Skip to main content

Donald E. Ayer, Ph.D.

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments: Oncological Sciences - Professor

Academic Office Information


Research Interests

  • Myc
  • MondoA
  • Thioredoxin Interacting Protein
  • Transcription
  • Nutrient Sensing
  • Cancer Metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Glutaminolysis

Donald Ayer, PhD, is an investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and a professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah (U of U). He is a member of the Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation Program.

Ayer is a leader in the area of gene regulation and its role in normal and cancer cell growth. His research focuses on how cells regulate a transcription factor known as Myc, which is mutated in a wide variety of cancers. In normal cells, Myc is responsible for turning on the genes that are required for cell division. In cancer cells, Myc is "hyperactive" and causes cells to divide continuously, creating excess, unnecessary cells that form a tumor. Ayer's research group investigates how Myc functions in normal and cancer cells, and they work to increase the understanding of basic gene control mechanisms. This information could greatly improve cancer diagnosis methods and treatment.

Ayer, a native of Michigan, earned a PhD in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Colorado. From 1989 to 1995, he received additional training under the direction of Robert Eisenman, PhD, a National Academy of Science member, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. In 1995, he was recruited to the U of U and HCI.

Education History

Postdoctoral Fellowship Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training University of Colorado
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Undergraduate University of Michigan
Cellular and Molecular Biology