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Martin McMahon, Ph.D.

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments: Dermatology - Professor, Oncological Sciences - Adjunct Professor

Academic Office Information

Academic Bio

Martin McMahon, PhD

Cumming-Presidential Chair of Cancer Biology

Senior Director for Preclinical Translation

Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program

Dr. Martin McMahon was awarded a Ph.D. from King’s College, University of London, for studies on the mechanism of interferon action conducted with Drs. Ian Kerr and George Stark at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (London, UK) and Stanford University (Stanford, CA). In 1985, he joined J. Michael Bishop’s laboratory in the Hooper Foundation of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as a post-doctoral fellow to study oncogenic protein kinases. In 1991, he established an independent research group at the DNAX Research Institute (now Merck Research Labs, Palo Alto, CA) working on RAF protein kinases. From 1991-1998, Dr. McMahon pioneered the use of a new class of conditional oncoproteins to dissect the corrupting events that lead normal cells to develop aberrant properties of lethal cancer. In 1998, he was recruited to the faculty of the Cancer Research Institute of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center where he served as the Efim Guzik Distinguished Professor of Cancer Biology, Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program and Director for Professional Education. In 2015, he joined the faculty of the Department of Dermatology and the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah, as the Cumming-Presidential Professor of Cancer Biology and the Senior Director for Preclinical Translation.

Research: Dr. McMahon’s translational cancer research program focuses on the mechanisms underlying the development of metastatic melanoma, lung and thyroid cancer. Although these malignancies are derived from distinct cell types, they share a striking number of common genetic alterations especially activating mutations in KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA or CTNNB1 (-catenin). In addition, many of these tumors display alterations in tumor suppressors such as CDKN2A, PTEN or TP53. To do this, Dr. McMahon’s laboratory works with cultured human cancer-derived cells and with genetically engineered mouse models of human cancer. Such model systems have demonstrated considerable value in the design and evaluation of new diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools to treat patients with cancer.

Teaching: Since establishing an independent research laboratory in 1991, Dr. McMahon has mentored over 50 undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral or clinical fellows in his lab, most of whom have gone on to successful careers either in academia or the private sector. As a UCSF faculty member, Dr. McMahon was a member of three graduate programs: Tetrad; Biomedical Sciences (BMS) and; Chemistry & Chemical Biology (CCB) and served as Co-Director of the BMS graduate program for five years. As a member of these graduate programs he participated in numerous qualifying exams and thesis committees and as a presenter or student mentor in Research-In-Progress, Project Proposal and Journal Club forums. In his own research lab at UCSF, he hosted over 30 rotation students and had six full-time thesis students, of whom four have graduated with the award of a Ph.D. Dr. McMahon participated in numerous graduate level courses at UCSF and served as course organizer for the yearly cancer elective, “Advanced Topics in Cancer Research” and lead-organizer of a yearly minicourse, “Principles and Implications of Oncogene Addiction”. These courses focused on cancer cell signaling, models of cancer, pharmacological inhibition of signaling pathways and regulation of the cell division cycle or apoptosis.

Service: Dr. McMahon has served on numerous study sections including the NIH Basic Mechanisms of Cancer Therapy (Ad hoc, Chartered Member and Chair, 2006-2015) and Basic Cancer Research (BCR)-1 of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT, 2013-date). He has served on the editorial board of Molecular Cancer Research, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research. He has organized a number of international conferences including the 2000 Oncogene Meeting (Frederick, MD) and the 2015 Annual Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research (San Francisco, CA), an academic organization of which Dr. McMahon is the current President.

Education History

Postdoctoral Fellowship G.W. Hooper Research Foundation, University of California,
J. Michael Bishop PhD, Cancer, virology, genetics
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training King's College, London - Ian M. Kerr, PhD (Research done at Stanford University and ICRF)
Undergraduate University of Glasgow - Roy H. Burdon PhD
B.Sc. (Hons)

Global Impact