Researcher Profile

Researcher Profile

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
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Apoptosis
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Cell Line

Clinical Trials

Application for Discarded Tissue From Surgery For Research Use

Recent Publications


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.


Dinavahi, SS, Bazewicz, CG, Gowda, R & Robertson, GP 2019, 'Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Inhibitors for Cancer Therapeutics', Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, vol. 40, no. 10, pp. 774-789.
Disano, JA, Huffnagle, I, Gowda, R, Spiegelman, VS, Robertson, GP & Pameijer, CR 2019, 'Loss of miR-155 upregulates WEE1 in metastatic melanoma', Melanoma Research, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 216-219.
Nicolae, CM, O’Connor, MJ, Schleicher, EM, Song, C, Gowda, R, Robertson, G, Dovat, S & Moldovan, GL 2019, 'PARI (PARPBP) suppresses replication stress-induced myeloid differentiation in leukemia cells', Oncogene, vol. 38, no. 27, pp. 5530-5540.
Buj, R, Chen, CW, Dahl, ES, Leon, KE, Kuskovsky, R, Maglakelidze, N, Navaratnarajah, M, Zhang, G, Doan, MT, Jiang, H, Zaleski, M, Kutzler, L, Lacko, H, Lu, Y, Mills, GB, Gowda, R, Robertson, GP, Warrick, JI, Herlyn, M, Imamura, Y, Kimball, SR, DeGraff, DJ, Snyder, NW & Aird, KM 2019, 'Suppression of p16 Induces mTORC1-Mediated Nucleotide Metabolic Reprogramming', Cell Reports, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1971-1980.e8.


Bazewicz, CG, Dinavahi, SS, Schell, TD & Robertson, GP 2019, 'Aldehyde dehydrogenase in regulatory T-cell development, immunity and cancer', Immunology, vol. 156, no. 1, pp. 47-55.
Cheng, Y, Ren, X, Yuan, Y, Shan, Y, Li, L, Chen, X, Zhang, L, Takahashi, Y, Yang, JW, Han, B, Liao, J, Li, Y, Harvey, H, Ryazanov, A, Robertson, GP, Wan, G, Liu, D, Chen, AF, Tao, Y & Yang, JM 2018, 'Correction to: eEF-2 kinase is a critical regulator of Warburg effect through controlling PP2A-A synthesis (Oncogene, (2016), 35, 49, (6293-6308), 10.1038/onc.2016.166)', Oncogene, vol. 37, no. 33, pp. 4633-4634.
Dinavahi, SS, Noory, MA, Gowda, R, Drabick, J, Berg, A, Neves, R & Robertson, G 2018, 'Moving synergistically acting drug combinations to the clinic by comparing sequential versus simultaneous drug administrations', Molecular pharmacology, vol. 93, no. 3, pp. 190-196.
Gowda, R, Dinavahi, SS, Iyer, S, Banerjee, S, Neves, R, Pameijer, CR & Robertson, G 2018, 'Nanoliposomal delivery of cytosolic phospholipase A2 inhibitor arachidonyl trimethyl ketone for melanoma treatment', Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 865-875.
Kokolus, KM, Haley, JS, Koubek, EJ, Gowda, R, Dinavahi, SS, Sharma, A, Claxton, DF, Helm, KF, Drabick, JJ, Robertson, GP, Neighbors, JD, Hohl, RJ & Schell, TD 2019, 'Schweinfurthin natural products induce regression of murine melanoma and pair with anti-PD-1 therapy to facilitate durable tumor immunity', OncoImmunology, vol. 8, no. 2, e1539614.


Kuzu, OF, Toprak, M, Noory, MA & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Effect of lysosomotropic molecules on cellular homeostasis', Pharmacological Research, vol. 117, pp. 177-184.
De Souza, LM, Robertson, BM & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Future of circulating tumor cells in the melanoma clinical and research laboratory settings', Cancer Letters, vol. 392, pp. 60-70.
Kuzu, OF, Gowda, R, Sharma, A, Noory, MA, Kardos, G, Madhunapantula, SRV, Drabick, JJ & Robertson, GP 2018, 'Identification of WEE1 as a target to make AKT inhibition more effective in melanoma', Cancer Biology and Therapy, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 53-62.
Gowda, R, Inamdar, GS, Kuzu, O, Dinavahi, SS, Krzeminski, J, Battu, MB, Voleti, SR, Amin, S & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Identifying the structure-activity relationship of leelamine necessary for inhibiting intracellular cholesterol transport', Oncotarget, vol. 8, no. 17, pp. 28260-28277.
Kuzu, OF, Gowda, R, Sharma, A, Noory, MA, Dinavahi, SS, Kardos, G, Drabick, JJ & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Improving pharmacological targeting of AKT in melanoma', Cancer Letters, vol. 404, pp. 29-36.
Taylor, MD, Bollt, O, Iyer, SC & Robertson, GP 2018, 'Metastasis suppressor 1 (MTSS1) expression is associated with reduced in-vivo metastasis and enhanced patient survival in lung adenocarcinoma', Clinical and Experimental Metastasis, vol. 35, no. 1-2, pp. 15-23.
Kuzu, OF, Gowda, R, Noory, MA & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Modulating cancer cell survival by targeting intracellular cholesterol transport', British Journal of Cancer, vol. 117, no. 4, pp. 513-524.
Gowda, R, Kardos, G, Sharma, A, Singh, S & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Nanoparticle-based celecoxib and plumbagin for the synergistic treatment of melanoma', Molecular cancer therapeutics, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 440-452.
Borland, MG, Yao, PL, Kehres, EM, Lee, C, Pritzlaff, AM, Ola, E, Wagner, AL, Shannon, BE, Albrecht, PP, Zhu, B, Kang, BH, Robertson, GP, Gonzalez, FJ & Peters, JM 2017, 'PPARβ/δ and PPARγ inhibit melanoma tumorigenicity by modulating inflammation and apoptosis', Toxicological Sciences, vol. 159, no. 2, pp. 436-448.
Gowda, R, Sharma, A & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Synergistic inhibitory effects of Celecoxib and Plumbagin on melanoma tumor growth', Cancer Letters, vol. 385, pp. 243-250.
Chen, YC, Gowda, R, Newswanger, RK, Leibich, P, Fell, B, Rosenberg, G & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Targeting cholesterol transport in circulating melanoma cells to inhibit metastasis', Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 541-552.
Madhunapantula, SRV & Robertson, GP 2017, 'Targeting protein kinase-b3 (akt3) signaling in melanoma', Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 273-290.

Clinical Trials Search

Children (age < 18 years)
Adults (age >= 18 years)