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Melissa Gilbert-Ross, PhD

Assistant Professor
Emory University School of Medicine

Director, Cancer Animal Model Shared Resource
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Melissa Gilbert-Ross, PhD, joined the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in 2012. Currently, Dr. Gilbert-Ross is Director of the Cancer Animal Models Shared Resource, which assists Winship Cancer Institute members in the development, characterization and analysis of animal models for cancer research. She is also a member of the Cancer Cell Biology research program at Winship.

Dr. Gilbert-Ross earned her bachelor's degree in Genetics from The University of Georgia in Athens, and her PhD in Genetics from Stony Brook University in New York. She then went on to complete a productive postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Gilbert-Ross' postdoctoral work resulted in multiple first-author publications, two competitive Clinical LRP awards and a Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA. In 2013, Dr. Gilbert-Ross was awarded an Emory University Research Committee (URC) grant to develop an independent research program that uses a combination of Drosophila and mouse genetics to elucidate how LKB1 mutations drive metastasis in vivo.

She has also received the following grants and awards:

  • NCI Clinical Research LRP: “A Drosophila melanogaster model of mammalian HD-PTP and its role in FAK dephosphorylation”. (2010-2012)
  • NIH NRSA 1F32 GM077898 “Drosophila Tsg101: Coordination of growth control and epithelial polarity”. (2006-2008)
  • NIH Clinical Research LRP: “Tsg101: novel insights into a proposed mammalian tumor suppressor”. (2006-2008)
  • NCI Predoctoral Training Grant Recipient (2000-2002)
  • Howard Hughes Travel Award for Presentation of Undergraduate Research (1997)

Research Interests

Dr. Gilbert-Ross is ultimately interested in the molecular and cell biologic mechanisms that drive lung cancer tumor progression and metastasis. Mutations in the tumor suppressor LKB1 are present in up to 30% of patients, and collaborate with mutations in KRAS to produce aggressive lung tumors that are refractory to both standard and targeted therapies. In order to study how KRAS LKB1-mutant cells gain a metastatic advantage in the tumor microenvironment, she is applying her expertise in tissue-specific mosaic analysis to fluorescently mark KrasG12D Lkb1fl/fl mutant cells in vivo in a mouse model of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In addition, Dr. Gilbert-Ross is combining her expertise in Drosophila genetics and her training in mammalian lung cancer biology to test the central hypothesis that LKB1 restricts metastasis via a dual role in restricting both EMT and the plasticity of cell migration: both via its conserved role as a master regulator of cell polarity.

She has collaborated with Drs. Wei Zhou and Adam Marcus to redevelop a mutant Kras, Lkb1 genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Currently, the Kras, Lkb1 GEMM is being used in pre-clinical studies to test anti-metastatic therapies.


View publications on PubMed