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Welcome to the

Oliver Lab

Innovative approaches to combating lung cancer

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Trudy G. Oliver


Duke Science & Technology Scholar

Dept of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Duke University

As of July, 2022

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Our mission

Our mission

Understanding lung cancer to develop better treatments

The Oliver Lab is focused on understanding the biology of under-studied subtypes of lung cancer, specifically squamous and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). We investigate mechanisms of tumor initiation, progression, plasticity, and drug resistance to uncover vulnerabilities that can be therapeutically targeted. We capitalize on state-of-the-art mouse and patient-derived models to identify and test novel treatment strategies, with the goal of translating these findings to the clinic. 


Our Research Overview

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and worldwide. Lung cancer can be broadly classified as small cell lung cancer (SCLC) or non-SCLC (NSCLC), with NSCLC further stratified as adenocarcinoma, squamous or large cell lung cancer. Tremendous strides have been made in the treatment of lung adenocarcinoma, particularly in the development of kinase inhibitors that target oncogenic drivers such as EGFR, ALK, ROS1, RET and other receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). In contrast, squamous and small cell lung cancer tend to be driven by oncogenic transcription factors and epigenetic regulators, which are notoriously difficult to drug in the clinical setting. Despite these molecular and histological classifications of lung cancer, abundant data suggest that lung cancer exhibits tremendous plasticity, or the ability to change cell fate or identity, especially in response to therapy. Our research seeks to use sophisticated mouse and patient-derived model systems to uncover mechanisms of tumor cell fate plasticity and drug resistance. We use global -omics approaches, especially single cell genomic technologies, and lineage-tracing tools to better understand how cell fate and identity dictate tumor behavior. Our ultimate goal is to develop innovative new approaches to treat squamous and small cell lung cancer. 

More recently, we have expanded our interests into head & neck squamous cancer (which shares molecular similarities with squamous lung cancer) and olfactory neuroblastoma (which we have found shares remarkable similarities to SCLC). 

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Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

SCLC is an extremely aggressive neuroendocrine subtype of lung cancer that is highly proliferative and widely metastatic. SCLC is designated as a “recalcitrant cancer” by Act of Congress due to poor outcomes and very few changes in treatment options over the last 40 years. The tumor suppressor genes RB1 and TP53 are lost or mutated in nearly 100% of cases, coupled with frequent overexpression or amplification of a MYC family member. SCLC is treated with combination chemotherapy in the clinic, with a high rate of responsiveness. However, chemotherapy relapse is rapid and nearly universal, with the vast majority of patients surviving less than two years. Immunotherapy is now approved for SCLC treatment, but this treatment only benefits a small subset of patients with limited durability. Thus, there is an urgent need for new approaches to SCLC treatment.

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SCLC has historically been treated as a single disease, with a lack of genomic testing or patient stratification in the clinic. However, recent studies including our own, suggest that SCLC can be stratified by expression of lineage-related transcription factors: ASCL1, NEUROD1, POU2F3 and potentially YAP1. Our work suggests that SCLC molecular subtypes harbor unique therapeutic vulnerabilities (Mollaoglu et al, Cancer Cell, 2017; Chalishazar et al, Clin Can Res, 2019; Dammert et al, Nat Comm, 2019; Ireland et al, Cancer Cell, 2020; reviewed in Rudin et al, Nat Rev Cancer, 2019). This concept has been validated in clinical trials (Owonikoko et al, JTO, 2019), showing that MYC-high SCLC is preferentially sensitive to Aurora kinase inhibition compared to MYC-low SCLC, as predicted by our preclinical studies. Recent studies also show that SCLC subtypes have distinct responses to immunotherapy and other targeted therapies, prompting an urgent need to better understand the mechanisms that lead to therapeutic responsiveness of specific subtypes.

