three epithelial linings: skin, head and neck, and intestine. At the cellular level, all these organs express characteristic intermediate filaments (keratins) specific to each site, and share basic rules of growth, differentiation, death signaling and transcriptional programming that are compromised in cancer. Skin is the most accessible organ of the body, offering opportunities to follow pathological development from the earliest stages.

Dermatology is by nature interdisciplinary, involving multiple cell types (epithelial, stromal, endothelial and immune cells) and multiple treatment approaches (medical, genetic, immunological and surgical). Our program, while based in the Department of Dermatology, gathers mentors from the departments of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Molecular & Medical Genetics, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Biology Program. Our mentors offer core research resources and cross-disciplinary tools, including specialized cell culture of keratinocytes and dendritic cells; isolation, separation and molecular profiling of human mucosa/skin tissue; transgenic, knock-in and knock-out mice; and non-invasive real-time imaging of developing cancers and stromal changes.

The training program includes:

  • Seminars and journal club meetings in mentors’ departments:
    • Dermatology
    • Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
    • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    • Molecular & Medical Genetics
    • Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
  • Dermatology Research Division lab meetings and symposia
  • Research forums tailored to postdoctoral students
  • Travel to national/international meetings in cutaneous biology

Successful candidates desiring an academic career in basic or translational research in cancer or investigative dermatology using surface epithelial models can expect to receive training toward independence in research with a strong clinical translational component. Criteria will include potential for independence, letters of recommendation, publications and potential for basic or translational research impact in human epithelial health and diseases. OHSU is an equal opportunity employer; we encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds that may be underrepresented in academics and science.

The core of Dermatology faculty includes:

A multidisciplinary network of scientists with international recognition in areas highly relevant to epithelial cell fate, development and diseases, including:

  • Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D., (molecular and cellular pathways regulating cancer-associated inflammation accompanying solid tumor development)
  • Rosalie Sears, Ph.D., (cancer genetics regulating the c-Myc oncoprotein in head & neck and skin SCC)
  • Philip Stork, M.D., (Ras and B-Raf signaling in growth and apoptosis)

Molly Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D. - Program Director
Dermatology, Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
E-3 ligases in skin carcinogenesis, tumor suppressor p53, p73

Pamela Cassidy, Ph.D.
Dermatology
Melanoma, chemoprevention, and translational research

Sara Courtneidge, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
Cancer metastasis

Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, Knight Cancer Institute
Molecular and cellular pathways regulating cancer-associated inflammation accompanying solid tumor development

Mu-Shui Dai, M.D., Ph.D.
Molecular & Medical Genetics
p53 tumor suppression;c-Myc oncogenic pathways

Arup Indra, Ph.D.
Adjunct Associate Professor of Dermatology, OHSU; Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Oregon State University
Transcriptional regulation of skin organogenesis, chemical and physical carcinogen (UV) induced melanomagenesis, AD pathogenesis

David B. Jacoby, M.D.
Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Eosinophil-nerve interactions in inflammatory pathways; airway TLRs

Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D.
Dermatology, Knight Cancer Institute
Genetic predisposition and prevention of melanoma

Yuangang Liu, Ph.D.
Dermatology

R. Stephen Lloyd, Ph.D.
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
DNA repair mechanisms

Amanda Lund, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, Dermatology
Role of lymphatic vessels in immune response to tumorigenesis, tumor microenvironment, and potential as targets for therapy

Owen J.T. McCarty, Ph.D. 
Biomedical Engineering
Circulating tumor cell biology

Amanda McCullough, Ph.D.
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
DNA repair, UV-induced skin cancer, oxidative stress

Shannon K. McWeeney, Ph.D. 
Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Public Health & Preventive Medicine
Development and application of statistical and computational methodologies for functional genomics data

Ashlee V. Moses, Ph.D.
Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Kaposi's Sarcoma, cKIT, HHV8 virology & pathobiology

Rosalie C. Sears, Ph.D.
Molecular & Medical Genetics
Cancer genetics, regulating the c-Myc oncoprotein in head & neck and skin SCC

Mark K. Slifka, Ph.D.
Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, National Primate Research Center
T cell and B cell-mediated immunity, memory cells in cancer

Philip J.S. Stork, M.D.
Vollum Institute
Ras and B-Raf signaling in growth and apoptosis

Melissa Wong, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, Dermatology
Beta-catenin pathway, tumor stem cells of intestinal mucosa

Associate Mentors:

Xiaolin Nan, Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering
Spatial and temporal organization of biological molecules; novel imaging tools for localizing and tracking biological molecules at the nanometer and single-molecule scales

Naoki Oshimori, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
Dermatology, Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery

Current Trainees:

Evan Carpenter, Ph.D. candidate
Training grant project: The role of thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1) inmelanocyte homeostasis
Training grant mentor: Arup Indra
Current position: Ph.D. Candidate, Indra and Cassidy Labs
Place: OSU College of Pharmacy; OHSU Department of Dermatology

