University of Nebraska Medical Center

Michel Ouellette, PhD

Professor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology


Michel Ouellette, PhD

Dr. Ouellette's research is focused on two separate aspects of cancer research: The biology of telomeres and telomerase and the biochemistry of the Kras/Rac1 pathway. In the context of pancreatic cancer cells, his lab is currently studying the role of these systems in the development of the tumors and their potential value as therapeutic targets for the treatment of the disease.

Telomerase is responsible for the maintenance of telomeres, which are specialized structures that cap and protect the ends of chromosomes. Because most human cells lack telomerase, telomeres shorten each time cells divide and this shortening limits the lifespan of normal human cells. During cancer development, this obstacle to infinite proliferation is almost always overcome by the aberrant reexpression of telomerase. To limit the lifespan of pancreatic cancer cells, his laboratory is testing novel strategies to block telomerase in cancer cells. Pancreatic cancer development is initiated by the acquisition of oncogenic mutations in the Kras gene, which causes activation of the Kras GTPase and of its downstream effectors. Among the critical pathways activated by these mutations in pancreatic cancer cells is a Kras/Rac1/YAP pathway, which they have now shown plays a critical role in the malignant transformation, long-term survival, and therapeutic responses of pancreatic tumor cells.

In collaboration with other groups, Dr. Ouellette's lab is developing drugs that block this pathway for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.


Active Grant Support


  • "PR55-alpha controlled PP2A in the regulation of the Hippo/YAP pathway" Co-Investigator (Yan), DHHS/NIH/NIGMS
  • "Cancer Biology Training Program" Co-Investigator (Black), DHHS/NIH/NCI
  • "RAC1 GTPase in tumorigenesis and progression of pancreatic cancer" Principal Investigator, DHHS/NIH/NCI
  • "Role of PD2/Paf1 in Pancreatic Acinar to Ductal Metaplasia" Co-Investigator (Palanimuthu Ponnusam), DHHS/NIH/NCI
  • "Rho GTPases in the radioresponse of pancreatic cancer" Principal Investigator, NE DHHS - LB506
  • "Negative regulation of PR55-alpha protein stability by p53 tumor suppressor" Co-Investigator (Yan), NE DHHS - LB506


  • "GSK3-LZTR1 axis in Ras-driven cancers" Principal Investigator, DHHS/NIH/NIGMS
  • "Regulation of Migration and Growth by APLP2" Co-Investigator (Solheim), DHHS/NIH
  • "Regulation of PR55-alpha expression by p53 and its biological significance" Co-Investigator (Yan), DHHS/NIH/NIGMS
  • "Rho GTPases in the regulation of Claspin stability" Principal Investigator, DHHS/NIH/NCI
  • "Regulation of Rasprotein stability in pancreatic cancer" Principal Investigator, NE DHHS - LB506
  • BS: Biochemistry, Université de Montrealéa, Montreal, Canada, 1984
  • PhD: Biochemistry, Université de Montrealéa, Montreal, Canada, 1991
  • Post-doctoral: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, 1999