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Our newest work demonstrated for the first time that SCLC subtypes have the capacity to switch from one subtype to another (Ireland et al, Cancer Cell, 2020), but the rules of SCLC plasticity remain largely unknown. In a short amount of time, the SCLC field has evolved from viewing SCLC as a single disease to a disease of multiple subtypes with tremendous plasticity. A major goal of the Oliver Lab is to understand the rules governing SCLC plasticity, and to confine and direct this plasticity to develop improved therapeutic approaches. We capitalize on state-of-the-art technologies, such as single cell RNA-sequencing, metabolic profiling, lineage-tracing, and CRISPR-based approaches, to comprehensively understand mechanisms of tumor heterogeneity, cell fate plasticity, and drug resistance. 

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Lung squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)

While squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) of the lung is described under the umbrella term of NSCLC, it has many important distinctions from lung adenocarcinoma. Squamous lung cancer harbors genomic aberrations that are distinct from lung adenocarcinoma. Squamous tumors have a unique histopathology and pattern of gene expression, and are thought to arise from a different cell(s) of origin than adenocarcinoma. Most importantly, SqCC is treated differently than lung adenocarcinoma in the clinic, partly because SqCC lacks genetic drivers that are common to adenocarcinoma. Murine and human models of squamous lung cancer have lagged behind that of the other major lung cancer subtypes. We believe that tractable new models are urgently needed to advance our understanding of the disease and to test novel therapeutic strategies.

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One of the most common genomic alterations in lung SqCC is the gain of chromosome 3q26, which harbors the oncogenes SOX2, deltaN TP63, PIK3CA, and other genes. SOX2 is highly and frequently over-expressed in squamous tumors and cooperates with DNp63 to promote the squamous lineage and stemness. In addition, mutations in the PI3K and mTOR pathways are common in lung SqCC. SOX2 over-expression alone is not sufficient to promote squamous tumorigenesis, but by combining SOX2 with loss of tumor suppressor genes, our laboratory has created multiple SOX2-driven squamous tumor GEMMs (Mukhopadhyay et al, Cell Rep, 2014; Mollaoglu et al, Immunity, 2018). We showed that squamous tumors in GEMMs highly resemble their human counterparts—genetically, histologically, and at the transcriptional level.   

We are now using these squamous GEMMs to better understand how the disease arises, how specific genetic alterations affect its development, and how this tumor type interacts with the immune system. We and others found that squamous tumors are highly enriched with tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs). Our recent work suggests that cell type or lineage factors dictate the recruitment of TANs and that TANs in turn impact the cell fate identity of the tumor. Current efforts seek to understand the mechanisms of cell fate identities in the lung and how the immune system impacts cell fate decisions. 

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The coverart above is a Van Gogh rendering of single cell data from our study that is stylized by artificial intelligence software. The bench invites you to be the viewer! 

Just as a viewer brings their own perspective to a piece of art, based on the unique identity of the viewer, so the art impacts the viewer in unique ways. Our study suggests that tumor identity influences the immune microenvironment, and that the environment in turn impacts the tumor. The tumor is truly a complex community of cellular relationships!



Finlay JB, Ireland AS, Hawgood SB, Reyes T, Ko T, Olsen RR, Abi Hachem R, Jang DW, Bell D, Chan JM, Goldstein BJ, Oliver TG (2024). Olfactory neuroblastoma mimics molecular heterogeneity and lineage trajectories of small-cell lung cancer. Cancer Cell, Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38788720.


Cai L, Gao Y, DeBerardinis RJ, Acquaah-Mensah G, Aidinis V, Beane JE, Biswal S, Chen T, Concepcion-Crisol CP, Grüner BM, Jia D, Jones R, Kurie JM, Lee MG, Lindahl P, Lissanu Y, Lorz Lopez MC, Martinelli R, Mazur PK, Mazzilli SA, Mii S, Moll H, Moorehead R, Morrisey EE, Ng SR, Oser MG, Pandiri AR, Powell CA, Ramadori G, Santos Lafuente M, Snyder E, Sotillo R, Su KY, Taki T, Taparra K, Xia Y, van Veen E, Winslow MM, Xiao G, Rudin CM, Oliver TG, Xie Y, Minna JD (2024). A Lung Cancer Mouse Model Database. bioRxiv [Preprint]. PMID: 38464291.


