Welcome! We study the TAM family of receptor tyrosine kinases, comprised of TYRO-3, AXL, and MERTK, in cancer and the effect of TAM inhibition by small molecules as a disease treatment.

The receptor tyrosine kinase MERTK was first discovered by Dr. Graham and subsequent work in the Graham lab demonstrated oncogenic roles for MERTK in a variety of solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. Current projects focused on acute leukemia, non-small cell lung cancer, glioblastoma, and melanoma are aimed at better understanding the biology of MERTK and related receptors in tumor cells and their roles in the human immune system. In addition, in collaboration with scientists at the University of North Carolina, the Graham lab developed and characterized a series of novel small molecules that selectively and potently inhibit MERTK with the goal of targeting MERTK to treat patients with cancer, including MRX-2843, a first-in-class MERTK/FLT3-selective small molecule inhibitor that will advance to phase I clinical trials in 2018. Studies to determine the optimal application of MERTK inhibitors in combination with other agents to maximize therapeutic effects are ongoing.  

Determine mechanisms of resistance to targeted MERTK inhibition.

Identify roles and effects of MERTK inhibition in early thymic precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Elucidate molecular pathways that can be targeted in combination with MERTK inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia.

Determine roles for TYRO-3, a protein related to MERTK, in acute myeloid leukemia.

Develop biomarkers of MERTK inhibition and therapeutic response in acute leukemia cells.

Identify tyrosine kinase inhibitors that synergize with MERTK inhibition to suppress tumor growth.

Determine roles for MERTK in resistance to third-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancers with activating EGFR mutations.

Determine immunomodulatory roles for MERTK in the tumor microenvironment using syngenic mouse models of leukemia and breast cancer.

Identification of immune biomarkers of MERTK inhibition and therapeutic effects.

Development of small molecule MERTK inhibitors for treatment of cancer

Stephen V. Frye, H. Shelton Earp III, Xiaodong Wang, Dmitri Kireev, University of North Carolina


Mediators of resistance to MERTK inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia

Jeff Tyner, Oregon Health Sciences University


Targeting MERTK for anti-thrombotic applications

Jorge DiPaola, Brian Branchford, University of Colorado


MERTK as a mediator of resistance to AXL-targeted therapies

Deric Wheeler, University of Wisconsin


Interactions between MERTK and STAT5 in leukemia stem cells

Kevin Bunting, Zhengqi Wang, Emory University


Roles for MERTK in glioblastoma

Dolores Hambardzumyan, Emory University


Nanoscale combination therapies for treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Erik Dreaden, Emory University


TAM kinases as mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia

Andy Kolb, Erin Crowgey, Nemours Hospital for Children & University of Delaware

Dawn Barnes, PhD

Graduate Studies: Emory University, 2016

Current Project: Elucidating the molecular pathways that synergize with MERTK inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia.

Fun Fact: I enjoy pyrography because it allows me to customize gifts for friends and family. 

Email: debarne@emory.edu


Deb DeRyckere, PhD

Undergraduate: University of Michigan 

Graduate Studies: University of California- Berkeley 

Post-doctoral: University of Colorado School of Medicine 

Fun Fact: Once stared a polar bear in the eye from one foot away. 

Email: deborah.deryckere@emory.edu


Douglas K. Graham, MD, PhD

Undergraduate: Wake Forest University

Graduate Studies: University of North Carolina (MD, PhD)

Post-doctoral: University of Colorado/Children's Hospital Colorado

Fun Fact: I once rappelled down the tallest building in Denver to raise money for cancer research. 


Justus Huelse, MS

Undergraduate: University of Konstanz, Germany

Graduate Studies: University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Current Project: 

Fun Fact: I like to make my own cheeses.

Email: justus.hulse@emory.edu


Sherri Smart, MD, PhD

Undegrduate: University of Central Arkansas

Graduate Studies: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences 

Residency: University of Cincinnati, Pediatric Hematology and Cincinnati Children's Hospital

Current Project: TYRO3 as a novel target for AML and the TAM family as targets in pediatric solid tumors.

Fun Fact: I can paint so realistic it looks like a photograph!

Email: Sherri.Smart@choa.org


Ryan Summers, MD

Undergraduate: University of Georgia, Athens GA

Graduate Studies: Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta GA

Residency: Emory University

Fellowship: Emory University

Fun Fact: I played quarterback for a team that won the high school football state championship in Texas.

