UMass Boston

Jill Macoska

Alton Brann Distinguished Prof
ISC Floor 04


PhD, Biochemistry, City University of New York
MPhil, Biochemistry, City University of New York
BA, Physical Anthropology, Kent State University

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Personal Biography

I am the Alton J. Brann Endowed Distinguished Professor in Science and Mathematics, director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, and professor of biological sciences.

Prior to my appointment at the University of Massachusetts, I held the position of full professor with tenure in the Department of Urology and Programs in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics in the University of Michigan School of Medicine. While at Michigan, I held several senior leadership positions including associate director for the Genitourinary Program in the Comprehensive Cancer Center (2002-2006), associate chair for research (2003-2008) and chief of the Laboratory Division (which has since been incorporated into other existing divisions) (2008-2010) for the Department of Urology, and director of the Urology Research Training Program (2007-2010). 

At the national level, I has served on peer review for several journals and funding agencies and as a strategic participant in several advisory councils and workshops.  I am the current Vice-President and President-elect of the Society for Basic Urologic Research (SBUR) previously served as Co-Chair and Member of the Organizing Committees for the 2010 and 2011 Annual Fall SBUR Symposia, and Chair the Organizing Committee for the 2012 Annual Symposium. I have achieved national recognition in the area of basic research in aging and urologic disease, and in that capacity served as co-chair of the 2011 American Urological Association Foundation Summer Research Conference on “Aging and Urologic Disease” which was held July 2011.

Currently, I direct the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy,  a joint program of the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC). The goals of the CPCT are to:

  1. Create research support platforms to facilitate high impact translational cancer research (academic and startup biotech companies).
  2. Focus research efforts on the development, validation, and commercialization of RNA- and protein-based cancer biomarkers with significant clinical utility: tumor subtyping and early measures of tumor response to therapy.
  3. Train and bring diverse student talent into DF/HCC.
  4. Provide UMass Boston students with skills suitable for academic careers or employment in regional biomedical industry.

The CPCT will provide a means for undergraduate and graduate students to become the next generation of well-trained biomedical workforce talent and the future leaders of life sciences research in academia and industry.

A scientific focus of the center is to develop and validate RNA- and protein-based biomarkers useful for tumor sub-typing and predicting early tumor response to therapy.

Research Interests

My lab has led peer-reviewed and funded research for the past 20 years focused on elucidating the molecular genetic alterations and dysfunctional inter- and intra-cellular signaling mechanisms that promote prostate pathobiology.  Specific areas of interest include:

  1. Defining the mechanisms through which dysfunctional paracrine interactions between diverse cell types – epithelial, fibroblastic, endothelial, leukocytic – develop consequent to the aging process, and how these dysfunctional interactions contribute to the development of benign and malignant proliferative disease in the prostate;
  2. Elucidating the intracellular mechanisms through which growth factors, particularly CXC-type chemokines, secreted by aging stromal fibroblasts and inflammatory cells stimulate cellular proliferation and myofibroblast phenoconversion in the lower urinary tract, and the association of these pathobiologies, particularly tissue fibrosis, with urinary voiding dysfunction and malignancy, and
  3. Translating laboratory-based knowledge to the development of RNA- and protein-based biomarkers useful for tumor subtyping and predicting early response to therapy, and the development of clinically efficacious therapeutics to slow or arrest the initiation or progression of benign and malignant disease in the prostate.