Brown JM, Patel R, Smith-Fry K, Ward M, Oliver T, Jones KB (2024). Genetically engineered mouse model of pleomorphic liposarcoma: Immunophenotyping and histologic characterization. Neoplasia, 48:100956. PMID: 38199172.

Pearsall SM, Williamson SC, Humphrey S, Hughes E, Morgan D, García Marqués FJ, Awanis G, Carroll R, Burks L, Shue YT, Bermudez A, Frese KK, Galvin M, Carter M, Priest L, Kerr A, Zhou C, Oliver TG, Humphries JD, Humphries MJ, Blackhall F, Cannell IG, Pitteri SJ, Hannon GJ, Sage J, Dive C, Simpson KL (2023). Lineage Plasticity in SCLC Generates Non-Neuroendocrine Cells Primed for Vasculogenic Mimicry. J Thorac Oncol, 18(10):1362-1385. PMID: 37455012.

Chen H, Gesumaria L, Park YK, Oliver TG, Singer DS, Ge K, Schrump DS (2023). BET Inhibitors Target the SCLC-N Subtype of Small-Cell Lung Cancer by Blocking NEUROD1 Transactivation. Mol Cancer Res, 21(2):91-101. PMID: 36378541.

Groves SM, Ildefonso GV, McAtee CO, Ozawa PMM, Ireland AS, Stauffer PE, Wasdin PT, Huang X, Qiao Y, Lim JS, Bader J, Liu Q, Simmons AJ, Lau KS, Iams WT, Hardin DP, Saff EB, Holmes WR, Tyson DR, Lovly CM, Rathmell JC, Marth G, Sage J, Oliver TG, Weaver AM, Quaranta V (2022). Archetype tasks link intratumoral heterogeneity to plasticity and cancer hallmarks in small cell lung cancer. Cell Syst, 13(9):690-710.e17. PMID: 35981544.

Kelenis DP, Rodarte KE, Kollipara RK, Pozo K, Choudhuri SP, Spainhower KB, Wait SJ, Stastny V, Oliver TG, Johnson JE (2022). Inhibition of Karyopherin β1-Mediated Nuclear Import Disrupts Oncogenic Lineage-Defining Transcription Factor Activity in Small Cell Lung Cancer. Cancer Res, 82(17):3058-3073. PMID: 35748745.

Hamad SH, Montgomery SA, Simon JM, Bowman BM, Spainhower KB, Murphy RM, Knudsen ES, Fenton SE, Randell SH, Holt JR, Hayes DN, Witkiewicz AK, Oliver TG, Major MB, Weissman BE (2022). TP53, CDKN2A/P16, and NFE2L2/NRF2 regulate the incidence of pure- and combined-small cell lung cancer in mice. Oncogene, 41(25):3423-3432. PMID: 35577980.

Sutherland KD, Ireland AS, Oliver TG (2022). Killing SCLC: insights into how to target a shapeshifting tumor. Genes Dev, 36(5-6):241-258. PMID: 35318269.


Ciampricotti M, Karakousi T, Richards AL, Quintanal-Villalonga À, Karatza A, Caeser R, Costa EA, Allaj V, Manoj P, Spainhower KB, Kombak FE, Sanchez-Rivera FJ, Jaspers JE, Zavitsanou AM, Maddalo D, Ventura A, Rideout WM, Akama-Garren EH, Jacks T, Donoghue MTA, Sen T, Oliver TG, Poirier JT, Papagiannakopoulos T, Rudin CM (2021). Rlf-Mycl Gene Fusion Drives Tumorigenesis and Metastasis in a Mouse Model of Small Cell Lung Cancer. Cancer Discov, 11(12):3214-3229. PMID: 34344693.

Cargill KR, Stewart CA, Park EM, Ramkumar K, Gay CM, Cardnell RJ, Wang Q, Diao L, Shen L, Fan YH, Chan WK, Lorenzi PL, Oliver TG, Wang J, Byers LA (2021). Targeting MYC-enhanced glycolysis for the treatment of small cell lung cancer. Cancer Metab, 9(1):33. PMID: 34556188.

