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Elizabeth A. Grimm, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Deputy Division Head for Research Affairs, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Professor, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology - Research, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Professor, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX

Research Interests

 

Dr. Grimm's research interests are divided into two major areas:

  1. Cancer biology of intrinsic tumor cytokine expression and other inflammatory mediators, that support tumor growth and apoptosis resistance pathways. This area of research is based on her findings of endogenous constitutive interleukins and iNOS-driven nitric oxide (NO) production in the tumor cells of patients with the worst prognoses;
  2. Translational studies directed toward the development of new therapies and validating inflammatory markers for prognosis and prediction of therapy in human melanoma, both cutaneous and uveal.

Her pioneering research in the 1980s at the NCI on human IL-2, led directly to its development as an approved agent for melanoma therapy. More recently, in an attempt to reveal the mechanisms of IL-2 failure in over 70% of patients, her research has led to the identification of what is now called “carcinogenic inflammation” which is associated with melanoma expression of various deleterious inflammatory markers, particularly inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).   This data has led to the proposal that iNOS is a marker of poor prognosis as well as a target for therapy, with signature of several markers is undergoing validation. Biochemical analysis of NO-modified proteins and their functional effects on melanoma response to therapy is a second area. Researchers in Dr. Grimm’s laboratory have found that NO-driven post-translational modifications are involved in numerous cancer related abnormalities that support continued growth and resistance to therapies. This relatively new area of inflammation is considered a prime area for targeting and improving patient treatment.

Dr. Grimm leads a successfully renewed first SPORE in Melanoma, and serves as Deputy Division Head for Research in DoCM, while maintaining a successful tumor immunology laboratory which has been supported by NCI peer-reviewed funding for 27 years. 

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard
Unit Number: 421
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: FC11.2048

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1979 UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, PHD, Microbiology and Immunobiology - Dissertation Title: Effector-Target Cell Interactions during T-Cell mediated Cytotoxicity
1971 Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, VA, AB, Chemistry

Postgraduate Training

1/1992-5/1992 UT MD Anderson Executive Development Course, Rice University, Houston, TX

Experience/Service

Academic Appointments

Professor, Departments of Experimental Therapeutics & Melanoma Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2008-2010

Administrative Appointments/Responsibilities

Chief Scientific Officer and Director ad interim, Moon Shot, Office of Strategic Initiatives, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2013-2014
Deputy Department Chair, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2005-2008

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Co-Director, Steering Committee of the Multidisciplinary Melanoma/Skin Cancer Research Program, MDACC, Houston, TX, 1998-present
Program Director, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program, MDACC, Houston, TX, 1998-present

Endowed Positions

Waun Ki Hong Distinguished Chair in Translational Oncology, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology - Research, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2014-present
Frank McGraw Memorial Chair in Cancer Research, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2011-2013
Frances King Black Memorial Professorship for Cancer Research, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2004-2011

Honors and Awards

2013-present Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007 Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research, Division of Cancer Medicine MD Anderson Cancer Center
1990-2000 The Dean's Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, U.T. Health Science Center
1979 UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year, UCLA Association for Academic Women