Email: Ryanjsumme@emory.edu


Dan Yan, MD, PhD

Graduate: Tongji Medical School, China

Fun Fact: Shopping, cooking, planting and traveling with my family to places that I've never been are things I enjoy.

Email: danyan2@emory.edu


Brittany Smith, BS

Undergraduate: Emory University

Current porject: MERTK/TYRO3 inhibition in NSCLC

Fun Fact: Before college, I lived in 8 different places!

Email: Brittany.Smith2@emory.edu


Travon Baxter, MS

Undergraduate: Tuskegee University

Graduate: University of Maryland College Park

Current Project: Mouse Colony Management, Genotyping,  and OCI-AML5, KG1, and KG1A Cell line Leukemia Expression In Vivo.

Fun Fact: I have a red-eared slider turtle that completly ignores me named "LOU"!

Email: Tbaxte3@emory.edu


Tanim, K.M., MS

Undergraduate School: Khulna University, Bangladesh 

Graduate School: West Virginia State University 

Current Project: Nuclear MerTK and its contribution to cancer progression.

Fun Fact: I once jumped out of a plane.

Email: ktanim@emory.edu 

Katherin Minson, MD (     - 2019) Pediatric Medical fellow

Eleana Vasileiadi (     -2019)   Pediatric Residency, New York

Rebecca Parker (    -2019)   Emory University Graduate Student, Phd Cancer Biology

Sandra Christoph, MD, PhD (2011-2013), postdoctoral fellow

Alexandra Sufit (2014-2015), graduate student, Cancer Biology

Lenka Teodorovic, PhD (2013-2015), postdoctoral fellow

Christopher Cummings (2011-2015), graduate student, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Alisa Lee Sherick, MD (2010-2015), pediatric hematology/oncology fellow

Sandra Christoph, MD, PhD (2011-2013), postdoctoral fellow

Amy Keating, MD (2003-2013), pediatric hematology/oncology fellow

Jennifer Schlegel (2010-2012), graduate student, Program in Molecular Biology

Justine Migdall (2009-2012), graduate student, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Rachel Linger, PhD (2007-2012), postdoctoral fellow

Luis Pessoa-Brandao, PhD (2007-2012), postdoctoral fellow

Kristen Eisenman, MD (2008-2011), pediatric hematology/oncology fellow

Kelly Sawczyn, MD (2004-2007), pediatric hematology/oncology fellow

Dana Salzberg, MD (2002-2006), pediatric hematology/oncology fellow

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – Development of a novel FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitor with activity against D835Y and F691L mutant proteins

Swim Across America Research Grant – Development of a Novel Therapy Targeting MERTK and STAT5 in AML Stem Cells

CURE Childhood Cancer – MERTK Inhibitor Combination Therapy for Treatment of AML

American Cancer Society – Development of biomarkers of sensitivity to MRX2843, a dual MERTK and FLT3 inhibitor for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia in children

Precious Jules Foundation – Therapeutic targeting of MERTK and BCL-2 in Early T-Precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Lee-Sherick AB, Jacobsen KM, Henry CJ, Huey MG, Parker RE, Page LS, Hill AA, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Jordan CT, DeRyckere D, Graham DK. MERTK inhibition alters the PD-1 axis and promotes anti-leukemia immunity. JCI Insight. 2018 Nov 2;3(21).

McDaniel NK, Cummings CT, Iida M, Hülse J, Pearson HE, Vasileiadi E, Parker RE, Orbuch RA, Ondracek OJ, Welke NB, Kang GH, Davies KD, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Harari PM, Kimple RJ, DeRyckere D, Graham DK, Wheeler DL. MERTK Mediates Intrinsic and Adaptive Resistance to AXL-targeting Agents. Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Nov;17(11):2297-2308.

Zhao J, Zhang D, Zhang W, Stashko MA, DeRyckere D, Vasileiadi E, Parker RE, Hunter D, Liu Q, Zhang Y, Norris-Drouin J, Li B, Drewry DH, Kireev D, Graham DK, Earp HS, Frye SV, Wang X. Highly Selective MERTK Inhibitors Achieved by a Single Methyl Group. J Med Chem. 2018 Nov 21;61(22):10242-10254.