Pe'er D, Ogawa S, Elhanani O, Keren L, Oliver TG, Wedge D (2021). Tumor heterogeneity. Cancer Cell, 39(8):1015-1017. PMID: 34375606.

Olsen RR, Ireland AS, Kastner DW, Groves SM, Spainhower KB, Pozo K, Kelenis DP, Whitney CP, Guthrie MR, Wait SJ, Soltero D, Witt BL, Quaranta V, Johnson JE, Oliver TG (2021). ASCL1 represses a SOX9+ neural crest stem-like state in small cell lung cancer. Genes Dev, 35(11-12):847-869. PMID: 34016693.

Huang F, Huffman KE, Wang Z, Wang X, Li K, Cai F, Yang C, Cai L, Shih TS, Zacharias LG, Chung A, Yang Q, Chalishazar MD, Ireland AS, Stewart CA, Cargill K, Girard L, Liu Y, Ni M, Xu J, Wu X, Zhu H, Drapkin B, Byers LA, Oliver TG, Gazdar AF, Minna JD, DeBerardinis RJ (2021). Guanosine triphosphate links MYC-dependent metabolic and ribosome programs in small-cell lung cancer. J Clin Invest, 131(1):e139929. PMID: 33079728.

Tsabar M, Mock CS, Venkatachalam V, Reyes J, Karhohs KW, Oliver TG, Regev A, Jambhekar A, Lahav G (2020). A Switch in p53 Dynamics Marks Cells That Escape from DSB-Induced Cell Cycle Arrest. Cell Rep, 32(5):107995. PMID: 32755587.

Ireland AS, Micinski AM, Kastner DW, Guo B, Wait SJ, Spainhower KB, Conley CC, Chen OS, Guthrie MR, Soltero D, Qiao Y, Huang X, Tarapcsák S, Devarakonda S, Chalishazar MD, Gertz J, Moser JC, Marth G, Puri S, Witt BL, Spike BT, Oliver TG (2020). MYC Drives Temporal Evolution of Small Cell Lung Cancer Subtypes by Reprogramming Neuroendocrine Fate. Cancer Cell, 38(1):60-78.e12. PMID: 32473656. (Selected as Best of Cancer Cell, 2020)

Ireland AS, Oliver TG (2020). Neutrophils Create an ImpeNETrable Shield between Tumor and Cytotoxic Immune Cells. Immunity, 52(5):729-731. PMID: 32433945.

Melnikova M, Wauer US, Mendus D, Hilger RA, Oliver TG, Mercer K, Gohlke BO, Erdmann K, Niederacher D, Neubauer H, Buderath P, Wimberger P, Kuhlmann JD, Thomale J (2020). Diphenhydramine increases the therapeutic window for platinum drugs by simultaneously sensitizing tumor cells and protecting normal cells. Mol Oncol, 14(4):686-703. PMID: 32037720.

Stewart CA, Gay CM, Xi Y, Sivajothi S, Sivakamasundari V, Fujimoto J, Bolisetty M, Hartsfield PM, Balasubramaniyan V, Chalishazar MD, Moran C, Kalhor N, Stewart J, Tran H, Swisher SG, Roth JA, Zhang J, de Groot J, Glisson B, Oliver TG, Heymach JV, Wistuba I, Robson P, Wang J, Byers LA (2020). Single-cell analyses reveal increased intratumoral heterogeneity after the onset of therapy resistance in small-cell lung cancer. Nat Cancer, 1:423-436. PMID: 33521652.

Poirier JT, George J, Owonikoko TK, Berns A, Brambilla E, Byers LA, Carbone D, Chen HJ, Christensen CL, Dive C, Farago AF, Govindan R, Hann C, Hellmann MD, Horn L, Johnson JE, Ju YS, Kang S, Krasnow M, Lee J, Lee SH, Lehman J, Lok B, Lovly C, MacPherson D, McFadden D, Minna J, Oser M, Park K, Park KS, Pommier Y, Quaranta V, Ready N, Sage J, Scagliotti G, Sos ML, Sutherland KD, Travis WD, Vakoc CR, Wait SJ, Wistuba I, Wong KK, Zhang H, Daigneault J, Wiens J, Rudin CM, Oliver TG (2020). New Approaches to SCLC Therapy: From the Laboratory to the Clinic. J Thorac Oncol, 15(4):520-540. PMID: 32018053.

