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Don L. Gibbons, MD, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Gibbons graduated from Harvard University in 1993 (BA degree in Biochemistry), and following completion of a MS degree at The University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio in 1996 and a MS degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999, he obtained his MD and PhD degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2004. Dr. Gibbons did his Clinical Residency at Baylor College of Medicine before joining MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2006 as a Clinical Fellow and later as a Research Fellow and Instructor. In 2010, he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology. Dr. Gibbons is a physician-scientist, specializing in lung cancer medical oncology and with a lab investigating the unique characteristics of tumor microenvironment in lung cancer and mechanisms that drive cancer cells to leave the primary tumor and start new tumors outside the lung. He was selected for the Physician Scientist Award (2012-2014) and the R. Lee Clark Fellowship (2014-2016), and in 2014, he was awarded the Young Physician-Scientist Award by the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Gibbons is the Director of the Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology Translational Genetic Models Laboratory.

Research Interests

Dr. Gibbons maintains a large and active research laboratory. His lab team works in understanding the regulation of cancer cell invasion and metastasis by microRNAs (short molecules of genetic information that control the production of proteins in the cells) and the role of the tumor microenvironment (immune cells and extracellular matrix) in those same processes. In their studies the team uses human samples and clinical data, cell line models and mouse models. Recently, Dr. Gibbons demonstrated that for cancer cells to escape the primary lung tumor and colonize new organs, they need to suppress the immune system, a process that is mediated in part by suppression and exhaustion of T cell activity, which is coordinated by the protein PD-L1. Dr. Gibbons’ translational research suggests that immunotherapy may have anti-metastatic effects and has driven the development of new clinical trials, particularly in the area of primary resistance to immunotherapy.

Clinical Interests

As a physician, Dr. Gibbons provides expert and compassionate clinical care to patients suffering from thoracic malignancies. He offers his patients both standard of care and clinical trial opportunities when available. Dr. Gibbons’ major clinical goals are to prevent the development of metastasis in lung cancer patients, i.e. to reduce the risk of cancer cells leaving the lung tumor and starting new tumors outside the lung; and to develop new immunotherapy combinations for treatment of early-stage disease and metastatic disease following surgery for lung cancer. His work focuses on understanding the role of the immune cells and other non-cancer cells (support cells) that are present in tumors in regulating tumor invasion, metastasis and treatment resistance. Dr. Gibbons is currently leading several clinical trials testing immunotherapy (anti-PD-1/PD-L1) alone and in combination with targeted agents for patients diagnosed with lung cancer.

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2004 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, MD, Medicine
2004 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, PHD, Cell Biology
1999 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, MS, Cell Biology
1996 The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, MS, Biochemistry
1993 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, BA, Biochemistry

Postgraduate Training

7/2007-6/2009 Research Fellowship, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Dr. Jonathan Kurie
7/2006-6/2009 Clinical Fellowship, Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Dr. Robert Wolff
6/2004-6/2006 Clinical Residency, MeRIT Scholars Program, Internal Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, Dr. Amir Halevy

