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Donna F. Kusewitt, DVM, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis, Science Park - Research Division, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Smithville, TX

Research Interests

Skin cancer, epithelial-mesenchymal transformation, animal models of cancer

Research interests in Dr. Kusewitt's laboratory focus on the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), with an emphasis on studies of skin carcinogenesis in animal models, including melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. The Slug transcription factor plays an important role in epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) during embryogenesis and is expressed in adult tissues during EMT-like processes involved in carcinoma progression and wound healing. Her ongoing research projects examine the role of the transcription factor Slug in skin homeostasis, skin carcinogenesis, and cutaneous wound healing. The unexpected finding that Slug knockout mice are resistant to sunburn has led her laboratory to demonstrate and investigate a novel role for Slug in controlling UVR-induced cutaneous inflammation.


As a veterinary pathologist, Dr. Kusewitt serves as Director of the Mutant Mouse Pathology Service (MMPS), a Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) shared resource, which provides fee-for service experimental pathology support for a variety of investigators. Services offered by the MMPS include ante mortem imaging, necropsy, descriptive and semi-quantitative histopathology, immunohistochemistry interpretation, virtual slide preparation, morphometry, laser capture microdissection, serum chemistry, and hematology.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1808 Park Road 1-C
P.O. Box 389
Unit Number: 116
Smithville, TX 78957
Room Number: SRA 1.128
Phone: 512-237-9347

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1987 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, PHD, Medical Sciences
1977 University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, DVM, Veterinary Medicine
1973 University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO, BA, Biology

Postgraduate Training

1980-1982 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Veterinary Pathology, The Lovelace Institutes, ITRI, Albuquerque, NM
1978-1980 Research Residency, Veterinary Pathology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL


Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Dept of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Little Rock, AR, 1997-1998
Clinical Associate Professor, University of New Mexico, College of Pharmacy, Albuquerque, NM, 1993-1997

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Shirley SH, Greene VR, Duncan LM, Torres Cabala CA, Grimm EA, Kusewitt DF. Slug expression during melanoma progression. Am J Pathol 180(6):2479-89, 6/2012. e-Pub 4/2012. PMCID: PMC3378849.
2. Chavez MG, Buhr CA, Petrie WK, Wandinger-Ness A, Kusewitt DF, Hudson LG. Differential downregulation of e-cadherin and desmoglein by epidermal growth factor. Dermatol Res Pract 2012:309587, 2012. e-Pub 1/2012. PMCID: PMC3270554.
3. Shirley SH, Grimm EA, Kusewitt DF. Ultraviolet radiation and the slug transcription factor induce proinflammatory and immunomodulatory mediator expression in melanocytes. J Skin Cancer 2012:410925, 2012. e-Pub 6/2012. PMCID: PMC3382223.
4. Shirley SH, Hudson LG, He J, Kusewitt DF. The skinny on Slug. Mol Carcinog 49(10):851-61, 10/2010. PMID: 20721976.
5. Hudson LG, Gale JM, Padilla RS, Pickett G, Alexander BE, Wang J, Kusewitt DF. Microarray analysis of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas reveals enhanced expression of epidermal differentiation complex genes. Mol Carcinog 49(7):619-29, 7/2010. PMID: 20564339.
6. Parent AE, Newkirk KM, Kusewitt DF. Slug (Snai2) expression during skin and hair follicle development. J Invest Dermatol 130(6):1737-9, 6/2010. e-Pub 2/2010. PMID: 20147965.
7. Hudson LG, Newkirk KM, Chandler HL, Choi C, Fossey SL, Parent AE, Kusewitt DF. Cutaneous wound reepithelialization is compromised in mice lacking functional Slug (Snai2). J Dermatol Sci 56(1):19-26, 10/2009. e-Pub 7/29/2009. PMID: 19643582.
8. Kusewitt DF, Choi C, Newkirk KM, Leroy P, Li Y, Chavez MG, Hudson LG. Slug/Snai2 is a downstream mediator of epidermal growth factor receptor-stimulated reepithelialization. J Invest Dermatol 129(2):491-5, 2/2009. e-Pub 8/14/2008. PMID: 18685621.
9. Benavides F, Oberyszyn TM, VanBuskirk AM, Reeve VE, Kusewitt DF. The hairless mouse in skin research. J Dermatol Sci 53(1):10-8, 1/2009. e-Pub 10/19/2008. PMCID: PMC2646590.
10. Newkirk KM, Duncan FJ, Brannick EM, Chandler HL, Parent AE, Kusewitt DF. The acute cutaneous inflammatory response is attenuated in Slug-knockout mice. Lab Invest 88(8):831-41, 8/2008. PMID: 18458671.
11. Newkirk KM, MacKenzie DA, Bakaletz AP, Hudson LG, Kusewitt DF. Microarray analysis demonstrates a role for slug in epidermal homeostasis. J Invest Dermatol 128(2):361-9, 2/2008. PMID: 17637818.
12. Newkirk KM, Parent AE, Fossey SL, Choi C, Chandler HL, Rajala-Schultz PJ, Kusewitt DF. Snai2 expression enhances ultraviolet radiation-induced skin carcinogenesis. Am J Pathol 171(5):1629-39, 11/2007. PMCID: PMC2043523.
13. Hudson LG, Choi C, Newkirk KM, Parkhani J, Cooper KL, Lu P, Kusewitt DF. Ultraviolet radiation stimulates expression of Snail family transcription factors in keratinocytes. Mol Carcinog 46(4):257-68, 4/2007. PMID: 17295233.
14. Savagner P, Kusewitt DF, Carver EA, Magnino F, Choi C, Gridley T, Hudson LG. Developmental transcription factor slug is required for effective re-epithelialization by adult keratinocytes. J Cell Physiol 202(3):858-66, 3/2005. PMID: 15389643.
15. Parent AE, Choi C, Caudy K, Gridley T, Kusewitt DF. The developmental transcription factor slug is widely expressed in tissues of adult mice. J Histochem Cytochem 52(7):959-65, 7/2004. PMID: 15208362.

Last updated: 8/8/2013