Professor Martin McMahon
Dr. Martin McMahon grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and attended Glasgow University, graduating with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 1981. As a Ph.D. student he studied mechanisms of interferon action with Drs. Ian Kerr and George Stark at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (London) and Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) and was awarded a doctorate from King’s College, University of London in 1985. He then joined J. Michael Bishop’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as a postdoctoral fellow to study mechanisms of action of oncoprotein kinases such as SRC, ERBB and RAF. In 1991 Dr. McMahon established an independent research group at the DNAX Research Institute (now Merck Research Laboratories) in Palo Alto working on the RAF family of protein kinases, which are now known to be mutationally activated in many human cancers. From 1991-1998 Dr. McMahon used a novel experimental approach to dissect the corrupting events that lead normal cells to develop aberrant properties of lethal cancer. In 1998 Dr. McMahon joined the faculty 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 University of Utah where he serves as the Cumming-Presidential Chair of Cancer Biology in the Dept. of Dermatology and the Senior Director for Preclinical Translation in the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Dr. McMahon’s translational cancer research program focuses on the mechanisms underlying the initiation, progression and maintenance of metastatic melanoma, lung and pancreatic cancer. Although these malignancies are derived from distinctly different cell types, they share a striking number of common genetic alterations, especially mutations in the KRAS or BRAF proto-oncogenes. To do this, Dr. McMahon’s laboratory uses genetically engineered mouse models, patient-derived xenografts and cultured cancer-derived cell lines. The utility of such model systems in the design and evaluation of new diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools to treat humans with cancer is now being rapidly exploited.
Current Administrative Positions: Senior Director of Preclinical Translation and Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics program, Huntsman Cancer Institute.
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, many of whom have gone on to successful careers either in academia or the private sector. At UCSF Dr. McMahon served as Co-Director of the BMS graduate program for five years and a member of the Tetrad; Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry & Chemical Biology graduate programs. At the University of Utah, Dr. McMahon is a member of the Molecular Biology Program and the Biological Chemistry Programs.
Service: Dr. McMahon has served on numerous study sections including the: 1. NIH Basic Mechanisms of Cancer Therapy; 2. Basic Cancer Research (BCR)-1 of the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and; 3. the Science Foundation of Ireland. He is currently the Chair of the NCI’s Board of Scientific Counsellors. He has served on the editorial board of Molecular Cancer Research, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research. He has organized numerous international conferences including the Oncogene Meeting (200), the Annual Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research (2015, 2017 & 2019) and the Mechanisms of Models of Cancer meetings held at the Salk Institute (2017) or Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (2018).