Mary Jo Turk, PhD
Mary Jo Turk, PhD, has been named the O. Ross McIntyre, MD, Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Co-Director of the Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dr. Turk joined the faculty at Geisel 15 years ago and conducts pioneering research on the complex interactions between the immune system and cancer.
O. Ross McIntyre D ’53, MED ’55 was a founding member of Norris Cotton Cancer Center and served as its Director from 1975 until his retirement in 1992. Under Dr. McIntyre’s leadership, the Cancer Center grew from a small enterprise to one of the nation’s premier Comprehensive Cancer Centers, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. He fostered an environment in which basic scientists, clinical researchers, and caregivers could collaborate, share resources, and advance each other’s work.
John Moran, MD, D ’54, MED ’55, a classmate of Dr. McIntyre’s at Dartmouth Medical School, initiated the effort to establish the chair in honor of Dr. McIntyre, and Steven Gillis, PhD ’78, who knew Dr. McIntyre as a mentor and as a role model, contributed the lead gift with his wife, Anne.
“This is a wonderful recognition, and I am humbled by it,” said Dr. Turk. “Dr. McIntyre helped launch the immunotherapy program here, and pioneered our culture of collaborative research between clinicians and scientists. It’s a great honor to be appointed to the professorship that bears his name.”
Research Focus and Grants
Dr. Turk’s laboratory focuses on generating durable memory T-cell responses to cancer. Her interest in this research began with the question of why patients with melanoma who develop vitiligo have such a good prognosis. Dr. Turk and her team found that memory T cells permanently reside in vitiligo-affected skin, where they kill melanoma cells.
Dr. Turk collaborates with Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Norris Cancer Center clinicians, as well as other researchers in microbiology and immunology, quantitative biomedical sciences, and the Thayer School of Engineering. She also mentors PhD students, junior faculty, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinicians.
Dr. Turk has received research grants from a number of organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Melanoma Research Alliance, and the Sarcoma Foundation of America. She serves on the editorial board of International Immunopharmacology and is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Key Women Educators. She received her PhD from Purdue University and completed her postdoctoral training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. ■