Photo of Molly F. Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D.

Molly F. Kulesz-Martin Ph.D.

  • (503) 418-4273
    • 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.

  • Fellowship:

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

Memberships and associations

  • American Association for Cancer Research


  • "Signaling to structures" Journal of Investigative Dermatology May 2007
  • "Keratinocyte-specific Smad2 ablation results in increased epithelial-mesenchymal transition during skin cancer formation and progression" Journal of Clinical Investigation August 1 2008
  • "Highlights of clinician/scientist translational discussion session" Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings September 2006
  • "Montagna symposium 2011" Journal of Investigative Dermatology May 2012
  • "RING protein Trim32 associated with skin carcinogenesis has anti-apoptotic and E3-ubiquitin ligase properties" Carcinogenesis February 2004
  • "Differentially expressed protein Pdcd4 inhibits tumor promoter-induced neoplastic transformation" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America November 23 1999
  • "DNA binding specificity of proteins derived from alternatively spliced mouse p53 mRNAs" Nucleic Acids Research April 1 1997
  • "Differentiation and tumor response to retinobenzoic acid RE-80 in a malignant conversion model" Cancer Epidemiology  1995
  • "P53 regulation and function in normal cells and tumors" Medicina  2000
  • "p53 protein at the hub of cellular DNA damage response pathways through sequence-specific and non-sequence-specific DNA binding" Carcinogenesis  2001
  • "Destructive cycles" Carcinogenesis November 2004
  • "Retinoic acid enhancement of an early step in the transformation of mouse epidermal cells in vitro" Carcinogenesis September 1986
  • "The interaction of piasy with Trim32, an E3-ubiquitin ligase mutated in limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2H, promotes piasy degradation and regulates UVB-induced keratinocyte apoptosis through NFκB" Journal of Biological Chemistry September 1 2006
  • "Modulation of epidermal cell transformation by retinoic acid"   1985
  • "Global rank-invariant set normalization (GRSN) to reduce systematic distortions in microarray data" BMC Bioinformatics December 4 2008
  • "Functional quantification of DNA-binding proteins p53 and estrogen receptor in cells and tumor tissues by DNA affinity immunoblotting" Journal of Cancer Research July 15 2001
  • "Identification of a Novel Structural Variant of the α6 Integrin" Journal of Biological Chemistry July 13 2001
  • "Pemphigoid, pemphigus and desmoplakin as antigenic markers of differentiation in normal and tumorigenic mouse keratinocyte lines" Cell Proliferation  1989
  • "Formation of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine within DNA of mouse keratinocytes exposed in culture to UVB and H2O2 " Carcinogenesis November 1992
  • "The study of tumor promotion in a cell culture model for mouse skin--a tissue that exhibits multistage carcinogenesis in vivo." Carcinogenesis; a comprehensive survey  1982
  • "Montagna symposium 2012" Journal of Investigative Dermatology May 2013
  • "Organ specificity and tumor promotion." Basic Life Sciences  1983
  • "Cultured human skin" Pathobiology  1982
  • "Imaging melanoma in a murine model using reflectance-mode confocal scanning laser microscopy and polarized light imaging." Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings November 2005
  • "Tumor progression of murine epidermal cells after treatment in vitro with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate or retinoic acid" Journal of Cancer Research September 1 1991
  • "Clonal Interactions in a Human Squamous Cell Carcinoma" Journal of Surgical Research February 1995
  • "54th Annual Montagna Symposium on the Biology of Skin" Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings September 2006
  • "SPAF, a new AAA-protein specific to early spermatogenesis and malignant conversion" Oncogene March 16 2000
  • "Induced terminal differentiation and tumorigenic suppression in murine keratinocyte somatic-cell hybrids" Molecular Carcinogenesis  1995
  • "Overexpression of transforming growth factor β1 in head and neck epithelia results in inflammation, angiogenesis, and epithelial hyperproliferation" Journal of Cancer Research July 1 2004

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