Cable J, Finley L, Tu BP, Patti GJ, Oliver TG, Vardhana S, Mana M, Ericksen R, Khare S, DeBerardinis R, Stockwell BR, Edinger A, Haigis M, Kaelin W (2020). Leveraging insights into cancer metabolism-a symposium report. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1462(1):5-13. PMID: 31792987.

Chalishazar MD, Wait SJ, Huang F, Ireland AS, Mukhopadhyay A, Lee Y, Schuman SS, Guthrie MR, Berrett KC, Vahrenkamp JM, Hu Z, Kudla M, Modzelewska K, Wang G, Ingolia NT, Gertz J, Lum DH, Cosulich SC, Bomalaski JS, DeBerardinis RJ, Oliver TG (2019). MYC-Driven Small-Cell Lung Cancer is Metabolically Distinct and Vulnerable to Arginine Depletion. Clin Cancer Res, 25(16):5107-5121. PMID: 31164374.

Dammert MA, Brägelmann J, Olsen RR, Böhm S, Monhasery N, Whitney CP, Chalishazar MD, Tumbrink HL, Guthrie MR, Klein S, Ireland AS, Ryan J, Schmitt A, Marx A, Ozretić L, Castiglione R, Lorenz C, Jachimowicz RD, Wolf E, Thomas RK, Poirier JT, Büttner R, Sen T, Byers LA, Reinhardt HC, Letai A, Oliver TG, Sos ML (2019). MYC paralog-dependent apoptotic priming orchestrates a spectrum of vulnerabilities in small cell lung cancer. Nat Commun, 10(1):3485. PMID: 31375684.

Guo B, Oliver TG (2019). Partners in Crime: Neutrophil-CTC Collusion in Metastasis. Trends Immunol, 40(7):556-559. PMID: 31101536.

Rudin CM, Poirier JT, Byers LA, Dive C, Dowlati A, George J, Heymach JV, Johnson JE, Lehman JM, MacPherson D, Massion PP, Minna JD, Oliver TG, Quaranta V, Sage J, Thomas RK, Vakoc CR, Gazdar AF (2019). Molecular subtypes of small cell lung cancer: a synthesis of human and mouse model data. Nat Rev Cancer, 19(5):289-297. PMID: 30926931.

Mollaoglu G, Jones A, Wait SJ, Mukhopadhyay A, Jeong S, Arya R, Camolotto SA, Mosbruger TL, Stubben CJ, Conley CJ, Bhutkar A, Vahrenkamp JM, Berrett KC, Cessna MH, Lane TE, Witt BL, Salama ME, Gertz J, Jones KB, Snyder EL, Oliver TG (2018). The Lineage-Defining Transcription Factors SOX2 and NKX2-1 Determine Lung Cancer Cell Fate and Shape the Tumor Immune Microenvironment. Immunity, 49(4):764-779.e9. PMID: 30332632. (Selected as Cover Issue)

Wagner AH, Devarakonda S, Skidmore ZL, Krysiak K, Ramu A, Trani L, Kunisaki J, Masood A, Waqar SN, Spies NC, Morgensztern D, Waligorski J, Ponce J, Fulton RS, Maggi LB Jr, Weber JD, Watson MA, O'Conor CJ, Ritter JH, Olsen RR, Cheng H, Mukhopadhyay A, Can I, Cessna MH, Oliver TG, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Griffith M, Griffith OL, Govindan R (2018). Recurrent WNT pathway alterations are frequent in relapsed small cell lung cancer. Nat Commun, 9(1):3787. PMID: 30224629.