Professional Memberships

AACR State of Texas Legislative Committee
Member, 1992-1993
Adelson Medical Research Foundation
Chair, Biomarker Development Team, 2007-present
American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
Co-Chair Immunology Program Section, 1996
Chair Immunology Program Section, 1993
Member, 1981-present
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member, 1990
American Association of Immunologists
Member, 1980-present
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Educational Committee Melanoma Program Leader, 2006-2009
Society for Melanoma Research
Member, 2004-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Greene VR, Johnson MM, Grimm EA, Ellerhorst JA. Frequencies of NRAS and BRAF Mutations Increase from the Radial to the Vertical Growth Phase in Cutaneous Melanoma. J Invest Dermatol 129(6):1483-8, 6/2009. e-Pub 11/2008. PMCID: PMC2741006.
2. Deng WG, Kwon J, Ekmekcioglu S, Poindexter NJ, Grimm EA. IL-24 Gene Transfer Sensitizes Melanoma Cells to Erlotinib through Modulation of the Apaf-1 and Akt Signaling Pathways. Melanoma Res. e-Pub 3/2010. PMCID: PMCIn progress.
3. Sikora AG, Gelbard A, Davies MA, Sano D, Ekmekcioglu S, Kwon J, Hailemichael Y, Jayaraman P, Myers JN, Grimm EA, Overwijk WW. Targeted inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase inhibits growth of human melanoma in vivo and synergizes with chemotherapy. Clin Cancer Res 16(6):1834-44, 3/15/2010. e-Pub 3/9/2010. PMCID: PMC2858983.
4. Poindexter NJ, Williams RR, Powis G, Jen E, Caudle AS, Chada S, Grimm EA. IL-24 is expressed during wound repair and inhibits TGFa induced migration and proliferation of keratinocytes. Exp Dermatol 19(8):714-22, 8/2010. e-Pub 6/2010. PMID: 20545760.
5. Ellerhorst JA, Greene VR, Ekmekcioglu S, Warneke CL, Johnson MM, Cooke CP, Wang LE, Prieto VG, Gershenwald JE, Wei Q, Grimm EA. Clinical Correlates of NRAS and BRAF Mutations in Primary Human Melanoma. Clin Cancer Res 17(2):229-35, 1/15/2011. e-Pub 10/25/2010. PMCID: PMC3022950.
6. Ekmekcioglu S, Chattopadhyay C, Akar U, Gabisi A, Newman RA, Grimm EA. Zyflamend mediates therapeutic induction of autophagy to apoptosis in melanoma cells. Nutr Cancer 63(6):940-9, Aug-Sep, 8/2011. e-Pub 7/2011. PMID: 21745040.
7. Tanese K, Grimm EA, Ekmekcioglu S. The role of melanoma tumor-derived nitric oxide in the tumor inflammatory microenvironment: Its impact on the chemokine expression profile, including suppression of CXCL10. Int J Cancer 131(4):891-901, 8/2012. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3269542.
8. Qin Y, Ekmekcioglu S, Liu P, Duncan LM, Lizée G, Poindexter N, Grimm EA. Constitutive Aberrant Endogenous Interleukin-1 Facilitates Inflammation and Growth in Human Melanoma. Mol Cancer Res 9(11):1537-1550, 11/2011. e-Pub 9/27/2011. PMID: 21954434.
9. Chattopadhyay C, Ellerhorst JA, Ekmekcioglu S, Greene VR, Davies MA, Grimm EA. Association of Activated c-Met with NRAS-Mutated Human Melanomas: A Possible Avenue for Targeting. Int J Cancer 131(2):E56-65, 7/2012. e-Pub 1/2012. PMCID: PMC3337366.
10. Jen EY, Poindexter NJ, Farnsworth ES, Grimm EA. IL-2 regulates the expression of the tumor suppressor IL-24 in melanoma cells. Melanoma Res 22(1):19-29, 2/2012. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3253989.
11. Qin Y, Deng W, Ekmekcioglu S, Grimm EA. Identification of unique sensitizing targets for anti-inflammatory CDDO-Me in metastatic melanoma by a large-scale synthetic lethal RNAi screening. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 26(1):97-112, 1/2013. e-Pub 11/2012. PMID: 23020131.
12. Grimm EA, Sikora AG, Ekmekcioglu S. Molecular Pathways: Inflammation-associated nitric-oxide production as a cancer-supporting redox mechanism and a potential therapeutic target. Clin Cancer Res 19(20):5557-63, 10/15/2013. e-Pub 7/18/2013. PMCID: PMC3873873.

Book Chapters

1. Ekmekcioglu S, Kurzrock R, Grimm EA. Hematopoietic Growth Factors and Cytokines. In: The Molecular Basis of Cancer, 3rd. Ed(s) J Mendelsohn, PM Howley, MA Israel, JW Gray, CB Thompson. Saunders Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA, 605-619, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4160-3703-3.
2. Grimm EA, Hoon DS and Duncan LM. Biomarkers for Cutaneous Melanoma. In: Cutaneous Melanoma, 5th. Ed(s) Balch C, Houghton AN, Sober AJ, Soong SJ, Atkins MB and Thompson JF. Quality Medical Publishing, Inc: St. Louis, 883-897, 2009.
3. Ekmekcioglu S, Grimm EA. Prognostic Significance of INOS in Human Melanoma. In: Nitric Oxide and Cancer. Ed(s) B Bonavida. Springer: New York, 293-307, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4419-1431-6.
4. Poindexter N, Ramesh R, Ekmekcioglu S, Ellerhorst J, Kim K, Grimm EA. Interleukin-24 Gene Therapy for Melanoma. In: Gene-Based Therapies for Cancer. Ed(s) JA Roth. Springer: New York, 181-202, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4419-6101-3.
5. Ekmekcioglu S, Kurzrock R, Grimm EA. Hematopoietic Growth Factors and Cytokines. In: The Molecular Basis of Cancer, 4th. Ed(s) J Mendelsohn, PM Howley, MA Israel, JW Gray, CB Thompson. Saunders Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA. In Press.

Letters to the Editor

1. Guan X, Niu J, Liu Z, Wang LE, Amos CI, Lee JE, Gershenwald JE, Grimm EA, Wei Q. Variants in melanocortin 1 receptor gene contribute to risk of melanoma -a direct sequencing analysis in a Texas population. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 26(3):422-5, 5/2013. e-Pub 2/19/2013. PMCID: PMC3721512.

Last updated: 7/30/2014