Theodora Ross, M.D., Ph.D.


Endowed Title: Jeanne Ann Plitt Professorship in Breast Cancer Research; H. Ben and Isabelle T. Decherd Chair in Internal Medicine, in Honor of Henry M. Winans, Sr., M.D.

Department: Internal Medicine

Graduate Programs: Cancer Biology


Dr. Ross received her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Washington University Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in St. Louis under the mentorship of Dr. Philip Majerus.  She then completed her medical residency in Boston at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute under the mentorship of Drs. Marshall Wolf, Robert Mayer and Gary Gilliland.  Her laboratory recently re-located to UTSW from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where for many years she and her colleagues investigated the basic mechanisms of transformation of normal cells into cancer cells and the refractoriness of cancer cells to targeted drugs (e.g. imatinib).  More specifically, their research focused on 1) understanding how cancer cells hijack clathrin trafficking pathways to increase signals from multiple growth factor receptors in parallel (Rao et al., Cancer Cell 2003; 3:471) and 2) understanding how tyrosine kinase oncogene induced cancers resist targeted therapies in vivo (Oravecz-Wilson et al, Cancer Cell 2009; 16:137).  Her laboratory at UT Southwestern continues in these pursuits (Ames et al., 2013; Foley et al, 2013 and Philips et al., 2013) as well as investigating mechanism of tumor suppression by BRCA1, a breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene (Soyombo et al, 2013).   Her clinical practice in Ann Arbor involved breast cancer patients of all stages, and in Dallas she cares for individuals at a high genetic risk for any type of cancer.  In addition to her clinical practice and laboratory research, she serves as the director of the UT Southwestern Cancer Genetics program.   Her clinical interests provide a continuous reminder that the patient is the reason for her laboratory’s scientific pursuits.  Outside of her official job, she has been a strong advocate for funding of basic cancer research having acted from 1997 to 2003 as president of Boston’s “Concert for the Cure”, a non-profit organization that raises money for basic breast cancer research.  In addition, she was the associate director of the University of Michigan MSTP.  She uses her experience with the Washington University and University of Michigan MSTPs to help recruit and grow UT Southwestern MSTP students into the next generation of physician scientists. 


Undergraduate Kalamazoo College (1985)
Medical School Washington University (1993), Medicine
Graduate School Washington University (1993)

Specialty Areas

Research Interests

  • Cellular consequences of BRCA1 mutations
  • Endocytosis and Cancer
  • Tyrosine Kinase Oncogenes and their roles in leukemia initiation, maintenance and drug resistance


Featured Publications Legend

Featured Publications

Toward a therapeutic reduction of imatinib refractory myeloproliferative neoplasm-initiating cells.

Philips ST, Hildenbrand ZL, Oravecz-Wilson KI, Foley SB, Mgbemena VE, Ross TS Oncogene 2013 Nov

Expression of BCR/ABL p210 from a Knockin Allele Enhances Bone Marrow Engraftment without Inducing Neoplasia.

Foley SB, Hildenbrand ZL, Soyombo AA, Magee JA, Wu Y, Oravecz-Wilson KI, Ross TS Cell Rep 2013 Oct 5 1 51-60

HIP1 Phosphorylation by Receptor Tyrosine Kinases.

Ames HM, Wang AA, Coughran A, Evaul K, Huang S, Graves CW, Soyombo AA, Ross TS Mol. Cell. Biol. 2013 Jul

Analysis of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from a BRCA1 Mutant Family.

Soyombo AA, Wu Y, Kolski L, Rios JJ, Rakheja D, Chen A, Kehler J, Hampel H, Coughran A, Ross TS Stem Cell Reports 2013 1 4 336-49

Huntingtin-Interacting Protein 1: A Merkel Cell Carcinoma Marker that Interacts with c-Kit.

Ames HM, Bichakjian CK, Liu GY, Oravecz-Wilson KI, Fullen DR, Verhaegen ME, Johnson TM, Dlugosz AA, Ross TS J. Invest. Dermatol. 2011 Oct 131 10

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  • Clinical Scientist Award
    Burroughs Wellcome Fund (2008)
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar
  • Jerome W. Conn Award for Excellence in Research
    University of Michigan (2004)
  • Damon Runyon Scholar
  • American Society of Hematology Scholar
  • American Cancer Society Oncology Fellow
  • Alpha Omega Alpha

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Society for Clinical Investigation (2004)
  • American Association for Cancer Research (1999)
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (1999)
  • American Society of Hematology (1999)