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.