Martin Carroll, M.D.

Martin Carroll, M.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine

Department of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology)

University of Pennsylvania
Room 708, BRB II/III
421 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 573-5217

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My laboratory is broadly interested in the molecular biology of leukemia, and has two active areas of research. The first project is focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML has been hypothesized to arise from a combination of oncogenic translocations that disrupt cellular disruption and dysregulation of cellular growth regulatory mechanisms. Although a number of translocations are identified which block differentiation in AML cells, the mechanism of increased cell growth is poorly understood. We are working to understand the signal transduction pathways activated in primary cells from patients with AML. We have recently found that over 80% of AML patient samples have activation of the PI3 kinase signaling pathway, and that these cells require activation of the PI3 kinase pathway for survival. We are continuing to work on the PI3 kinase pathway in these primary patient cells in order to determine the exact role of the pathway in AML. Experiments are in progress to test the use of PI3 kinase pathway inhibitors in the therapy of AML using a NOD/SCID xenograft model of the disease. We are also working to develop improved culture conditions for primary AML cells in order to define the growth regulatory pathways that maintain the survival of these cells in patients.

A second project involves the role of genomic instability in the progression of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from the chronic phase to the terminal blast crisis phase of disease. CML arises because of the t(9;22) translocation which gives rise to the BCR/ABL oncogene. Extensive work has shown that BCR/ABL is a constitutively activated tyrosine kinase that leads to constitutive activation of signal transduction pathways in leukemic cells causing their aberrant growth. However, the role of BCR/ABL in progression to blast crisis is unknown. We have recently demonstrated that BCR/ABL alters the cellular response to DNA damage. After DNA damage, BCR/ABL translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. In the nucleus, the oncogene associates with and disrupts the function of the ataxia-telangiectasia and rad 3 related (ATR) protein which regulates cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair. We are actively working on trying to define the mechanism of translocation and association with ATR in order to better understand the role of BCR/ABL in progression of this disease.