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Mary Jo Turk, PhD

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Additional Titles/Positions/Affiliations:
Co-Director, Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy Program
Norris-Cotton Cancer Center

Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Turk received her B.S. in Chemistry from John Carroll University, and her Ph.D. from Purdue University. Dr. Turk was a postoctoral research fellow in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She joined the department of Microbiology and Immunology, as well as the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, as a faculty member, 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:

Tumor Immunology

Our laboratory's research focuses on generating durable memory T cell responses to cancer. What is known about generating immunological memory has historically derived from studies of infectious pathogens. Because tumors are an altered form of self-tissue, memory T cell responses to tumors have been characteristically difficult to generate, and mechanisms for their maintenance have not been well understood. Our laboratory has established that autoimmune disease is a critical determinant for the maintenance of T cell memory to tumor antigens. Over the past decade, we have found that autoimmune melanocyte destruction (known as vitiligo) is required to maintain protective T cell responses against melanoma. Our recent work shows that the most functional tumor-specific memory T cells reside in peripheral tissues, establishing that tissue-resident memory (TRM) cells are a critical component of long-lived immunity to cancer.

Oncogenic pathways are the fundamental basis for cancer, and our laboratory also studies the link between oncogenic signaling and host anti-tumor immunity. Our studies indicate that oncogenic BRAF signaling in melanoma cells promotes their ability to recruit and support immunosuppressive myeloid cells and regulatory T cels within the tumor microenvironment. We have demonstrated how inhibitor drugs that target BRAF can be optimally combined with immunotherapies that perturb immunosuppressive cells in tumors.


Courses Taught:

Bio 42
Micro/Immuno 136

Selected Publications:


Anti-CTLA-4 Activates Intratumoral NK Cells and Combined with IL15/IL15Rα Complexes Enhances Tumor Control.
Sanseviero E, O'Brien EM, Karras JR, Shabaneh TB, Aksoy BA, Xu W, Zheng C, Yin X, Xu X, Karakousis GC, Amaravadi RK, Nam B, Turk MJ, Hammerbacher J, Rubinstein MP, Schuchter LM, Mitchell TC, Liu Q, Stone EL
Cancer Immunol Res. 2019 Aug;7(8):1371-1380. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0386. Epub 2019 Jun 25.
PMID: 31239316

Tissue Resident CD8 Memory T Cell Responses in Cancer and Autoimmunity.
Molodtsov A, Turk MJ
Front Immunol. 2018;9:2810. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02810. Epub 2018 Nov 29.
PMID: 30555481

A Leukocyte Infiltration Score Defined by a Gene Signature Predicts Melanoma Patient Prognosis.
Zhao Y, Schaafsma E, Gorlov IP, Hernando E, Thomas NE, Shen R, Turk MJ, Berwick M, Amos CI, Cheng C
Mol Cancer Res. 2019 Jan;17(1):109-119. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-0173. Epub 2018 Aug 31.
PMID: 30171176

Oncogenic BRAFV600E Governs Regulatory T-cell Recruitment during Melanoma Tumorigenesis.
Shabaneh TB, Molodtsov AK, Steinberg SM, Zhang P, Torres GM, Mohamed GA, Boni A, Curiel TJ, Angeles CV, Turk MJ
Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 1;78(17):5038-5049. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0365. Epub 2018 Jul 19.
PMID: 30026331

VISTA expression on tumor-infiltrating inflammatory cells in primary cutaneous melanoma correlates with poor disease-specific survival.
Kuklinski LF, Yan S, Li Z, Fisher JL, Cheng C, Noelle RJ, Angeles CV, Turk MJ, Ernstoff MS
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 Jul;67(7):1113-1121. doi: 10.1007/s00262-018-2169-1. Epub 2018 May 8.
PMID: 29737375

Age effects of distinct immune checkpoint blockade treatments in a mouse melanoma model.
Padron Á, Hurez V, Gupta HB, Clark CA, Pandeswara SL, Yuan B, Svatek RS, Turk MJ, Drerup JM, Li R, Curiel TJ
Exp Gerontol. 2018 May;105:146-154. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.12.025. Epub 2018 Jan 8.
PMID: 29326088

Resident memory T cells in the skin mediate durable immunity to melanoma.
Malik BT, Byrne KT, Vella JL, Zhang P, Shabaneh TB, Steinberg SM, Molodtsov AK, Bowers JS, Angeles CV, Paulos CM, Huang YH, Turk MJ
Sci Immunol. 2017 Apr 14;2(10) pii: eaam6346. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aam6346.
PMID: 28738020

Myeloid Cells That Impair Immunotherapy Are Restored in Melanomas with Acquired Resistance to BRAF Inhibitors.
Steinberg SM, Shabaneh TB, Zhang P, Martyanov V, Li Z, Malik BT, Wood TA, Boni A, Molodtsov A, Angeles CV, Curiel TJ, Whitfield ML, Turk MJ
Cancer Res. 2017 Apr 1;77(7):1599-1610. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-1755. Epub 2017 Feb 15.
PMID: 28202513

Tumor-Intrinsic PD-L1 Signals Regulate Cell Growth, Pathogenesis, and Autophagy in Ovarian Cancer and Melanoma.
Clark CA, Gupta HB, Sareddy G, Pandeswara S, Lao S, Yuan B, Drerup JM, Padron A, Conejo-Garcia J, Murthy K, Liu Y, Turk MJ, Thedieck K, Hurez V, Li R, Vadlamudi R, Curiel TJ
Cancer Res. 2016 Dec 1;76(23):6964-6974. Epub 2016 Sep 26.
PMID: 27671674

The mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway plays a critical role in regulating immunological properties of BRAF mutant cutaneous melanoma cells.
Whipple CA, Boni A, Fisher JL, Hampton TH, Tsongalis GJ, Mellinger DL, Yan S, Tafe LJ, Brinckerhoff CE, Turk MJ, Mullins DW, Fadul CE, Ernstoff MS
Melanoma Res. 2016 Jun;26(3):223-35. doi: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000244.
PMID: 26974965

View more publications on PubMed