Dr. Elizabeth A. Grimm
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology
Dr. Grimm's research interests are divided into two major areas: (1) the fundamental cancer biology related to cytokine expression and inflammation in the maintenance of growth and apoptosis resistance pathways, which are based on her findings of endogenous constitutive nitric oxide in production in the tumor cells of patients with the worst prognoses; and (2) translational studies developing new therapies and validating prognostic markers in human melanoma. Her research in the 1980s at the NCI on human cytokines, particularly IL-2, led directly to its development as an approved agent for melanoma therapy. More recently, in experiments designed to reveal the mechanisms of IL-2 resistance which occurs in the majority of patients, the research in Dr. Grimm's lab has led to a focus on carcinogenic inflammation, which is associated with melanoma expression of various deleterious inflammatory markers, particularly inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Most recently, iNOS is proposed as a marker of poor prognosis as well as a target for therapy, with validation studies underway in her laboratory. Dr. Grimm hypothesizes that the molecular effects of iNOS produced nitric oxide (NO) and NO-driven reactive nitrogen species (RNS) directly modify critical growth and apoptosis proteins, resulting in reversible support inhibition of apoptosis.