Dr. Whitehurst received her B.A. and B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry, respectively, from Virginia Tech in 1997. Dr. Whitehurst then obtained her Ph.D. from UT Southwestern in 2004 under the tutelage of Melanie Cobb, Ph.D. She continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow with Michael White, Ph.D., at UT Southwestern, during which time she was supported by fellowships from the Komen Foundation, DOD, and ACS. Following receipt of a Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R01) from the NCI, Dr. Whitehurst began her independent career in 2009.

The major theme of her work is to characterize the mechanisms that permit uncontrolled growth of tumor cells. She uses RNAi-based functional genomics to identify gene products that support viability and/or modulate chemotherapeutic sensitivity in tumor cells. This strategy led her to discover that tumor cells can depend on aberrantly activated gametogenic genes for survival. These genes, known collectively as cancer-testis antigens, are only expressed in the testis and tumors, making them ideal targets for therapeutic intervention.

Her current work is focused on using cell biological, biochemical, and whole animal studies to elaborate the contribution of these cancer-testes antigens to neoplastic phenotypes. Dr. Whitehurst’s research program is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and an Innovative Research Grant from Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Research Interest

  • Cancer biology
  • Cancer-testis antigens
  • Chemoresistance
  • Mitotic checkpoints
  • Signal transduction


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

EWSR1-FLI1 activation of the cancer/testis antigen FATE1 promotes Ewing sarcoma survival.
Gallegos ZR, Taus P, Gibbs ZA, McGlynn K, Gomez NC, Davis I, Whitehurst AW, Mol. Cell. Biol. 2019 Apr
WNK1 is an unexpected autophagy inhibitor.
Gallolu Kankanamalage S, Lee AY, Wichaidit C, Lorente-Rodriguez A, Shah AM, Stippec S, Whitehurst AW, Cobb MH Autophagy 2017 Feb 1-2
Multistep regulation of autophagy by WNK1.
Gallolu Kankanamalage S, Lee AY, Wichaidit C, Lorente-Rodriguez A, Shah AM, Stippec S, Whitehurst AW, Cobb MH Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2016 Dec 113 50 14342-14347
SIK2 Restricts Autophagic Flux to Support Triple Negative Breast Cancer Survival.
Maxfield K, Macion J, Vankayalapati H, Whitehurst AW Mol. Cell. Biol. 2016 Oct
The cancer/testis antigens SPANX-A/C/D and CTAG2 promote breast cancer invasion.
Maine EA, Westcott JW, Prechtl AM, Dang TT, Whitehurst AW, Pearson GW Oncotarget 2016 Feb