Huang F, Ni M, Chalishazar MD, Huffman KE, Kim J, Cai L, Shi X, Cai F, Zacharias LG, Ireland AS, Li K, Gu W, Kaushik AK, Liu X, Gazdar AF, Oliver TG, Minna JD, Hu Z, DeBerardinis RJ (2018). Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase Dependence in a Subset of Small Cell Lung Cancers. Cell Metab, 28(3):369-382.e5. PMID: 30043754.

Zhang W, Girard L, Zhang YA, Haruki T, Papari-Zareei M, Stastny V, Ghayee HK, Pacak K, Oliver TG, Minna JD, Gazdar AF (2018). Small cell lung cancer tumors and preclinical models display heterogeneity of neuroendocrine phenotypes. Transl Lung Cancer Res, 7(1):32-49. PMID: 29535911.

Cardnell RJ, Li L, Sen T, Bara R, Tong P, Fujimoto J, Ireland AS, Guthrie MR, Bheddah S, Banerjee U, Kalu NN, Fan YH, Dylla SJ, Johnson FM, Wistuba II, Oliver TG, Heymach JV, Glisson BS, Wang J, Byers LA (2017). Protein expression of TTF1 and cMYC define distinct molecular subgroups of small cell lung cancer with unique vulnerabilities to aurora kinase inhibition, DLL3 targeting, and other targeted therapies. Oncotarget, 8(43):73419-73432. PMID: 29088717.

Brägelmann J, Böhm S, Guthrie MR, Mollaoglu G, Oliver TG, Sos ML (2017). Family matters: How MYC family oncogenes impact small cell lung cancer. Cell Cycle, 16(16):1489-1498. PMID: 28737478.

Mollaoglu G, Guthrie MR, Böhm S, Brägelmann J, Can I, Ballieu PM, Marx A, George J, Heinen C, Chalishazar MD, Cheng H, Ireland AS, Denning KE, Mukhopadhyay A, Vahrenkamp JM, Berrett KC, Mosbruger TL, Wang J, Kohan JL, Salama ME, Witt BL, Peifer M, Thomas RK, Gertz J, Johnson JE, Gazdar AF, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Sos ML, Oliver TG (2017). MYC Drives Progression of Small Cell Lung Cancer to a Variant Neuroendocrine Subtype with Vulnerability to Aurora Kinase Inhibition. Cancer Cell, 31(2):270-285. PMID: 28089889.

Terry MR, Arya R, Mukhopadhyay A, Berrett KC, Clair PM, Witt B, Salama ME, Bhutkar A, Oliver TG (2015). Caspase-2 impacts lung tumorigenesis and chemotherapy response in vivo. Cell Death Differ, 22(5):719-730. PMID: 25301067.

Mukhopadhyay A, Oliver TG (2015). Mighty mouse breakthroughs: a Sox2-driven model for squamous cell lung cancer. Mol Cell Oncol,2(2):e969651. PMID: 27308419.

Oliver TG, Patel J, Akerley W (2015). Squamous non-small cell lung cancer as a distinct clinical entity. Am J Clin Oncol, 38(2):220-226. PMID: 25806712.

Masin M, Vazquez J, Rossi S, Groeneveld S, Samson N, Schwalie PC, Deplancke B, Frawley LE, Gouttenoire J, Moradpour D, Oliver TG, Meylan E (2014). GLUT3 is induced during epithelial-mesenchymal transition and promotes tumor cell proliferation in non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer Metab, 2:11. PMID: 25097756.

Mukhopadhyay A, Berrett KC, Kc U, Clair PM, Pop SM, Carr SR, Witt BL, Oliver TG (2014). Sox2 cooperates with Lkb1 loss in a mouse model of squamous cell lung cancer. Cell Rep, 8(1):40-49. PMID: 24953650.

Curry NL, Mino-Kenudson M, Oliver TG, Yilmaz OH, Yilmaz VO, Moon JY, Jacks T, Sabatini DM, Kalaany NY (2013). Pten-null tumors cohabiting the same lung display differential AKT activation and sensitivity to dietary restriction. Cancer Discov, 3(8):908-921. PMID: 23719831.