Yan D, Parker RE, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, DeRyckere D, Graham DK. MERTK promotes resistance to irreversible EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancers expressing wild-type EGFR-family members. Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 7.

Summers R, Minson KA, DeRyckere D, Graham DK. Roles for AXL and MERTK in Resistance to Cytotoxic and Targeted Therapies. ScienceDirect. 2018 April 20;3:61-85.

Huey MG, Minson KA, Earp HS, DeRyckere D, Graham DK. Targeting the TAM Receptors in Leukemia. Cancers (Basel). 2016 Nov 8;8(11). Review.

Sufit A, Lee-Sherick AB, DeRyckere D, Rupji M, Dwivedi B, Varella-Garcia M, Pierce AM, Kowalski J, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Keating AK, Graham DK. MERTK Inhibition Induces Polyploidy and Promotes Cell Death and Cellular Senescence in Glioblastoma Multiforme. PLoS One. 2016 Oct 26;11(10). 

DeRyckere D, Lee-Sherick AB, Huey MG, Hill AA, Tyner JW, Jacobsen KM, Page LS, Kirkpatrick GG, Eryildiz F, Montgomery SA, Zhang W, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Graham DK. UNC2025, a MERTK Small-Molecule Inhibitor, Is Therapeutically Effective Alone and In Combination with Methotrexate in Leukemia Models. Clin Cancer Research. 2016 Sep 20. 

Lee-Sherick AB, Eisenman KM, Sather S, McGranahan A, Armistead PM, McGary CS, Hunsucker SA, Schlegel J, Martinson H, Cannon C, Keating AK, Earp HS, Liang X, DeRyckere D, Graham DK. Aberrant Mer Recepter Tyrosine Kinase Expression Contributes to Leukemogenesis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Oncogene. 2016 Dec 1;35(48):6270. 

Minson KA, Smith CC, DeRyckere D, Libbrecht C, Lee-Sherick AB, Huey MG, Lasater EA, Kirkpatrick GD, Stashko MA, Zhang W, Jordan CT, Kireev D, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Shah NP, Graham DK. The MERTK/FLT3 Inhibitor MRX-2843 Overcomes Resistance-Conferring FLT3 Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. JCI Insight. 2016 Mar;1(3). 

Cummings CT, Zhang W, Davies KD, Kirkpatrick GD, Zhang D, DeRyckere D, Wang X, Frye SV, Earp HS, Graham DK. Small Molecule Inhibition of MERTK is Efficacious in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Models Independent of Driver Oncogene Status. Mol Cancer Ther. 2015 Sep;14(9):2014-22. 

Lee-Sherick AB, Zhang W, Menachof KK, Hill AA, Rinella S, Kirkpatrick G, Page LS, Stashko MA, Jordan CT, Wei Q, Liu J, Zhang D, DeRyckere D, Wang X, Frye S, Earp HS, Graham DK. Efficacy of a Mer and Flt3 Tyrosine Kinase Small Molecule Inhibitor, UNC1666, in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Oncotarget. 2015 Mar 30;6(9):6722-36. 

Graham DK, DeRyckere D, Davies KD, Earp HS. The TAM Family: Phosphatidylserine sensing receptor tyrosine kinases gone awry in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2014 Dec;14(12):769-85. 

Cummings CT, Linger RM, Cohen RA, Sather S, Kirkpatrick GD, Davies KD, DeRyckere D, Earp HS, Graham DK. Mer590, A Novel Monoclonal Antibody Targeting MER Receptor Tyrosine Kinase, Decreases Colony Formation and Increases Chemosensitivity in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Oncotarget. 2014 Nov 15;5(21)10434-45.

View more publications

Date Title First Author Year



EGFR in Tumor-Associated Myeloid Cells Promotes Development of Colorectal Cancer in Mice and Associates With Outcomes of Patients.

