Faculty & Staff

Dr. John Tyson Mcdonald Dr. John Tyson Mcdonald Research Associate, Cancer Research Center Location:Biomedical Center200A Phone:757-728-6080 Expertise:Radiation Biology, Cancer Research, Systems Biology, Bioinformatics & Next Generation Sequencing


  • Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2004
  • Bachelor of Musical Arts in Viola Performance, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2004
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2009

Research Interests

  • Application of next generation high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics to elucidate molecular responses of cancer to ionizing radiation exposure.  Bioinformatic analysis of “omics” data (e.g. SNP, RNA-SEQ, and Exome platforms), for example the NIH’s Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)
  • Long-term genetic and molecular shift due to ionizing radiation in primary to recurrent tumors
  • Synergistic approach to benefit radiation therapy treatment outcome with small molecule drug targets to manipulate the tumor microenvironment and surrounding normal stromal niche
  • Differential effects of acute low dose compared to chronic low dose/low dose rate exposure to ionizing radiation in normal human cells

Awards and Honors 

  • 2017          National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Grant Writers Group in Atlanta, GA
  • 2015          AACR Minority in Cancer Research Award, Computational and Systems Biology of Cancer
  • 2011          Department of Energy Low Dose Investigator Workshop Travel Award, Washington D.C.
  • 2010          NASA Space Radiation Summer School, Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, NY
  • 2008          Radiation Research Society Scholars Award, 54th Annual Meeting, Boston, MA
  • 2008          AACR Minority in Cancer Research Scholars Award, San Diego, CA
  • 2005          Association of American Indian Physicians Award, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • 2004          Distinguished Leadership Award, University of Michigan’s College of Engineering
  • 2003          National Academy for Nuclear Training Scholarship
  • 1999          Te-Moak Band of Western Shoshone Higher Education Scholarship
  • 1999          George Bird Grinnell American Indian Children’s Foundation Scholarship

Profession Societies

  • 2008 - Present       American Association for Cancer Research, Member
  • 2007 - Present       Radiation Research Society, Member


 Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/browse/collection/45086010/?sort=date&direction=descending

