Jesse D. Martinez, PhD

Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology
Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy

Cancer Center 0914
P.O. Box 245024
Tucson AZ 85724-5024

(520) 626-4250

Fax: 626-4480

  • University of Nevada, Reno, 1987 (Ph.D., Biochemistry)
Honors & Awards: 
  • Fleischman Foundation Scholarship, awarded competitively to graduating high school seniors, 1972-1973
  • National Science Foundation Minority Graduate Fellowship, awarded competitively to students nationally, 1982-1985
Major Areas of Research Interest: 

My laboratory investigations focus on the alterations in signal transduction and gene expression that occur during the development of cancer. Currently, we are involved in two broad fields of interest, cancer treatment and cancer prevention. In the first areas, we are studying the mechanism by which the tumor suppressor, p53, functions to control cell proliferation and repress tumor development. Although wild-type p53 functions as a tumor suppressor, mutant p53 acts as a dominant oncogene and my aim is to understand how the wild-type and mutant protein differ in function and activity. My ultimate goal is to utilize the information gained through these studies to develop therapeutic methods that restore the wild-type function to the mutant p53 gene product in tumor cells. The second area in which my laboratory has become involved in is colon cancer chemoprevention. Here the goal is to understand the mechanism of action of bile salts, whose production is influenced by diet and which can function either as tumor promoters or chemopreventive agents of colon cancer. My goal is to elucidate the signal transduction pathways that are activated by different bile salts, and to understand how stimulation of these signaling pathways alter gene expression and bring about the dramatically different effects that are exhibited by different bile salts. It is expected that the insights developed from studying these compounds will aid in the development of new strategies for cancer chemoprevention.

Selected Publications: 

Jean-Louis S, Akare S, Ali MA, Mash EA Jr, Meuillet E, Martinez JD. Deoxycholic acid induces intracellular signaling through membrane perturbations. J Biol Chem. 281(21):14948-60, 2006.

Martinez JD. 14-3-3 proteins: do they have a role in human cancer?
Future Oncol. 1(5):631-3, 2005.

Akare S, Martinez JD. Bile acid induces hydrophobicity-dependent membrane alterations. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1735(1):59-67, 2005.

Im E, Akare S, Powell A, Martinez JD. Ursodeoxycholic acid can suppress deoxycholic acid-induced apoptosis by stimulating Akt/PKB-dependent survival signaling. Nutr Cancer. 51(1):110-6, 2005.

Qi W, Liu X, Qiao D, Martinez JD. Isoform-specific expression of 14-3-3 proteins in human lung cancer tissues. Int J Cancer. 113(3):359-63, 2005.

Student Opportunities Through Research: 

My philosophy of teaching centers around the concept that critical thinking is the most important tool that a teacher can convey to his students. Of course students must be introduced to new knowledge and it is the obligation of those who create new knowledge to disseminate it. However, an important function provided by the teacher is guiding the student in critically evaluating that knowledge. In the sciences especially new knowledge must be looked at skeptically and judged in the context of previous discoveries to determine whether it is valid, should be disregarded, or viewed as an alternative explanation to a question that has no single answer. Yet it is also important to not overlook developments that go against accepted norms, but that may lead to the establishment of new paradigms. Hence a significant aspect of teaching involves mentoring.

Sponsored Research Through MSRP: 

Ryan Falsey  (MSRP 2002): "Elucidating Stress Pathways that Activate p53."

Steven Carey (MSRP 2004): "Regulation of p53 Nuclear Localization."

Dave Reyes, 2015; "Bile Acid Induced Regulation of the G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) / Calcium Signaling Pathway in Colorectal Cancer"

NIH Undergraduate Diversity Program: 

 Brenda Picasso, 2015; "Sub-cellular localization and dimerization of yeast 14-3-3 proteins"

NIH High School Student Research Program: 

-Marissa Mesa, Salpointe Catholic High School, 1995
-Bree Beardsley, University High School, 1996
-Shawn Douglas, University High School, 1997
-Jena Hicks, St. Gregory Preparatory School (Tucson AZ), 1999
-Myra R. Bitsuie, Holbrook High School (Holbrook, AZ), 2000
-Jose Luis Camarena, Jr., Desert View High School, 2001
-Eduardo Serrano, Pueblo High School, 2002
-Martha Kataura, Nogales High School (Nogales AZ), 2004
-Daniel Hernandez, Sunnyside High School, 2006

-Araceli Vidal, Cholla High School, 2009

-Brenda Celis Picasso, Cholla High Magnet School, 2012
-Leslie Edwards, Rincon High School, 2014

Last Updated: 
January 15, 2016