Dr. Lisa Coussens

Lisa M. Coussens, PhD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Cancer Biology, and Associate Director for Basic Research in the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) and holds the Hildegard Lamfrom Endowed Chair in Basic Science. She is associated with the Cell and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, the Cancer Biology Graduate program, and the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at OHSU. Dr. Coussens received her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from UCLA in 1993, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Biology at the University of California at San Francisco in Douglas Hanahans’ laboratory.  

Dr. Coussens research is focused on elucidating the roles of immune cells and their mediators as critical regulators of solid tumor development.  Her laboratory reported that lymphocytes selectively regulate myeloid cell functions in mouse models of squamous and mammary carcinoma, mesothelioma, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and that selective inhibition of key factors regulating either myeloid recruitment or function significantly enhances efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and thereby extend long-term survival of tumor-bearing mice. These discoveries are currently being translated into the clinical realm. Dr. Coussens is lead principle investigator on a KOMEN Promise grant conducting an investigator-initiated multi-center Phase Ib/II clinical trial evaluating a novel macrophage-antagonist in combination with chemotherapy in women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. More recently, Dr. Coussens was awarded a Stand Up To Cancer – Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Dream Team Translational Research grant focused on clinical evaluation of immune-based therapies in pancreatic cancer. Her contributions to this international team were based on the identification of B-cells and humoral immune-mediated factors regulating T-cells and immune suppression in squamous and pancreas cancer by her research group.  Specifically, her studies support evaluation of a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor plus chemotherapy in Phase Ib/II clinical trials of pancreatic cancer and head and neck cancer patients. The Coussens lab continues to investigate mechanisms of inflammation-associated carcinogenesis using mouse models of multi-stage carcinogenesis, while also developing, validating and utilizing technology platforms for examining clinical specimens to identify immune-based biomarkers for patient stratification, as well as biomarkers reflecting therapeutic responsive versus resistant disease.

Dr. Coussen’s research has been very productive over the years. Her first publication appeared in Science in 1983 (Francke U, de Martinville B, Coussens L, Ullrich A., 1983, The human gene for the Beta subunit of nerve growth factor is located on the proximal short arm of chromosome 1. Science 222:1248-1251). Since then, she has published >175 original research papers, reviews, and book chapters. She has an H-index of 73, which reflects the tremendous impact of her work.

Dr. Coussens has received many honors and awards, including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Gertrude B. Elion Award (2001); AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship (2012); 13th Rosalind E. Franklin Award from the National Cancer Institute (2015); 12th AACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship (2018); Career Award from the European Academy of Tumor Immunology (2018); and the 2018 Susan G. Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science. Dr. Coussens is also a Lifetime Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (2018) and a Fellow of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy (2019). Recently, Dr. Coussens was elected to President-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research and will serve as its President beginning in 2022.

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