Cecil Gomes, Ph.D.
Training grant mentor: Coussens
Current position: Postdoctoral Scholar, Coussens Lab
Place: OHSU Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Ryan Lane, Ph.D. candidate
Training grant project: Role of lymphatic endothelial cells within melanoma tumors, in tumor tolerance by the immune system, and as potential clinical therapeutic targets for treatment of melanoma and possible biomarkers for risk stratification
Training grant mentor: Coussens/Lund
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Lund Lab
Place: OHSU Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Olivia Lucero, M.D.
Training grant project: Genomic and functional screening approaches toward the identification ofmechanistic and novel therapeutic targets in CTCL
Training grant mentor: Druker
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Druker Lab; Dermatology resident
Place: OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Department of Dermatology

Maria Steele, Ph.D.
Training grant project: Determining the kinetics of intratumoral T cell egress and the molecularmechanisms governing lymphocyte egress in melanoma microenvironments
Training grant mentor: Lund
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Lund Lab
Place: OHSU Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Chelsey Kline, Ph.D.
Training grant project: Genetic determinants of antioxidant response in human melanocytes—effects on efficacy of melanoma chemoprevention agents
Training grant mentor: Cassidy
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Leachman/Cassidy lab
Place: OHSU Department of Dermatology

Elyse Paterson, Ph.D.
Training grant project: Mechanisms of melanoma invasion and metastasis
Training grant mentor: Courtneidge
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Courtneidge Lab
Place: OHSU Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Quinn Roth-Carter, Ph.D. candidate
Training grant project: Eosinophil and sensory nerve interactions in the immune response
Training grant mentor: Jacoby
Current position: Predoctoral trainee, Jacoby Lab
Place: OHSU Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

Sophia Bornstein, M.D., Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of Smad4 in HNSCC tumorigenesis
Training grant mentor: Wang (former mentor)
Current position: Physician Scientist
Place: OHSU Department of Radiation Medicine

Marcus Calkins, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Activation of base excision repair for ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage
Training grant mentor: Lloyd
Current position: Assistant Professor, Institute of Clinical Medicine
Place: National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

Tim Carey, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of USP36 in skin inflammation and cancer
Training grant mentor: Dai
Current position: Scientist
Place: MPI Research

Daniel Coleman, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Functional signaling between keratinocytes and melanocytes altered during UV induced melanomagenesis
Training grant mentor: Indra
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Alumkal lab
Place: OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Paige Davies, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of Wnt and Notch signaling pathways in IBD disease pathology and re-establishment of epithelial homeostasis
Training grant mentor: Wong
Current position: Science writer

Amy Farrell, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of altered c-Myc phos-phorylation and stability in the generation of SCC
Training grant mentor: Sears

Erin Fitch Foster, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of interleukin (IL)-23 in psoriasis and cancer
Training grant mentor: Blauvelt (former mentor)
Current position: Resident
Place: Oregon Health and Science University

Jayme Gallegos, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Regulation of the transcription factor p63   

Training grant mentor: Kulesz-Martin 
Current position: Assistant Professor, Chiropractic Program
Place: University of Western States

Gloria Garcia, Ph.D. candidate

Training grant project: Function of vitamin D receptor in UV induced homeostasis and melanocyte melanomagenesis
Training grant mentor: Indra 
Current position: Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, Tanguay Lab
Place: Oregon State University

Dan Gareau, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Advancing skin cancer detection by microscopy
Training grant mentor: Jacques
Current position: Instructor in Clinical Investigation
Place: Rockefeller University Laboratory of Investigative Dermatology

Charlie Gast, M.D./Ph.D. candidate

Training grant project: Cancer-macrophage fusion as a mechanism for metastases
Training grant mentor: Gast/Wong
Current position: Coussens predoctoral trainee, Wong Lab
Place: Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Sean Gross, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Biasing stem cell fate through IGF/AKT pathway
Training grant mentor: Rotwein (former mentor)
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Gray Lab
Place: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Stephen Hyter, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Cooperative effects of keratinocytic RXRa and activated CDK4 in carcinogen induced melanomagenesis
Training grant mentor: Indra
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Godwin Lab
Place: University of Kansas Medical Center

Jodi Johnson, Ph.D.

Training grant project: The p53 family interacting pathways in Jodi and cellular response to DNA damage carcinogenesis
Training grant mentor: Kulesz-Martin
Current position: Research Assistant Professor, Green Lab
Place: Northwestern University School of Medicine

Trevor Levin, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Cancer stem cells: expression patterns and disease prognosis
Training grant mentor: Wong
Current position: Chief Executive Officer
Place: Urology Diagnostics

Yanping Li, Ph.D.

