Ellen Langer

  • Research Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, School of Medicine
  • Member, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine
  • Genome Sciences Hub, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine
  • Integrated Cancer Biology Hub, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine


Dr. Langer received her Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University in St. Louis under the mentorship of Dr. Greg Longmore, and she completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Ken Murphy, Dr. Mario Capecchi, and Dr. Rosalie Sears. Dr. Langer’s major research interest is in the identification of molecular mechanisms that underlie cellular plasticity in both tumor and stromal cells, and how interactions between these populations impact tumorigenic phenotypes. Throughout her career, Dr. Langer has sought to understand how physiologic processes that occur during development or in response to injury are corrupted to contribute to tumor development and progression. Her early research focused on the transcriptional regulators that control epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMT) in developmental systems including Xenopus neural crest development and embryonic stem cell differentiation. During her postdoc, Dr. Langer interrogated mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity in breast cancer cells to understand how extrinsic stressors such as low nutrients or therapeutic treatments mediate changes in tumor cell phenotypes. She also led an effort to develop manipulable, heterotypic, 3D bioprinted tumor models to support investigations of how tumor-stromal crosstalk affects tumor development, progression, and response to treatment. Current work in her group utilizes 2-dimensional tissue culture, 3-dimensional bioprinted tissues, and mouse models in order to identify and target mechanisms of crosstalk between tumor cells and their microenvironment in breast and pancreatic cancer.

Education and training

    • B.S., 2001, Notre Dame
    • Ph.D., 2007, Washington University

Memberships and associations:

  • American Association of Cancer Research


Selected publications

  • Langer EM, Feng Y, Hou Z, Rauscher FJ 3rd, Kroll KL, Longmore GD.  Ajuba LIM proteins are Snail corepressors required for Xenopus neural crest development.  Developmental Cell, 2008, 14(3): 424-36. PMCID: PMC2279146
  • Lindsley RC, Gill JG, Murphy TL, Langer EM, Cai M, Mashayekhi M, Wang W, Niwa N, Nerbonne JM, Kyba M, Murphy KM.  Mesp1 coordinately regulates cardiovascular fate restriction and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in differentiating ESCs.  Cell Stem Cell, 2008, 3(1): 55-68. PMCID: PMC2497439
  • Gill JG, Langer EM, Lindsley RC, Cai M, Murphy TL, Kyba M, Murphy KM.  Snail and the miR-200 Family Act in Opposition to Regulate EMT and Germ Layer Fate Restriction in Differentiating ES Cells.  Stem Cells, 2011, 29: 764-776. PMID: 21394833
  • Gill JG, Langer EM, Lindsley RC, Cai M, Murphy TL, Murphy KM.  Snail promotes the cell-autonomous generation of Flk1(+) endothelial cells through the repression of the miR-200 family.  Stem Cells and Development, 2012, 21(2):167-76. PMID: 21861700
  • Langer EM*, Kendsersky ND, Daniel CJ, Kuziel GM, Pelz C, Murphy KM, Capecchi MR, and Sears RC*. ZEB1-repressed microRNAs inhibit autocrine signaling that promotes vascular mimicry of breast cancer cells. Oncogene, 2018, 37(8): 1005-1019. PMID: 29084210 *Co-corresponding author
  • Risom T, Langer EM, Chapman MP, Rantala J, Fields AJ, Boniface C, Alvarez MJ, Kendsersky ND, Pelz CR, Johnson-Camacho K, Dobrolecki LE, Chin K, Aswani AJ, Wang NJ, Califano A, Lewis MT, Tomlin CJ, Spellman PT, Adey A, Gray JW, Sears RC. Differentiation state plasticity is a targetable resistance mechanism in breast cancer. Nature Communications, 2018, 9: 3815. PMID: 30232459
  • Langer EM*, Allen-Petersen BL*, King SM, Kendsersky ND, Turnidge MA, Kuziel GM, Riggers R, Samatham R, Amery TS, Jacques SL, Sheppard BC, Korkola JE, Muschler JL, Thibault G, Chang YH, Gray JW, Presnell SC, Nguyen DG, Sears RC. Modeling tumor phenotypes in vitro with three-dimensional bioprinting. Cell Reports, 2019, 26: 608-623. PMID: 30650355 *Co-first author
  • Chapman MP, Risom T, Aswani A, Langer EM, Sears RC, Tomlin CJ. Modeling phenotypic state transitions that are linked to therapeutic escape in triple negative breast cancer. PLoS Computational Biology, 2019, 15(3):e1006840. PMID: 30856168
  • Cohn GM, Leifwalker DF, Langer EM*, Sears RC*. PIN1 provides dynamic control of MYC in response to extrinsic signals. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2020, 8:224. *Co-corresponding author


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