University of California San Diego

Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA
Chair, Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology
Assistant Professor, Cancer Genetics and Genomics

Research Projects

Dr. Gutkind is a leader in cancer signaling, particularly at the intersection of tumor growth and immune evasion, which can be exploited for the development of novel multimodal precision immunotherapies. He is recognized for his pioneering work revealing the potent oncogenic (pro-cancer) activity of G proteins and G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and by his studies unraveling the molecular mechanisms by which they promote normal and malignant cell growth.

He previously discovered that most oral cancer lesions display persistent activation of the signaling network called PI3K–AKT–mTOR. As part of his translation efforts, Dr. Gutkind has led a multi institutional clinical trial establishing the benefits of treating oral cancer patients with mTOR inhibitors and he is leading a precision prevention trial in oral premalignancy.

Now with NFCR support and in collaboration with Dr. Teresa Davoli, the two teams focus on deciphering how the loss of chromosome 9p enables oral cancer cells to resist the immune system, specifically, the new ‘immune checkpoint inhibitors’ (ICIs).

Dr. Gutkind is developing different mouse models with the 9p chromosome loss and other gene alterations. With these models that closely mimic human cancer, the team can investigate how the oral cancer cells evade the immune system.

The collaborative research of Drs. Davoli and Gutkind may lead to the identification of novel treatment options and preventive strategies for oral cancer and other types of cancer associated with loss of chromosome 9p.


J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor, Department of Pharmacology at University of California San Diego (UCSD) since 2019 and Chair of the Department since 2020. He is the Associate Director of Basic Science, UCSD Moores Cancer Center and Co-Director of the Head and Neck Center.

J. Silvio Gutkind received his Ph.D. in Pharmacy and Biochemistry in 1985 from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He served as Branch Chief of the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), NIH, prior to his recruitment to UCSD in 2015.
He has published over 500 original studies and review articles in some of the prestigious journals. Dr. Gutkind has received numerous awards among his election in 2019 to the National Academy of Medicine in recognition of his team’s translational efforts in the area of cancer signaling. In 2020, he received the Certificate of recognition, United States Senate, for outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical sciences, health care, and public health.

Our approach emphasizes a collaborative, team environment to accelerate new breakthroughs.


Teresa Davoli, Ph.D New York University School of Medicine