Xue W, Meylan E, Oliver TG, Feldser DM, Winslow MM, Bronson R, Jacks T (2011). Response and resistance to NF-κB inhibitors in mouse models of lung adenocarcinoma. Cancer Discov, 1(3):236-247. PMID: 21874163.

Oliver TG, Meylan E, Chang GP, Xue W, Burke JR, Humpton TJ, Hubbard D, Bhutkar A, Jacks T (2011). Caspase-2-mediated cleavage of Mdm2 creates a p53-induced positive feedback loop. Mol Cell, 43(1):57-71. PMID: 21726810. (Selected as Cover Issue)


Doles J, Oliver TG, Cameron ER, Hsu G, Jacks T, Walker GC, Hemann MT (2010). Suppression of Rev3, the catalytic subunit of Pol{zeta}, sensitizes drug-resistant lung tumors to chemotherapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107(48):20786-20791.PMID: 21068376.

Oliver TG, Mercer KL, Sayles LC, Burke JR, Mendus D, Lovejoy KS, Cheng MH, Subramanian A, Mu D, Powers S, Crowley D, Bronson RT, Whittaker CA, Bhutkar A, Lippard SJ, Golub T, Thomale J, Jacks T, Sweet-Cordero EA (2010). Chronic cisplatin treatment promotes enhanced damage repair and tumor progression in a mouse model of lung cancer. Genes Dev, 24(8):837-852. PMID: 20395368.

Cowley DO, Rivera-Pérez JA, Schliekelman M, He YJ, Oliver TG, Lu L, O'Quinn R, Salmon ED, Magnuson T, Van Dyke T (2009). Aurora-A kinase is essential for bipolar spindle formation and early development. Mol Cell Biol, 29(4):1059-1071. PMID: 19075002.

Schliekelman M, Cowley DO, O'Quinn R, Oliver TG, Lu L, Salmon ED, Van Dyke T (2009). Impaired Bub1 function in vivo compromises tension-dependent checkpoint function leading to aneuploidy and tumorigenesis. Cancer Res, 69(1):45-54. PMID: 19117986.

Fogarty MP, Emmenegger BA, Grasfeder LL, Oliver TG, Wechsler-Reya RJ (2007). Fibroblast growth factor blocks Sonic hedgehog signaling in neuronal precursors and tumor cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A,104(8):2973-2978. PMID: 17299056.

Oliver TG, Read TA, Kessler JD, Mehmeti A, Wells JF, Huynh TT, Lin SM, Wechsler-Reya RJ (2005). Loss of patched and disruption of granule cell development in a pre-neoplastic stage of medulloblastoma. Development,132(10):2425-2439. PMID: 15843415.

Oliver TG, Wechsler-Reya RJ (2004).Getting at the root and stem of brain tumors. Neuron, 42(6):885-888. PMID: 15207233.

Oliver TG, Grasfeder LL, Carroll AL, Kaiser C, Gillingham CL, Lin SM, Wickramasinghe R, Scott MP, Wechsler-Reya RJ (2003). Transcriptional profiling of the Sonic hedgehog response: a critical role for N-myc in proliferation of neuronal precursors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A,100(12):7331-7336. PMID: 12777630.

Lab Members

Meet our Lab Members

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Trudy G. Oliver, Ph.D.  (she/her/hers)

PhD: Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University, 2005

Postdoc: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tyler Jacks Lab, 2006-2011

Assistant-Associate ProfessorUniversity of Utah, 2011-2021
Huntsman Cancer Institute Endowed Chair in Cancer Research 2018-2022

Professor: Duke University, 2022-present

Interests: Mountain biking, bourbon, cats, and cool science

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Abbie S. Ireland  (she/her/hers)

Ph.D. student, University of Utah, 2021 (transferred to Duke)
Dept of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University, 2022-present

Interests: Rock climbing, skiing, rainbows and tumor evolution

Hometown: Idaho Falls, Idaho


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Tony Reyes   (he/him/his)