  1. Gao X, McDonald JT, Naidu M, Hahnfeldt P, Hlatky L, A Proposed Quantitative Index for Assessing the Potential Contribution of Reprogramming to Cancer Stem Cell Kinetics, Stem Cells International, vol. 2014, Article ID 249309, 8 pages, 2014.
  2. Sasi SP, Song J, Park D, Enderling H, McDonald JT, Gee H, Garrity B, Shtifman A, Yan X, Walsh KX, Natarajan M, Kishore R, Goukassian DA. TNF-TNFR2/p75 Signaling Inhibits Early and Increases Delayed Non-Targeted Effects in Bone Marrow-Derived Endothelial Progenitor Cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry.  In Press, accepted April 7, 2014.
  3. McDonald JT, Briggs C, Szelag H, Peluso M, Schneider D, Perepletchikov A, Lakka Klement, Tuerk I, Hlatky L. Chronic Low Dose-Rate Radiation Down-Regulates Transcription Related to Mitosis and Chromosomal Movement Similar to Acute High Dose in Prostate Cells. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 90(3):231-40; 2014. PMID: 24397407
  4. Beheshti A, Pinzer BR, McDonald JT, Stampanoni M, Hlatky L. Early Tumor Development Captured Through Non-Destructive, High Resolution Differential Phase Contrast X-ray Imaging. Radiation Research, 180(5):448-54; 2013. PMID: 24125488
  5. Gao X, McDonald JT, Hlatky L, Enderling H. Acute and fractionated irradiation differentially modulate glioma stem cell division. Cancer Research, 73(5):1481-90; March 2013. PMID: 23269274
  6. McDonald JT, Kim K, Norris AJ, Vlashi E, Phillips TM, Lagadec C, Della Donna L, Ratikan J, Szelag H, Hlatky L, McBride WH. Ionizing Radiation Activates the Nrf2 Antioxidant Response. Cancer Research, 70(21):8886-95; 2010. PMID: 20940400
  7. Kim K, Pollard JM, Norris AJ, McDonald JT, Sun Y, Micewicz E, Pettijohn K, Damoiseaux R, Iwamoto KS, Sayre JW, Price BD, Gatti RA, McBride WH. High Throughput Screening Identifies Two Classes of Antibiotics as Radioprotectors: Tetracyclines and Fluoroquinolones. Clinical Cancer Research, 15(23); 2009. PMID: 19920105
  8. Vlashi E, Kim K, Lagadec C, Della Donna L, McDonald JT, Eghbali M, Sayre JW, Stefani E, McBride WH, Pajonk F. In Vivo Imaging, Tracking, and Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 101(5):350-359; 2009. PMID: 19244169
  9. Brush J, Lipnick SL, Phillips T, Sitko J, McDonald JT, McBride WH. Molecular mechanisms of late normal tissue injury. Seminars in Radiation Oncology, 17(2):121-130; 2006. PMID: 17395042
  10. Pursell Z, McDonald JT, Mathews CK, Kunkel T. Trace amounts of 8-oxo-dGRP in mitochondrial dNTP pools reduce DNA polymerase gamma replication fidelity. Nucleic Acids Research, 36(7):2174-2181; 2008. PMID: 18276636
  11. McDonald JT, West WG, Kearfott KJ. An Evaluation of the Kearny Fallout Meter (KFM), a Radiation Detector Constructed of Commonly Available Household Materials. Health Physics Journal, 87(S2):S52-S57; 2004. PMID: 15551780
  12. McDonald JT, Gao X, Steber C, Lee J, Pollock C, Ma L, Hlatky L. Host mediated inflammatory influence on Glioblastoma Multiforme recurrence following high-dose ionizing radiation. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0178155, 2017. PMID & PMCID: pending.
  13. Ricks-Santi L, McDonald JT, Gold B, Dean M, Thompson N, Abbas M, Wilson B, Yasmin K, Naab TJ, Dunston G. Next generation sequencing reveals high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 variants of unknown significance in early-onset breast cancer in African American women. Ethnicity and Disease. 27(2):169-178, 2017. PMCID: PMC5398176.
  14. Ricks-Santi L and McDonald JT.  Low Utilization of OncotypeDX in the Clinic. Cancer Medicine, 6(3):501-507, 2017. PMID: 28145091, PMCID: PMC5345634.
  15. Beheshti A, Vanderburg C, McDonald JT, Kadungure T, Zhang H, Gartenhaus RB, Evens AM. A Circulating microRNA Signature Predicts Age-Based Development of Lymphoma. PLoS One, 12(1)e0170521. 2017. PMID: 28107482, PMCID: PMC5249061.
  16. Ricks-Santi L, Barley B,Winchester D, Sultan D,McDonald JT, Pearson-Fields A, Brown JR, Vargas A, Kanaan Y. Affluence does not influence breast cancer outcomes in African American women. Accepted 7/2016 to the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
  17. Mantel A, McDonald JT, Goldsborough K, Harvey VM, Chann J. Prostaglandin D2 Utilizes Components of ROS Signaling to Enhance Testosterone Production in Keratinocytes. Accepted on 7/27/2016 to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
  18. Beheshti A, Neuberg D, McDonald JT, Vanderburg CR, Evens AM.  The Impact of Age and Sex in DLBCL: Systems Biology Analyses Identify Distinct Molecular Changes and Signaling Networks. Cancer Informatics, 14:141-8, 2015.  PMID: 26691437, PMCID: PMC4676434.
  19. Beheshti A, Wage J, McDonald JT, Lamont C, Peluso M, Hahnfeldt P, Hlatky L.  Tumor-host signaling interaction reveals a systemic, age-dependent splenic immune influence on tumor development.  Oncotarget, 5, 2015.  PMID: 26497558, PMCID: PMC4742115.
  20. Beheshti A, Benzekry S, McDonald JT, Ma L, Peluso M, Hahnfeldt P, Hlatky L.  Host Age is a Systemic Regulator of Gene Expression Impacting Cancer Progression. Cancer Research, vol. 75(6): 1134-43, 2015.  PMID: 25732382, PMCID: PMC4397972. 

Book Chapters

  1. Gao X, McDonald JT, Hlatky L, Enderling H. Cell-cell interactions in solid tumors: the role of cancer stem cells. In: New Challenges for Cancer Systems Biomedicine. Editors. d'Onofrio, Cerrai, and Gandolfi. SEMA SIMAI Springer Series; 2012.
  2. Rietman EA, McDonald JT, Hlatky L. Organism Mutation Stability and Cancer: A Hypothesis. In: Hypothesis in Clinical Medicine. Editors Shoja, Agutter, Tubbs, Ghanei, Ghabili, Harris, Loukas. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; 2011.

