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Mary Jo Turk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Turk received her B.S. in Chemistry in 1995 from John Carroll University, and her Ph.D. in 2001, from the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University. From 2001 through September of 2004, Dr. Turk was a postoctoral research fellow in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She joined the department of Immunology and Microbiology, as well as the Norris Cotton Cancer Center as an Assistant Professor in October of 2004.

Immunology Program
Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Programs
Norris Cotton Cancer Center


Contact Information:

One Medical Center Drive
Rubin Building 732, HB 7937
Lebanon NH 03756

Office: Rubin 732
Phone: 603-653-3549
Email: mary.jo.turk@dartmouth.edu

Asst. Phone: 603-653-9952

Professional Interests:

Research in the Turk Laboratory focuses on understanding how the immune system responds to poorly immunogenic tumors, and in using this knowledge to design effective immunotherapies against cancer.  We employ a century-old model (first discovered in 1906) known as Concomitant Tumor Immunity, whereby immunity to a progressively growing tumor is monitored by measuring growth of a secondary tumor given several days later.  Using this model, we have recently shown that, in the absence of CD4 CD25 regulatory T cells, progressively growing tumors themselves induce robust anti-tumor immunity against subsequent tumors.  In hosts with melanoma, this protection is mediated by CD8 T cells which recognize unaltered self proteins that are expressed by both melanoma cells and normal melanocytes.  These findings are intriguing because they demonstrate that tumors are able to break immunological tolerance to self proteins when regulatory T cells are disabled.  Our research goals involve elucidating the mechanisms by which tumors prime these T cell responses, devising effective strategies for blockade of regulatory T cells, and developing vaccines which will boost this inherent immunity against cancer.


Courses Taught:

Bio 42
Micro/Immuno 136
DMS 111

Selected Publications:


Melanoma Induces, and Adenosine Suppresses, CXCR3-Cognate Chemokine Production and T-cell Infiltration of Lungs Bearing Metastatic-like Disease.
Clancy-Thompson E, Perekslis TJ, Croteau W, Alexander MP, Chabanet TB, Turk MJ, Huang YH, Mullins DW
Cancer Immunol Res. 2015 Aug;3(8):956-67. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-15-0015. Epub 2015 Jun 5.
PMID: 26048575

BRAF-inhibition and tumor immune suppression.
Steinberg SM, Turk MJ
Oncoimmunology. 2015 Feb;4(2):e988039. Epub 2015 Mar 6.
PMID: 25949884

BRAF inhibition alleviates immune suppression in murine autochthonous melanoma.
Steinberg SM, Zhang P, Malik BT, Boni A, Shabaneh TB, Byrne KT, Mullins DW, Brinckerhoff CE, Ernstoff MS, Bosenberg MW, Turk MJ
Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 Nov;2(11):1044-50. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0074. Epub 2014 Sep 2.
PMID: 25183499

Local hyperthermia treatment of tumors induces CD8(+) T cell-mediated resistance against distal and secondary tumors.
Toraya-Brown S, Sheen MR, Zhang P, Chen L, Baird JR, Demidenko E, Turk MJ, Hoopes PJ, Conejo-Garcia JR, Fiering S
Nanomedicine. 2014 Aug;10(6):1273-85. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.01.011. Epub 2014 Feb 22.
PMID: 24566274

Multiple murine BRaf(V600E) melanoma cell lines with sensitivity to PLX4032.
Jenkins MH, Steinberg SM, Alexander MP, Fisher JL, Ernstoff MS, Turk MJ, Mullins DW, Brinckerhoff CE
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2014 May;27(3):495-501. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12220. Epub 2014 Mar 6.
PMID: 24460976

Autoimmune vitiligo does not require the ongoing priming of naive CD8 T cells for disease progression or associated protection against melanoma.
Byrne KT, Zhang P, Steinberg SM, Turk MJ
J Immunol. 2014 Feb 15;192(4):1433-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1302139. Epub 2014 Jan 8.
PMID: 24403535

Adenocarcinoma contains more immune tolerance regulatory t-cell lymphocytes (versus squamous carcinoma) in non-small-cell lung cancer.
Black CC, Turk MJ, Dragnev K, Rigas JR
Lung. 2013 Jun;191(3):265-70. doi: 10.1007/s00408-013-9455-7. Epub 2013 Mar 15.
PMID: 23494387

Immune-mediated regression of established B16F10 melanoma by intratumoral injection of attenuated Toxoplasma gondii protects against rechallenge.
Baird JR, Byrne KT, Lizotte PH, Toraya-Brown S, Scarlett UK, Alexander MP, Sheen MR, Fox BA, Bzik DJ, Bosenberg M, Mullins DW, Turk MJ, Fiering S
J Immunol. 2013 Jan 1;190(1):469-78. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201209. Epub 2012 Dec 7.
PMID: 23225891

Phagocytes mediate targeting of iron oxide nanoparticles to tumors for cancer therapy.
Toraya-Brown S, Sheen MR, Baird JR, Barry S, Demidenko E, Turk MJ, Hoopes PJ, Conejo-Garcia JR, Fiering S
Integr Biol (Camb). 2013 Jan;5(1):159-71. doi: 10.1039/c2ib20180a.
PMID: 22935885

A retinoic acid--rich tumor microenvironment provides clonal survival cues for tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells.
Guo Y, Pino-Lagos K, Ahonen CA, Bennett KA, Wang J, Napoli JL, Blomhoff R, Sockanathan S, Chandraratna RA, Dmitrovsky E, Turk MJ, Noelle RJ
Cancer Res. 2012 Oct 15;72(20):5230-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1727. Epub 2012 Aug 17.
PMID: 22902413