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Gavin Robertson, PhD

Gavin Robertson, PhD

Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Professor, Department of Dermatology
Scientific Program:Next-Generation Therapies
Disease Teams:
Institute for CyberScience (ICS) - Associate

Research Interests

Dr. Gavin Robertson's research program focuses on malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. The central goal of his program is to unravel the biology and signaling pathways involved in melanoma tumor development in order to develop the next generation of therapeutic agents to treat this disease. Specifically, it involves identification and validation of novel therapeutic targets, discovery and development of new therapies and clinical evaluation of these drugs in patients.

Generally,the types of studies occurring the Robertson laboratory are:

Genetic and cell culture studies using animal and human models are used to identify and validate the involvement of candidate melanoma-causing genes. A recent example is the discovery of Akt3 involvement in approximately 70 percent of human melanomas.

Drug screens and medicinal chemistry are used to identify and develop new therapeutic agents. A recent example is the melanoma-treating drug ISC-4, which targets Akt3 signaling.

Nanotechnology and bioengineering are used to better deliver experimental agents into cancer cells. A recent example of this is the use of nanoliposomes and ultrasound that deliver therapeutic siRNA into melanoma cells.

Finally, agents are tested in the clinic for toxicity and tumor inhibitory efficacy. A recent example is a killed mycobacterium called CADI-5 that is being evaluated in clinical trials.

The ultimate goal of Dr. Robertson's translational research program is to develop better therapeutics for the treatment of melanoma based on the biology of the disease.

  • Melanoma
  • Neoplasms
  • Therapeutics
  • Genes
  • Proteins
  • Growth
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Apoptosis
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Cholesterol
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases

Recent Publications


Chen, YC, Gowda, K, Amin, S, Schell, TD, Sharma, AK & Robertson, GP 2024, 'Pharmacological agents targeting drug-tolerant persister cells in cancer', Pharmacological Research, vol. 203, 107163.
Zhang, J, Zhang, F, Porter, KI, Dakup, PP, Wang, S, Robertson, GP, Gaddameedhi, S & Zhu, J 2024, 'Telomere dysfunction in Tert knockout mice delays BrafV600E-induced melanoma development', International Journal of Cancer, vol. 154, no. 3, pp. 548-560.


Elbezanti, WO, Al-Odat, OS, Chitren, R, Singh, JK, Srivastava, SK, Gowda, K, Amin, S, Robertson, GP, Nemmara, VV, Jonnalagadda, SC, Budak-Alpdogan, T & Pandey, MK 2022, 'Development of a novel Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor that exerts anti-cancer activities potentiates response of chemotherapeutic agents in multiple myeloma stem cell-like cells', Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 13, 894535.
Dhanyamraju, PK, Schell, TD, Amin, S & Robertson, GP 2022, 'Drug-Tolerant Persister Cells in Cancer Therapy Resistance', Cancer Research, vol. 82, no. 14, pp. 2503-2514.
Dinavahi, SS, Chen, YC, Gowda, R, Dhanyamraju, PK, Punnath, K, Desai, D, Berg, A, Kimball, SR, Amin, S, Yang, JM & Robertson, GP 2022, 'Targeting Protein Translation in Melanoma by Inhibiting EEF-2 Kinase Regulates Cholesterol Metabolism though SREBP2 to Inhibit Tumour Development', International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 23, no. 7, 3481.
Dinavahi, SS, Chen, YC, Punnath, K, Berg, A, Herlyn, M, Foroutan, M, Huntington, ND & Robertson, GP 2022, 'Targeting WEE1/AKT Restores p53-Dependent Natural Killer–Cell Activation to Induce Immune Checkpoint Blockade Responses in “Cold” Melanoma', Cancer Immunology Research, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 757-769.


Chen, YC, Dinavahi, SS, Feng, Q, Gowda, R, Ramisetti, S, Xia, X, LaPenna, KB, Chirasani, VR, Cho, SH, Hafenstein, SL, Battu, MB, Berg, A, Sharma, AK, Kirchhausen, T, Dokholyan, NV, Amin, S, He, P & Robertson, GP 2021, 'Activating Sphingosine-1-phospahte signaling in endothelial cells increases myosin light chain phosphorylation to decrease endothelial permeability thereby inhibiting cancer metastasis', Cancer Letters, vol. 506, pp. 107-119.
Xu, T, Cheng, D, Zhao, Y, Zhang, J, Zhu, X, Zhang, F, Chen, G, Wang, Y, Yan, X, Robertson, GP, Gaddameedhi, S, Lazarus, P, Wang, S & Zhu, J 2021, 'Polymorphic tandem DNA repeats activate the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 118, no. 26, e2019043118.


Dinavahi, SS, Gowda, R, Bazewicz, CG, Battu, MB, Lin, JM, Chitren, RJ, Pandey, MK, Amin, S, Robertson, GP & Gowda, K 2020, 'Design, synthesis characterization and biological evaluation of novel multi-isoform ALDH inhibitors as potential anticancer agents', European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 187, 111962.
Dinavahi, SS, Gowda, R, Gowda, K, Bazewicz, CG, Chirasani, VR, Battu, MB, Berg, A, Dokholyan, NV, Amin, S & Robertson, GP 2020, 'Development of a Novel Multi-Isoform ALDH Inhibitor Effective as an Antimelanoma Agent', Molecular cancer therapeutics, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 447-459.
Song, C, Ge, Z, Ding, Y, Tan, BH, Desai, D, Gowda, K, Amin, S, Gowda, R, Robertson, GP, Yue, F, Huang, S, Spiegelman, V, Payne, JL, Reeves, ME, Gurel, Z, Iyer, S, Dhanyamraju, PK, Xiang, M, Kawasawa, YI, Cury, NM, Yunes, JA, McGrath, M, Schramm, J, Su, R, Yang, Y, Zhao, Z, Lyu, X, Muschen, M, Payne, KJ, Gowda, C & Dovat, S 2020, 'IKAROS and CK2 regulate expression of BCL-XL and chemosensitivity in high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia', Blood, vol. 136, no. 13, pp. 1520-1534.
Kardos, GR, Gowda, R, Dinavahi, SS, Kimball, S & Robertson, GP 2020, 'Salubrinal in Combination With 4E1RCat Synergistically Impairs Melanoma Development by Disrupting the Protein Synthetic Machinery', Frontiers in Oncology, vol. 10, 834.
Gowda, R, Robertson, BM, Iyer, S, Barry, J, Dinavahi, SS & Robertson, GP 2020, 'The role of exosomes in metastasis and progression of melanoma', Cancer Treatment Reviews, vol. 85, 101975.