Published Abstracts

  1. Edwards T, Gibert M, Ricks-Santi L, McDonald JT. Comparison of potential breast cancer predisposition SNP profiles found in African American versus Caucasian ancestry using TCGA data.12th Annual AACR Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition. April 1, 2017; Washington, D.C.
  2. Beheshti A, Vanderburg C, McDonald JT, Zhang H, Evens AM. Circulating microRNAs Predict the Initiation of NHL in a Novel In Vivo Model: Impact of Age and Sex Via a Systems Biology Approach. Blood. 22(128):4114. 2016.
  3. Passero FC, Dashnamoorthy R, Beheshti A, McDonald JT, Evens AM. Proteasome and HDAC Inhibitor Therapy in T-Cell Lymphoma (TCL) and Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL): Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2 like 2 (NRF2)-Dependent Cell Death and Function. Blood. 22(128):3020. 2016.
  4. Ricks-Santi L, McDonald JT, Prince L, Abbas Muneer, Dunston G. Targeted next-generation sequencing of hotspots in cancer genes in normal-tumor breast cancer patients of African ancestry reveals novel and known mutations. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 25(3 Supplement):Abstract B21. 2016.
  5. McDonald JT, Abbas M, Dunston G, Kanaan Y, Ricks-Santi. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutational spectra in African American men with prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 25(3 Supplement):Abstract B22. 2016.
  6. Mantel A, McDonald JT, Goldsborough K, Pentland AP, Chan J. 697 Prostaglandin D2-enhanced testosterone metabolism in human keratinocytes is mediated by reactive oxygen species. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 136(5):S123. 2016.
  7. Spears M, Ricks-Santi L, McDonald JT. Deleterious consequences of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations via CRISPR-Cas9 in ancestrally distinct triple-negative breast cancer cell lines. In: Proceedings of the Eighth AACR Conference on The Science of Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; Nov 13-16, 2015; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016;25(3 Suppl):Abstract A61.
  8. Beheshti A, Neuberg DS, McDonald JT, Evens AM. The Impact of Age and Sex in DLBCL: Determination of Biologic Dynamics and Delineation of Inter-Connected Signaling Networks Via a Systems Biology Analysis.  Blood. 126(23), 2015.
  9. Kritharis A, McDonald JT, Beheshti A, Pilichowska M, Burgess K, Ricks-Santi L, McNiel E, Dashnamoorthy R, Evens AM.  A Comparative Oncology Analysis of Canine T-Cell Lymphoma (TCL): Immunohistochemical Study and Next Generation Sequencing for Protein Analysis and Genomic Target Discovery. Blood. 126(23). 2015.
  10. Onufrak J, Yang Y, Lee J, Fuseler J, Sun M, Sasi S, McDonald JT, Hlatky, Price R, Carrozza J, Goukassian D, Borg TK, Morgan JP, Yan X. Abstract 56: A dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor induced cardiac hypertrophy in mice: Role of the insulin signaling. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. July 2015; 14, A56.
  11. Gibert MK, Mapp J, Ricks-Santi L, McDonald JT. Examining the roles of deleterious and potentially damaging variant alleles in African and Caucasian ancestral populations.  Eight AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.  November 13-16, 2015; Atlanta, GA. Cancer Research 76 (14 Supplement), 791-791.
  12. McDonald JT, Ricks-Santi LS. Ancestrally derived SNPs influence on Gene Expression in Breast Cancer Data Sets.  AACR Special Conference on Computational Systems Biology of Cancer.  February 8-11, 2015; San Francisco, CA.
  13. McDonald JT, Lee J, Rietman E, et al. Abstract 4340: Increased cytokine and chemokine expression in U87MG glioblastoma cells after large clinically relevant single doses of ionizing radiation. Cancer Research, 72(8):4340, Supplemental 1, Proceedings: AACR 103rd Annual Meeting 2012, March 31-April 4, 2012; Chicago IL.
  14. McDonald JT, Kim K, Norris A, McBride W. Abstract 4823: Nrf2 inducers can modify the radiation response.  Cancer Research, 68(9 Supplemental), 99th AACR Annual Meeting, April 12-16, 2008, San Diego, CA.
  15. Kim K, McDonald JT, Damoiseaux R, Norris A, Iwamoto K, McBride W. Abstract 4212: High throughput screening of small molecule libraries to identify radioprotectors. Cancer Research, 68(9 Supplemental), 99th AACR Annual Meeting, April 12-16, 2008; San Diego, CA.