Board Certifications

11/2010 Medical Oncology
1/2007 American Board of Internal Medicine

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Lou Y, Diao L, Parra Cuentas ER, Denning WL, Chen L, Fan YH, Byers LA, Wang J, Papadimitrakopoulou VA, Behrens C, Rodriguez J, Hwu P, Wistuba II, Heymach JV, Gibbons DL. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition is associated with a distinct tumor microenvironment including elevation of inflammatory signals and multiple immune checkpoints in lung adenocarcinoma. Clin Cancer Res. e-Pub 2/2016. PMID: 26851185.
2. Ungewiss C, Rizvi ZH, Roybal JD, Peng DH, Gold KA, Shin DH, Creighton CC, Gibbons DL. The microRNA-200/Zeb1 axis regulates ECM-dependent β1-integrin/FAK signaling, cancer cell invasion and metastasis through CRKL. Nature Scientific Reports, 1/2016.
3. Mak MP, Tong P, Lixia Diao L, Cardnell RJ, Gibbons DL, William WN, Skoulidis F, Parra ER, Rodriguez-Canales J, Wistuba II, Heymach JV, Weinstein JN, Coombes KR, Wang J, Byers LA. A patient-derived, pan-cancer EMT signature identifies global molecular alterations and immune target enrichment following epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Clin Cancer Res. e-Pub 9/2015.
4. Kundu ST, Byers LA, Peng DH, Roybal JD, Diao L, Wang J, Tong P, Creighton CJ, Gibbons DL. The miR-200 family and the miR-183~96~182 cluster target Foxf2 to inhibit invasion and metastasis in lung cancers. Oncogene. e-Pub 3/2015. PMID: 25798833.
5. Gibbons DL, Byers LA. A HER 1-2 Punch: Dual EGFR targeting deals resistance a deadly blow. Cancer Discov 4(9):991-4, 9/2014. PMID: 25185188.
6. Yang Y, Ahn YH, Chen Y, Tan X, Guo L, Gibbons DL, Ungewiss C, Peng DH, Liu X, Lin SH, Thilaganathan N, Wistuba II, Rodriguez-Canales J, McLendon G, Creighton CJ, Kurie JM. ZEB1 sensitizes lung adenocarcinoma to metastasis suppression by PI3K antagonism. J Clin Invest 124(6):2696-708, 6/2014. e-Pub 4/2014. PMCID: PMC4038569.
7. Gibbons DL, Byers LA, Kurie JM. Smoking, p53 mutation, and lung cancer. Mol Cancer Res 12(1):3-13, 1/2014. PMCID: PMC3925633.
8. Chen L, Gibbons DL, Goswami S, Cortez MA, Ahn YH, Byers LA, Zhang X, Yi X, Dwyer D, Lin W, Diao L, Wang J, Roybal JD, Patel M, Ungewiss C, Peng D, Antonia S, Mediavilla-Varela M, Robertson G, Jones S, Suraokar M, Welsh JW, Erez B, Wistuba II, Chen L, Peng D, Wang S, Ullrich SE, Heymach JV, Kurie JM, Qin FX. Metastasis is regulated via microRNA-200/ZEB1 axis control of tumour cell PD-L1 expression and intratumoral immunosuppression. Nat Commun 5:5241, 2014. e-Pub 10/2014. PMCID: PMC4212319.
9. Creighton CJ, Gibbons DL, Kurie JM. The role of epithelial-mesenchymal transition programming in invasion and metastasis: a clinical perspective. Cancer Manag Res 5:187-95, 2013. e-Pub 7/2013. PMCID: PMC3754282.
10. Gill BJ, Gibbons DL†, Roudsari LC, Saik JE, Rizvi ZH, Roybal JD, Kurie JM, West JL†. A synthetic matrix with independently tunable biochemistry and mechanical properties to study epithelial morphogenesis and EMT in a lung adenocarcinoma model. Cancer Res 72(22):6013-23, 11/2012. e-Pub 9/2012. PMCID: PMC3632398.
11. Ahn YH, Gibbons DL, Chakravarti D, Creighton CJ, Rizvi ZH, Adams HP, Pertsemlidis A, Gregory PA, Wright JA, Goodall GJ, Flores ER, Kurie JM. ZEB1 drives prometastatic actin cytoskeletal remodeling by downregulating miR-34a expression. J Clin Invest 122(9):3170-83, 9/2012. e-Pub 8/2012. PMCID: PMC3428095.
12. Schliekelman MJ, Gibbons DL, Faca VM, Creighton CJ, Rizvi ZH, Zhang Q, Wong CH, Wang H, Ungewiss C, Ahn YH, Shin DH, Kurie JM, Hanash SM. Targets of the tumor suppressor miR-200 in regulation of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer. Cancer Res 71(24):7670-82, 12/2011. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3419137.
13. Yang Y, Ahn YH, Gibbons DL*, Zang Y, Lin W, Thilaganathan N, Alvarez CA, Moreira DC, Creighton CJ, Gregory PA, Goodall GJ, Kurie JM. The notch ligand jagged 2 promotes tumor metastasis by activating a double-negative feedback loop involving GATA3 and microRNA-200. J Clin Invest 121(4):1373-85, 4/2011. e-Pub 3/2011. PMCID: PMC3069760.
14. Cataldo VD, Gibbons DL, Pérez-Soler R, Quintás-Cardama A. Treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer with Erlotinib or Gefitinib. N Engl J Med 364(10):947-55, 3/2011. PMID: 21388312.
15. Gibbons DL, Lin W, Creighton CJ, Rizvi ZH, Gregory PA, Goodall GJ, Thilaganathan N, Du L, Zhang Y, Pertsemlidis A, Kurie JM. Contextual extracellular cues promote tumor cell EMT and metastasis by regulating miR-200 family expression. Genes Dev 23(18):2140-51, 9/2009. PMCID: PMC2751985.

Last updated: 2/12/2016