McMahon Lab

The Importance of RAS Effectors 

Mutational activation of RAS genes is detected in approximately 25 percent of human cancers. However, to date, activated RAS oncoproteins remain intractable pharmacological targets. Research in the McMahon Lab focuses on the importance of RAS effectors, such as the RAF family of protein kinases and phosphoinositide 3’ (PI3’)-kinases in the aberrant physiology of cancer cells.

To do so, the lab employs genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of human cancer, patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and cultures of cancer cells in combination with various genetic or pharmacological to explore how signaling pathways contribute to cancer cell initiation, progression, and response to therapy.

McMahon Lab Translational Cancer Research Program

The McMahon lab’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 (b-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.

News & Blog

Banding Together to Advance Scientific Progress
Apr 01, 2021

Banding Together to Advance Scientific Progress

When cancer researchers from different disciplines work together, they gain new insights into how cancer begins and how it can be treated. HCI is committed to providing an atmosphere where ideas can be created, cultivated, and shared. Here are some examples of how HCI scientists are collaborating to accelerate progress in cancer research.... Read More

Huntsman Cancer Institute Researchers Identify Promising Drug Combination for Melanoma
Dec 03, 2020

Huntsman Cancer Institute Researchers Identify Promising Drug Combination for Melanoma

Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah have identified a potential drug combination to treat uveal melanoma, a type of eye cancer. Lead author Amanda Truong, trainee in the McMahon Lab at HCI, explains uveal melanoma patients frequently have changes in genes called GNAQ and GNA11, which are key targets for these drugs. This study was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.... Read More

Melanoma Research Innovations
May 26, 2020

Melanoma Research Innovations

At Huntsman Cancer Institute, we're committed to delivering a cancer-free frontier. Our cancer researchers are on the cutting-edge of discovery and innovation, and we're excited by what these advancements mean for melanoma prevention and treatment. Together, we're building the future we want.... Read More

Pancreas Discovery Moves from Lab to Clinic
Mar 01, 2019

Pancreas Discovery Moves from Lab to Clinic

In less than three years, HCI researchers have taken an idea from concept to lab to clinical evaluation. Conan Kinsey, MD, PhD, and Martin McMahon, PhD, combined two drugs that had not been used in combination before to treat pancreatic tumors. The results were promising and they were able to move from the lab to clinical trial quickly. A clinical trial to test the safety and effect of this drug combination in pancreatic cancer is now underway at HCI and planned at other sites around the United States. ... Read More

Principle Investigator
Martin McMahon, PhD
Senior Director of Preclinical Translation, Principal Investigator
martin.mcmahon@hci.utah.edu
Cancer Center Bio

Contact Us

For information on joining our team, contact Karrie.Lasater@hci.utah.edu