Ph.D. student, University of Utah, 2018-present

Interests: Shoes, basketball, biscuits and gravy, neutrophils and tumor heterogeneity

Hometown: North Hollywood, CA


Maria M. Xu, MD PhD  (she/her/hers)

General Surgery Resident, Duke, PGY-2 (2021-2028)

MD: University of Connecticut (2021) 

PhD: Immunology, Univer
sity of Connecticut (2019)

Interests: cooki
ng, experiments, tennis, skiing, surgical oncology and inflammation

Hometown: Morgantown, WV

Cathy Cheng (she/her/hers)
Lab Manager, Technician III, 2022-present 
Complex of Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia 2007-2022 
Interests: hiking, movies, arts & crafts, dogs, and gardening
Hometown: Athens, G

Margaret Weber (she/her/hers)
M.D./Ph.D. Student, Duke University, 2020-present 
Interests: climbing, painting, my dog Monty, and mechanisms of cancer disease progression 
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Luke Izzo (he/him/his)
Postdoctoral Associate, 2023-present 
PhD: Cancer Biology, University of Pennsylvania (2023)
Interests: Hiking, running, reading, and understanding cell fate, epigenetics, and metabolism
Hometown: Montgomery, NJ

Kaitlin C. Bevers, MD (she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Wayne S
tate University (2014) 
Residency: General Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine (2021)
Fellowships: Surgical Oncology Research Fellowship, National Cancer Institute (2018); Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2023
Interests: hiking, biking, family time, and cancer stemness
Hometown: Farmington, MI

Lisa Earnest-Noble, MD, PhD (she/her/hers)
Otolaryngology Research Resident, PGY-2 (2022-2029)
MD: Cornell Unive
rsity, 2021
PhD: Rockefeller University, 2019
B.A.: University of California, Berkeley, 2011

Interests: hiking with my dog, cooking, traveling to new places, improving outcomes and treatments for H&N cancer patients

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Srijan Meesala (he/him/his)
Undergraduate Student, Duke, Sophomore (Class of 2026)
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Minor: Chemistry
Interests: ultimate frisbee, golf, business, rap and chicken sandwiches
Hometown: Hoover, Alabama

Lisa Zuo (she/her/hers)
Undergraduate Student, Duke, Junior (Class of 2025)
Major: Statistical Science, Biology
Interests: classical music, hiking, spending time with family, bicycling,
and cancer plas
Hometown: Charlotte, NC

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Scar Lucas (they/them/theirs)
Lab Research Analyst I, 2024 - present
BS: Zoology, NC State (2020)
Interests: Musical theatre, my cats, animals in general, Legos, GEMMs
Hometown: Willis, Virginia


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Daniel Xie (he/him/his)
Undergraduate Student, Duke, Sophomore (Class of 2026)
Major: Biology
Interests: watching movies, cooking, solving puzzles, learning about cancer
Hometown: Toronto, Canada


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Ben Hanna  (he/him/his)
PhD Student, Duke University, 2024 - present
Interests: Basketball, house music, sneakers, mechanisms of drug resistance
Hometown: Portland, ME


Steven Yang  (he/him/his)
Undergraduate Student, Duke, Freshman (Class of 2027)
Major: Biology/Pre-Med


Interested in joining us?  

Please see the Join Us tab and tell us why you are interested.  We would love to hear from you! 


Join us
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Join Us!

The Oliver Lab has moved from the University of Utah to Duke University, officially starting in July, 2022.

We are looking for individuals who have skills in lab management, mouse husbandry, tissue culture, molecular biology, biochemistry, single cell technologies and bioinformatics. Dr. Oliver is currently hiring for administrative assistant. 


We seek to build a passionate and diverse team where everyone is welcome, included, and valued.

Interested? Please send a cover letter and your CV/resume with a list of references to tgo(at)

Graduate or MSTP students*: Please apply to the Molecular Cancer Biology program at the Duke Graduate School and set up a rotation in our lab. We do not do direct admittance, and you must enter through a PhD or MD/PhD program. Thanks!

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