Headshot photo of Molly F. Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D.

Molly F. Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Dermatology, School of Medicine
  • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine
  • Cancer Biology Graduate Program, School of Medicine


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.

Education and training

  • Fellowship

    • Staff Fellowship, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1979-1981

Memberships and associations:

  • American Association for Cancer Research



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