Research Training Program

A researcher reviewing a slide with a student.

Training program: Molecular Basis of Skin/Mucosa Pathobiology

The OHSU Department of Dermatology has a strong history of clinical and scientific research and a 60-year record in training investigative dermatologists. This program provides pre- 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 training program features unique didactic offerings through the Department of Dermatology, as well as through seminars and journal clubs through faculty departments. Participants should desire an academic career in basic or translational research in cancer or investigative dermatology using surface epithelial models and can expect to receive training toward independence in research with a strong clinical translational component.

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.

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

Sudarshan Anand, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
mRNA, tumor microenvironment, cell engineering

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

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

Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D.
Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, Dermatology, 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

Brian Druker, M.D.
Knight Cancer Institute
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma

Arup Indra, Ph.D.
Dermatology, OHSU; 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
Innate immune response in psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and cancer

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

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
Cancer stem cell-immune cell crosstalk in tumor-promoting niche development; transcriptional regulation of therapy-resistant, cancer stem cells of squamous cell carcinoma

Rajan Kulkarni, M.D., Ph.D.
Dermatology, CEDAR, Biomedical Engineering
Circulating tumor cells (lung, melanoma, prostate); immune-related adverse events

Sophia Bornstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2007 – 2008
Project: Role of Smad4 in HNSCC tumorigenesis
Mentor: Xiao-Jing Wang (former faculty)

Marcus Calkins, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2011 – 2013
Project: Activation of base excision repair for ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage
Mentors: Lloyd & McCullough

Tim Carey, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2016
Project: Role of USP36 in skin inflammation and cancer
Mentor: Dai

Evan Carpenter, Ph.D. Candidate
Predoctoral trainee, 2018 – 2019
Project: The role of thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1) in melanocyte homeostasis
Mentors: Indra & Cassidy

Daniel Coleman, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2012 – 2013
Project: Functional signaling between keratinocytes and melanocytes altered during UV induced melanomagenesis
Mentor: Indra

Paige Davies, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2004 – 2005, 2006 – 2007
Project: Role of Wnt and Notch signaling pathways in IBD disease pathology and re-establishment of epithelial homeostasis
Mentor: Wong

Nathaniel Evans, Ph.D. Candidate
Predoctoral trainee, 2019 – 2020
Project: Improving drug response predictions to support precision oncology
Mentor: McWeeney

Amy Farrell, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2008 – 2010
Project: Role of altered c-Myc phosphorylation and stability in the generation of SCC
Mentor: Sears

Erin Fitch Foster, M.D., Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2007 – 2008
Project: Role of interleukin (IL)-23 in psoriasis and cancer
Mentors: Andrew Blauvelt (former faculty) & Jacoby

Jayme Gallegos, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2004 – 2005
Project: Regulation of the transcription factor p63   
Mentor: Shi-Long Lu (former faculty)

Gloria Garcia, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2013 – 2014
Project: Function of vitamin D receptor in UV induced homeostasis and melanocyte melanomagenesis
Mentor: Indra 

Dan Gareau, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2009 – 2011
Project: Advancing skin cancer detection by microscopy
Mentor: Steven Jacques (former faculty)

Charlie Gast, M.D., Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2016
Project: Cancer-macrophage fusion as a mechanism for metastases
Mentors: Coussens & Wong

Cecil Gomes, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2018 – 2019
Project: Complement C5a in squamous carcinogenesis
Mentor: Coussens

Sean Gross, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2013 – 2014
Project: Biasing stem cell fate through IGF/AKT pathway
Mentor: Peter Rotwein (former faculty)

David Halladin, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2017
Project: Non-genetic mechanisms in tumor progression in a murine model of squamous cell carcinoma
Mentors: Oshimori & Coussens

 

Clayton Hudson, Ph.D. Candidate
Predoctoral trainee, 2019 – 2020
Project: A microRNA-target network in endothelial DNA damage and angiogenesis
Mentor: Anand

Stephen Hyter, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2011 – 2012
Project: Cooperative effects of keratinocytic RXRa and activated CDK4 in carcinogen induced melanomagenesis
Mentor: Indra

Jodi Johnson, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2004 – 2007
Project: 
The p53 family interacting pathways in carcinogenesis and cellular response to DNA damage
Mentor: Kulesz-Martin