Training grant project: The role of Rap1 in nuclear transport
Training grant mentor: Stork

Chris Loo, Ph.D.

Training grant project: T lymphocyte modulation of PD-L1 expression on lymphatic vessels and the consequent localized adaptive immune response in melanoma
Training grant mentor: Loo/Lund
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Lind Lab
Place: Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology

Quentin Low, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Rap1 and adhesion
Training grant mentor: Stork
Current position: Staff Scientist
Place: Thermo Fisher Scientific

Stephen Paul Malkoski, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Mechanisms by which defective Malkoski signaling leads to the development of lung TGFbeta squamous cell carcinoma 
Training grant mentor: Wang (former mentors)
Current position: Associate Professor
Place: University of Colorado Denver Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Sciences & Critical Care Medicine

Terry Medler, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role and functional consequences of CD8+ T cells in regulating the vascular (re)programming of signaling pathways in neoplastic skin angiogenic
Training grant mentor: Coussens 
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher
Place: Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Marcus Monroe, M.D.

Training grant project: Cancer stem cell expression and its relationship to head and neck prognosis
Training grant mentor: Wong
Current position: Assistant Professor
Place: University of Utah, Division of Otolaryngology

Phil Owens, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Smad4 functions in the skin 
Training grant mentor: Martin
Current position: Research Assistant Professor
Place: Vanderbilt University, Division of Cancer Biology

Carey Phelps, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Spatiotemporal regulation of drug-induced dimerization of Raf isoforms in melanoma
Training grant mentor: Stork/Nan
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Nan Lab
Place: OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
 

Kevin Phillips, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Application of novel optical methods use in imaging cancers, inflammatory responses and wound healing
Training grant mentor: Jacques
Current position: Data Operations Engineer
Place: Urology Diagnostics

Michael Siegel, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Correlative electron and fluorescence microscopy to study cell signaling in cancer
Training grant mentor: Jacques
Current position: Senior Vice President, Research and Clinical Affairs
Place: National Psoriasis Foundation

Alain Silk, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Tumor cell fusion in cancer progression
Training grant mentor: Wong
Current position: Reviewer
Place: US Food and Drug Administration

Nick Smith, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Investigating the role of the stem cell niche marker CD166 in intestinal homeostasis
Training grant mentor: Wong
Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Wong Lab
Place: Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Erin Harper Stevens, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Involvement of IL-23 and the Th17 T cell immune response in human OHSU cutaneous inflammatory disease 
Training grant mentor:  Blauvelt (former mentor)
Current position: Principal Scientist
Place:  Pfizer

Sara Tokarz, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Collaboration between Skp2 and Tokarz-c in epithelial Myc
Training grant mentor: Sears

Garth Tormoen, M.D., Ph.D.

Training grant project: Characterization of the physical parameters of epithelial cells as a function of malignant progression
Training grant mentor: Tormoen
Current position: Resident
Place: Department of Radiation Medicine

Meghan Lindauer Vyleta, Ph.D.

Training grant project: The role of alveolar macrophages in the inflammatory response in lung epithelium
Training grant mentor: Magun (former mentor)

Joshua Walker, M.D., Ph.D.

Training grant project: Characterization, and optimization of CD8+ T cell responses to inactivated viral antigens
Training grant mentor: Slifka 
Current position: Resident
Place: OHSU, Department of Radiation Medicine

Cortny Williams, Ph.D.

Training grant project: Role of T cells in TGFb1 mediated skin inflammation
Training grant mentor: Wang (former mentor)
Current position: Assistant Professor, Chiropractic Program
Place: University of Western States

Aaron Wortham, M.S.

Training grant project: Role of Trim32 in squamous cell carcinoma
Training grant mentor: Kulesz-Martin
Current position: Research Assistant
Place: Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Two predoctoral and three postdoctoral trainees who desire an academic career in investigative dermatology or basic skin/mucosa research with a strong clinical translational component will be selected. Criteria will include potential for independence, letters of recommendation, publication record and evidence of potential for impact in dermatology.

To apply please e-mail cover letter, statement of research (current and future interests and aims), CV and three letters of reference to Molly Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D., at dermtraining@ohsu.edu. Applications are accepted continuously. Note: To be eligible for a predoctoral slot, candidates must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program at OHSU.  To be eligible for a postdoctoral slot, candidates must first identify mentor(s) in our program and join their lab(s).

Trainees supported by this training grant must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants from diverse backgrounds that may be underrepresented in academics and science are especially encouraged to apply. Postdoctoral stipends are paid at standard NIH levels, predoctoral stipends at OHSU graduate research assistant levels. For more information contact:

Skin/Mucosa Research Training Program
Dept. of Dermatology, L468R
Oregon Health & Science University
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, Ore. 97239-3098
Voice: 503 418-4273
Fax: 503 418-4266
E-mail: dermtraining@ohsu.edu