Department of Cancer Biology

Robert J. Trumbly, Ph.D.

rjt Robert J. Trumbly, Ph.D.
Director of Block 1, Medical Curriculum
Department of Medical Education
Professor of Cancer Biology 
My major focus over the past few years has been in education. I am course director for five courses for medical students and graduate students. I participated along with many other faculty in the development of the new medical school curriculum which was launched in the fall of 2017. The new curriculum has introduced more active learning approaches and the earlier introduction of clinical experiences. I am also course director for two courses in the bioinformatics program.

In July 2017 my primary appointment moved to the newly formed Department of Medical Education.


My present research focus is using bioinformatics approaches to analyze the role of transcriptional regulation in cancer, primarily prostate and breast cancer.

In collaboration with Dr. Manohar Ratnam, I analyzed the patterns of gene expression from microarray data in prostate and breast cancer cells. In the case of prostate cancer cells, we have discovered a novel mechanism for androgen-independent growth, which involves gene activation by the androgen receptor in the absence of ligand. In a parallel result, we found that gene activation by the unliganded estrogen receptor permits cell cycling in breast cancer cells, providing a mechanism for development of resistance to anti-estrogens.

I have also collaborated with Dr. Kam Yeung of this department in the analysis of patterns of gene expression mediating the role of the RKIP metastasis suppressor in cancer progression.   


1975 B.A. University of California, Berkeley, California (Botany)
1980 Ph.D. University of California, Davis, California (Genetics)


2017-present  Professor, Cancer Biology, The University of Toledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences
1999-2017      Professor, Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, The University of Toledo Health Science Campus
1992-1998      Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of Ohio
1985-1991      Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of Ohio
1983-1985      Research Associate, New York State Dept. of Health, Center for Laboratories and Research
1979-1977      Teaching Assistant, Genetics Univ. of California, Davis
1975-1977      Research Assistant, Genetics Univ. of California, Davis


Gonit, M., Zhang, J., Salazar, M., Cui, H., Shatnawi, A., Trumbly, R., and Ratnam, M. (2011) Hormone depletion-insensitivity of prostate cancer cells is supported by the AR without binding to classical response elements.  Mol Endocrinol 25:621-634.

Salazar, M., Ratnam, M., Patki, M., Kosovic, I., Trumbly, R., Iman, M., Ratnam, M. (2011) During hormone depletion or tamoxifen treatment of breast cancer cells the estrogen receptor apoprotein supports cell cycling through the retinoic acid receptor α1 apoprotein. Breast Cancer Res. 13:R18.

Patki, M., Chari, V., Sivakumaran, S., Gonit, M., Trumbly, R., and Ratnam, M. (2013) The ETS domain transcription factor ELK1 directs a critical component of growth signaling by the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells. J. Biol. Chem. 288:11047-11065.

Datar, I., Tegegne, H., Qin, K., Al-Mulla, F., Bitar, M.S., Trumbly, R.J., and Yeung, K.C. (2014) Genetics and epigenetic control of RKIP transcript. Crit. Rev. Oncog. 19:417-430.

Patki, M., Salazar, Md, Trumbly, R., and Ratnam, M. (2015) Differential effects of estrogen-dependent transactivation vs. transrepression by the estrogen receptor on invasiveness of HER2 overexpressing breast cancer cells. Biochem. Biophy. Res. Commun. 457:404-411.

Datar, I., Feng, J., Qiu, X., Lewandowski, J., Yeung, M., Ren, G., Aras, S. Al-Mulla, F., Cui, H., Trumbly, R., Arudra, S.K., De Las Casas, L.E., de la Serna, I., Bitar, M.S., and Yeung, K.C. (2015) RKIP inhibits local breast cancer invasion by antagonizing the transcriptional activation of MMP13. PLoS One 10:e0134494.

Datar, I., Qiu, X., Ma, H.Z., Yeung, M., Aras, S., de la Serna, I., Al-Mulla, F., Thiery, J.P., Trumbly, R., Fan, X., Cui, H., and Yeung, K.C. (2015) RKIP regulates CCL5 expression to inhibit breast cancer invasion and metastasis by controlling macrophage infiltration. Oncotarget 6:39050-39061.

Last Updated: 2/12/20