Board of Regents of the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Regents’ Professor of Medicine, Eason Chair of Oncology, and
Chief of the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Section in the Department of Medicine

Research Projects

Dr. Courtney Houchen led the first studies demonstrating the essential role of the gene, DCLK1, in stemness, (differentiate into other cells), progression, and metastasis in breast, liver, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. DLCK gene regulates transition of cells to becoming cancerous. His lab has demonstrated the functional role of DCLK1 and its use as a therapeutic target for eradication of colorectal, pancreatic, liver, kidney, and other cancers. Furthermore, Dr. Houchen has recently generated and tested specific DLK1 CAR T-cells and has found it to be effective treatment to eradicate human CRCs.

He is collaborating with NFCR-supported scientist, Dr. Avery Posey to develop specific CAR T cells that will attack pancreatic cancer cells with the marker, CEACAM6, as a therapeutic option for patients. Dr. Houchen, an expert in pancreatic cancer biology, is developing pancreatic cancer patient-derived xenografts (PDX) or models of cancer where tissue or cells from patients are implanted into lab subjects.

The CAR T cells will be tested in the PDX models of pancreatic cancer for their effectiveness in binding to and attacking pancreatic tumors and determination of the optimal dose and method to administer the treatment. These results will propel pre-clinical data of the CEACAM6-specific CAR T cells into clinical investigation for a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.


Dr. Courtney W. Houchen is the Regents’ Professor of Medicine, Eason Chair of Oncology, and Chief of the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Section in the Department of Medicine at Oklahoma University School of Medicine. He is also a physician, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

He received his bachelor of science in zoology at Howard University in 1981 and his M.D. in 1990 at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Prior to joining University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in 2006, he was an Assistant Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.

Dr. Houchen was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Faculty Development Award from 1996 to 2000. In 2015 he was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Year in “Pancreatic Cancer Research and Clinical Management”, Shanghai, China. In 2016, he was recognized with the Regents’ Award for Superior Research and Creativity. Since 2017, he has been honored with the Eason Chair, Oncology, The University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.

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Avery D. Posey, Portrait
Avery D. Posey, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania

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