Honors & Awards

  • Tashia & John Morgridge Endowed Postdoctoral Fellowship, Maternal and Child Health Research Institute, Stanford Children's Health (2019-2020)
  • T32 Institutional Training Grant, Stanford University Department of Pediatrics, Division of Rheumatology (2018-2020)

Professional Education

  • Fellowship, Stanford University School of Medicine ? Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Pediatric Rheumatology (2020)
  • Residency, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Residency Training Program, Pediatrics (2017)
  • MD, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Medicine / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) (2014)
  • PhD, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Molecular Biology (2012)
  • BA, University of California Berkeley, Molecular & Cell Biology, Neuroscience emphasis; minor in Rhetoric (2005)

Stanford Advisors

Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


Graduate and Fellowship Programs

  • Immunology/Rheumatology (Fellowship Program)
  • Pediatric Rheumatology (Fellowship Program)


All Publications

  • Mer or Axl receptor tyrosine kinase inhibition promotes apoptosis, blocks growth and enhances chemosensitivity of human non-small cell lung cancer ONCOGENE Linger, R. M., Cohen, R. A., CUMMINGS, C. T., Sather, S., Migdall-Wilson, J., Middleton, D. H., Lu, X., Baron, A. E., Franklin, W. A., Merrick, D. T., Jedlicka, P., DeRyckere, D., Heasley, L. E., Graham, D. K. 2013; 32 (29): 3420-3431


    Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a prevalent and devastating disease that claims more lives than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined. Current research suggests that standard chemotherapy regimens have been optimized to maximal efficiency. Promising new treatment strategies involve novel agents targeting molecular aberrations present in subsets of NSCLC. We evaluated 88 human NSCLC tumors of diverse histology and identified Mer and Axl as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) overexpressed in 69% and 93%, respectively, of tumors relative to surrounding normal lung tissue. Mer and Axl were also frequently overexpressed and activated in NSCLC cell lines. Ligand-dependent Mer or Axl activation stimulated MAPK, AKT and FAK signaling pathways indicating roles for these RTKs in multiple oncogenic processes. In addition, we identified a novel pro-survival pathway-involving AKT, CREB, Bcl-xL, survivin, and Bcl-2-downstream of Mer, which is differentially modulated by Axl signaling. We demonstrated that short hairpin RNA (shRNA) knockdown of Mer or Axl significantly reduced NSCLC colony formation and growth of subcutaneous xenografts in nude mice. Mer or Axl knockdown also improved in vitro NSCLC sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents by promoting apoptosis. When comparing the effects of Mer and Axl knockdown, Mer inhibition exhibited more complete blockade of tumor growth while Axl knockdown more robustly improved chemosensitivity. These results indicate that Mer and Axl have complementary and overlapping roles in NSCLC and suggest that treatment strategies targeting both RTKs may be more effective than singly-targeted agents. Our findings validate Mer and Axl as potential therapeutic targets in NSCLC and provide justification for development of novel therapeutic compounds that selectively inhibit Mer and/or Axl.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/onc.2012.355

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322014900003

    View details for PubMedID 22890323

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3502700

  • Inhibition of MerTK increases chemosensitivity and decreases oncogenic potential in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia BLOOD CANCER JOURNAL Brandao, L. N., Winges, A., Christoph, S., Sather, S., Migdall-Wilson, J., Schlegel, J., McGranahan, A., Gao, D., Liang, X., DeRyckere, D., Graham, D. K. 2013; 3


    Pediatric leukemia survival rates have improved dramatically over the past decades. However, current treatment protocols are still largely ineffective in cases of relapsed leukemia and are associated with a significant rate of chronic health conditions. Thus, there is a continued need for new therapeutic options. Here, we show that mer receptor tyrosine kinase (MerTK) was abnormally expressed in approximately one half of pediatric T-cell leukemia patient samples and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cell lines. Stimulation of MerTK by the ligand Gas6 led to activation of the prosurvival proteins Erk 1/2 and Stat5, and MerTK-dependent activation of the STAT pathway in leukemia represents a novel finding. Furthermore, inhibition of MerTK expression increased the sensitivity of T-ALL cells to treatment with chemotherapeutic agents and decreased the oncogenic potential of the Jurkat T-ALL cell line in a methylcellulose colony-forming assay. Lastly, inhibition of MerTK expression significantly increased median survival in a xenograft mouse model of leukemia (30.5 days vs 60 days, P<0.0001). These results suggest that inhibition of MerTK is a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of leukemia and may allow for dose reduction of currently used chemotherapeutics resulting in decreased rates of therapy-associated toxicities.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/bcj.2012.46