Chelsey Kline, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2018
Project: Genetic determinants of antioxidant response in human melanocytes—effects on efficacy of melanoma chemoprevention agents
Mentors: Leachman & Cassidy

Ryan Lane, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2019
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
Mentors: Amanda Lund (former faculty) & McCarty

Trevor Levin, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2008 – 2011
Project: Cancer stem cells: expression patterns and disease prognosis
Mentor: Wong

Yanping Li, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2010
Project: The role of Rap1 in nuclear transport
Mentor: Stork

Chris Loo, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2016
Project: T lymphocyte modulation of PD-L1 expression on lymphatic vessels and the consequent localized adaptive immune response in melanoma
Mentors: Amanda Lund (former faculty) & Coussens

Quentin Low, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2006 – 2007
Project: Rap1 and adhesion
Mentor: Stork

Olivia Lucero, M.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2018 – 2020

Project: Genomic and functional screening approaches toward the identification of mechanistic and novel therapeutic targets in CTCL
Mentor: Druker

Stephen Malkoski, M.D., Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2005 – 2006
Project:
Mechanisms by which defective TGF-beta signaling leads to the development of lung squamous cell carcinoma
Mentor: Xiao-Jing Wang (former faculty)

Terry Medler, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2012 – 2014
Project: Role and functional consequences of CD8+ T cells in regulating the vascular (re)programming of angiogenic signaling pathways in neoplastic skin
Mentor: Coussens 

Marcus Monroe, M.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2010
Project: Cancer stem cell expression and its relationship to head and neck prognosis
Mentor: Wong

Phil Owens, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2005 – 2007
Project: Smad4 functions in the skin 
Mentor: Xiao-Jing Wang (former faculty)

Elyse Paterson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2018
Project: Mechanisms of melanoma invasion and metastasis
Mentor: Courtneidge

Carey Phelps, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2015 – 2017
Project: Spatiotemporal regulation of drug-induced dimerization of Raf isoforms in melanoma
Mentors: Nan & Stork

Kevin Phillips, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2008 – 2010
Project: Application of novel optical methods use in imaging cancers, inflammatory responses and wound healing
Mentor: Steven Jacques (former faculty)

Quinn Roth-Carter, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2016 – 2018
Project: Eosinophil and sensory nerve interactions in the immune response
Mentor: Jacoby

Michael Siegel, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2013 – 2014
Project: Correlative electron and fluorescence microscopy to study cell signaling in cancer
Mentor: Steven Jacques (former faculty)

Alain Silk, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2012
Project:
 Tumor cell fusion in cancer progression
Mentor: Wong

Nick Smith, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2011 – 2014
Project: Investigating the role of the stem cell niche marker CD166 in intestinal homeostasis
Mentor: Wong

Maria Steele, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2017 – 2019
Project: Determining the kinetics of intratumoral T cell egress and the molecular mechanisms governing lymphocyte egress in melanoma microenvironments
Mentor: Amanda Lund (former faculty)

Erin Harper Stevens, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2005 – 2008
Project: Involvement of IL-23 and the Th17 T cell immune response in human cutaneous inflammatory disease
Mentor: Andrew Blauvelt (former faculty)

Sara Tokarz, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2006 – 2007
Project: 
Collaboration between Skp2 and c-Myc in epithelial carcinogenesis
Mentor: Sears

Garth Tormoen, M.D., Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2011 – 2012
Project: Characterization of the physical parameters of epithelial cells as a function of malignant progression
Mentor: McCarty

James Tucker, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2019
Project: 
Analysis of TGF-beta-induced gene expression in treatment-resistant, stem-like tumor cells
Mentors: Oshimori & Kulesz-Martin

Meghan Lindauer Vyleta, Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2008 – 2009
Project: The role of alveolar macrophages in the inflammatory response in lung epithelium
Mentor: Bruce Magun (former faculty)

Josh Walker, M.D., Ph.D.
Predoctoral trainee, 2010 – 2011
Project: Characterization, and optimization of CD8+ T cell responses to inactivated viral antigens
Mentor: Slifka 

Cortny Williams, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral trainee, 2007 – 2009
Project: Role of T cells in TGF-beta 1 mediated skin inflammation
Mentor: Xiao-Jing Wang (former faculty)

Aaron Wortham, M.S.
Predoctoral trainee, 2012 – 2015
Project: Role of Trim32 in squamous cell carcinoma
Mentor: Kulesz-Martin

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