Sriram Srivatsa and Mariel C. Paul 2017



MicroRNA-7 inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion via TYRO3 and phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein B kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway suppression

Anchen Qin 2018

International Journal of Molecular Medicine


Inhibition of the GAS6/AXL pathway augments the efficacy of chemotherapies

Kariolis Mihalis


Journal of Clinical Investigation


MERTK as negative regulator of human T cell activation

Raquel Cabezón 2015 Journal of Leukocute Biology
2/6/19 ATM/G6PD-driven redox metabolism promotes FLT3 inhibitor resistance in acute myeloid leukemia Mark A. Gregory 2016 PNAS
3/6/19 Negative regulation of G1/S transition by the candidate bladder tumour suppressor gene DBCCR1 Hiroyuki Nishiyama 2001 Oncogene
3/13/19 TYRO3 as a molecular target for growth inhibition and apoptosis induction in bladder cancer Florent Dufour 2019 British Journal of Cancer
3/20/19 Ezh2 loss propagates hypermethylation at T cell differentiation–regulating genes to promote leukemic transformation Changshan Wang 2018 Journal of Clinical Investigation
3/27/19 Pan-TAM tyrosine kinase inhibitor BMS-777607 enhances anti-PD-1 mAb efficacy in a murine model of triple-negative breast cancer Canan Kasikara 2019 Cancer Research
5/1/19 MERTK mediated novel site Akt phosphorylation alleviates SAV1 suppression Yao Jiang 2019 Nature Communications
5/8/19 PRC2 loss induces chemoresistance by repressing apoptosis in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia Ingrid M. Ariës 2018 Journal of Experimental Medicine
8/7/19 A novel human anti‐AXL monoclonal antibody attenuates tumour cell migration ( Brittany Smith - Presenter) Yanting Duan 2018 Experimental Immunology
8/21/19 TAM Kinases Promote Necroptosis by Regulating Oligomerization of MLKL ( Tanim Ahasan - Presenter)

Ayaz Najafov

  Molecular Cell
8/28/19 Inhibiting Janus Kinase 1 and BCL-2 to treat T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia with IL7-Rα mutations ( Ryan Summers- Presenter) Emilee Senkevitch 2018 Oncotarget
Date Title First Author Year Journal

A Functional Landscape of Resistance to ALK
Inhibition in Lung Cancer

Frederick H. Wilson 2015 Cancer Cell

JAK/STAT pathway inhibition overcomes IL7-induced
glucocorticoid resistance in a subset of human T-cell acute
lymphoblastic leukemias

C Delado-Martin 2017 Leukemia

A genomic screen identifies TYRO3
as a MITF regulator in melanoma

Shoutian Zhu 2009 PNAS

FLT3-driven redox-modulation of Ezrin regulates
leukaemic cell migration

Aoife Corcoran 2013 Free Radical Research

Combination of galectin inhibitor GCS-100 and BH3 mimetics eliminates
both p53 wild type and p53 null AML cells

Peter P Ruvulo 2015 Biochemica et Physica Acta

UNC569-induced Morphological Changes in
Pigment Epithelia and Photoreceptor Cells in
the Retina through MerTK Inhibition in Mice

Ayako Sayama 2005 Toxicologic Pathology

Near infrared imaging of Mer tyrosine kinase
(MERTK) using MERi-SiR reveals tumor associated
macrophage uptake in metastatic disease

Miles A. Miller 2018 Chem. Commun.

Concurrent alterations in EGFR-mutant lung cancers associated with resistance to EGFR
kinase inhibitors and characterization of MTOR as a mediator of resistance.

Helena A Yu 2018 Clinical Cancer Research

Ex vivo drug response profiling detects recurrent sensitivity patterns in
drug-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Viktoras Frismantas 2017 Blood

Intrinsic resistance to PIM kinase inhibition in AML through
p38α-mediated feedback activation of mTOR signaling

Diede Brunen 2016 Oncotarget

An SH2 Domain-dependent, Phosphotyrosine-independent
Interaction between Vav1 and the Mer Receptor Tyrosine Kinase

Nupam P Mahajan 2003 Journal of Biological Chemistry

PDG FRβ translocates to the nucleus and regulates
chromatin remodeling via TATA element–modifying
factor 1

Natalia Papadopoulos 2018 Journal of Cell Biology
5/30/18 Mer receptor tyrosine kinase promotes invasion and survival
in glioblastoma multiforme
Y Wang 2012 Oncogene

Effects of MERTK Inhibitors UNC569 and UNC1062
on the Growth of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Cells

Yuki Koda 2018 Anticancer Research

A MicroRNA-7/Growth Arrest
Specific 6/TYRO3 Axis Regulates
the Growth and Invasiveness
of Sorafenib-Resistant Cells in Human
Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Tasnuva D Kabir 2018 Hepatology

Diversification of TAM receptor tyrosine kinase function

Anna Zagórska 2014 Nature Immunology