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314213500003

    View details for PubMedID 23353780

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3556576

  • Prolonged Exposure to a Mer Ligand in Leukemia: Gas6 Favors Expression of a Partial Mer Glycoform and Reveals a Novel Role for Mer in the Nucleus PLOS ONE Migdall-Wilson, J., Bates, C., Schlegel, J., Brandao, L., Linger, R. M., DeRyckere, D., Graham, D. K. 2012; 7 (2)


    Mer tyrosine kinase is ectopically expressed in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and associated with enhanced chemoresistance and disease progression. While such effects are generally ascribed to increased engagement of oncogenic pathways downstream of Mer stimulation by its ligand, Gas6, Mer has not been characterized beyond the scope of its signaling activity. The present study explores Mer behavior following prolonged exposure to Gas6, a context similar to the Gas6-enriched microenvironment of the bone marrow, where a steady supply of ligand facilitates continuous engagement of Mer and likely sustains the presence of leukemic cells. Long-term Gas6 exposure induced production of a partially N-glycosylated form of Mer from newly synthesized stores of protein. Preferential expression of the partial Mer glycoform was associated with diminished levels of Mer on the cell surface and altered Mer localization within the nuclear-soluble and chromatin-bound fractions. The presence of Mer in the nucleus is a novel finding for this receptor, and the glycoform-specific preferences observed in each nuclear compartment suggest that glycosylation may influence Mer function within particular subcellular locales. Previous studies have established Mer as an attractive cancer biologic target, and understanding the complexity of its activity has important implications for potential strategies of Mer inhibition in leukemia therapy. Our results identify several novel features of Mer that expand the breadth of its functions and impact the development of therapeutic modalities designed to target Mer.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0031635

    View details for Web of Science ID 000302871500068

    View details for PubMedID 22363695

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3282750

  • TAM receptors in leukemia: expression, signaling, and therapeutic implications. Critical reviews in oncogenesis Brandão, L., Migdall-Wilson, J., Eisenman, K., Graham, D. K. 2011; 16 (1-2): 47-63


    In the past 30 years there has been remarkable progress in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. However, current treatments are largely ineffective against relapsed leukemia and, in the case of pediatric patients, are often associated with severe long-term toxicities. Thus, there continues to be a critical need for the development of effective biologically targeted therapies. The TAM family of receptor tyrosine kinases-Tyro3, Axl, and Mer-plays an important role in normal hematopoiesis, including natural killer cell maturation, macrophage function, and platelet activation and signaling. Furthermore, TAM receptor activation leads to upregulation of pro-survival and proliferation signaling pathways, and aberrant TAM receptor expression contributes to cancer development, including myeloid and lymphoid leukemia. This review summarizes the role of TAM receptors in leukemia. We outline TAM receptor expression patterns in different forms of leukemia, describe potential mechanisms leading to their overexpression, and delineate the signaling pathways downstream of receptor activation that have been implicated in leukemogenesis. Finally, we discuss the current research focused on inhibitors against these receptors in an effort to develop new therapeutic strategies for leukemia.

    View details for PubMedID 22150307

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4855299

  • In Silico Enhanced Restriction Enzyme Based Methylation Analysis of the Human Glioblastoma Genome Using Agilent 244K CpG Island Microarrays. Frontiers in neuroscience Tran, A., Escovedo, C., Migdall-Wilson, J., Chou, A. P., Chen, W., Cloughesy, T., Nelson, S., Lai, A. 2009; 3: 57-?


    Genome wide methylation profiling of gliomas is likely to provide important clues to improving treatment outcomes. Restriction enzyme based approaches have been widely utilized for methylation profiling of cancer genomes and will continue to have importance in combination with higher density microarrays. With the availability of the human genome sequence and microarray probe sequences, these approaches can be readily characterized and optimized via in silico modeling. We adapted the previously described HpaII/MspI based Methylation Sensitive Restriction Enzyme (MSRE) assay for use with two-color Agilent 244K CpG island microarrays. In this assay, fragmented genomic DNA is digested in separate reactions with isoschizomeric HpaII (methylation-sensitive) and MspI (methylation-insensitive) restriction enzymes. Using in silico hybridization, we found that genomic fragmentation with BfaI was superior to MseI, providing a maximum effective coverage of 22,362 CpG islands in the human genome. In addition, we confirmed the presence of an internal control group of fragments lacking HpaII/MspI sites which enable separation of methylated and unmethylated fragments. We used this method on genomic DNA isolated from normal brain, U87MG cells, and a glioblastoma patient tumor sample and confirmed selected differentially methylated CpG islands using bisulfite sequencing. Along with additional validation points, we performed a receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis to determine the optimal threshold (p

    View details for DOI 10.3389/neuro.15.005.2009

    View details for PubMedID 20582289

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2858617

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