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Tamara Terzian, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Departmental Associations:

Research Interests:

Our laboratory is interested in developing new therapies for pigmentary disorders such as vitiligo and giant congenital nevi (GCN). These diseases are very complex, having few truly safe and effective treatment options, and they affect people of all races, gender and social level. Individuals impacted with these disorders also suffer from psychological distress and feel stigmatized by their condition. Our laboratory is now dissecting the molecular mechanisms that underpin the repigmentation process and GCN development using mouse models of hyperpigmentation and xenografted human skin along with intricate cell culture and drug testing procedures. We hope that our findings will lead to safer and more effective therapies for vitiligo and to new strategies for the management of GCN.  

 I also have a long term research interest in the regulation of p53, a key tumor suppressor and transcription factor. p53 is mutated in over 50% of human cancers and has therefore been the subject of intensive basic and preclinical investigation. Our laboratory is using novel combinations of extant mouse models to examine the role of p53 in tumor initiation, progression and metastasis with the hope of improving cancer therapies that specifically target p53 mutations. This work has to date resulted in 20 relevant publications in some major journals such as Cell, Genes and Development, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Cancer Research.  

Current Laboratory Member:

Karina Tlaxcala Jaquez
Professional Research Assistant
Education :Regis University, Class of 2012
BS in Biochemistry with minors in Mathematics, Biology, and Spanish

Bio:  I am a Dermatology Research Assistant working alongside Drs. Tamara Terzian and Neil Box since April of 2013. My research interests include Cancer Genetics and tumor suppressor p53’s role in tumorgenesis. Specifically, I am interested in the roles and mechanisms of action of p53 and its regulators on tumor initiation and progression.  Prior to joining the lab, I interned in Dr. Dennis Roop’s lab where I expressed gain of function p53 mutants in a skin carcinoma cell line, which sparked my interest in cancer research.

I am an avid advocate of awareness and prevention; and thus, by expanding my knowledge on the matter, I have become a more resourceful, educated individual. Outside the lab, I highly enjoy cooking and exploring the wonderful outdoors that Colorado has to offer.


Ph.D., University of Claude Bernard, Lyon I, France (Biomedical Engineering/Biochemistry), 2001
D.E.A. (Diplôme d’études approfondies), University of Claude Bernard, Lyon I, France (Biomedical Engineering/Biochemistry), 1997

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral fellow, U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA, 2002-2007
Postdoctoral fellow, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO, USA, 2007-2011



  • NIH/NIAMS K01 Career Development Award (07/01/12-06/30/17) 
  • American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (IRG) (01/1/2014-12/31/2014) 
  • NIH funded-University of Colorado Denver Skin Disease Research Center Pilot &Feasibility grant (07/01/12-06/30/13) 
  • NIH/NIAMS Training in Immunodermatology grant (07/01/2010-04/30/2012) 
  • Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) Child and Maternal Health Grant (01/01/2014-12/31/2014)
    Dermatology Foundation Research Grant  (07/01/2014- 06/31/2015​)


​Selected Publications:

  1. Zeron-Medina, J., Wang, X., Repapi, E., Campbell, M.R., Su, D., Castro-Giner, F.C., Davies, B. Peterse, E.F.P., Sacilotto, N., Walker, G.J., Terzian, T., Tomlinson, I.P., Box, N.F., Meinshausen, N., De Val, S. Bell, D.A. and Bond G. (2013) A polymorphic p53 enhancer in the KIT ligand oncogene influences cancer risk and has undergone natural selection. Cell, 155(2):410-422. PMID: 24120139. 
  2. Box NF, Vukmer TO, Terzian, T. (2014) Targeting p53 in melanoma. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. PMID: 24118922. 
  3. Terzian, T.**and Box N. (2013) Ribosomal proteins: Curiouser and Curiouser. PLoS Genetics. Epub 2013 Jan 31. PMID: 23382707. 
  4. Terzian, T. and Lozano G. (2012) Mutant p53 driven mutagenesis. Book Chapter in “p53 in the clinic” IARC Press, Lyon, France. Editors: Pierre Hainaut and Margali Olivier.  
  5. Terzian, T., Dumble M., Arbab F., Thaller C., Donehower L.A., Lozano G., Justice M.J., Roop D.R., and Box N.F. (2011) Rpl27a mutation in the Sooty Foot Ataxia mouse phenocopies high p53 mouse models. J. Pathol. 224(4):540-552. PMID 21674502.  #
  6. Suh Y.A., Post S.M., Elizondo-Fraire A.C., El-Naggar A.K., Terzian, T., and Lozano G. (2011) Multiple stress signals activate mutant p53 in vivo. Cancer Res. 71:7168-75. PMID: 21983037. #
  7. Terzian, T. and Lozano G. (2010) Building p53. Genes Dev. 24, 229-32. PMID 20952532. 
  8. Wang Y. Suh, Y., Fuller M., Jackson J.G., Xiong S.,Terzian, T., Quintás-Cardama A., Bankson J.A. El-Naggar A.K. and Lozano G. (2011) Restoring expression of wild-type p53 suppresses tumor growth but does not cause tumor regression in mice with a p53 missense mutation. J Clin Invest. 121: 893-904. PMID 21285512. 
  9. Torchia E.C., Caulin C., Acin S., Terzian, T., Kubick B.J., Box N.F., Roop D.R. (2011) Myc, Aurora Kinase-A, and mutant p53R172H co-operate in a mouse model of metastatic skin carcinoma. Oncogene. PMID: 21963848.  
  10. Walker G.J., Soyer H.P., Terzian, T. and Box N.F. (2011) Modeling melanoma in mice. Pigment Cell and Melanoma Res. PMID: 21985222. 24:1158-76. 
  11. Terzian, T., Torchia E.C., Daisy D., Robinson S.E., Murao K., Stiegmann R., Gonzalez V., Boyle G.M., Pollock P.M., Lozano G., Robinson W.A., Roop D.R., and Box N.F. (2010) p53 mediates its effects on melanoma tumor suppression predominantly through cell cycle control. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 23(6):781-94. PMID 20849464. 
  12. Post S.M., Quintás-Cardama A., Terzian, T., Smith C., Eischen C.M., and Lozano G. (2010) p53-dependent senescence delays Eμ-myc induced B-cell lymphomagenesis. Oncogene 29, 1260-1269. PMID 19935700. 
  13. Valentin-Vega Y.A., Box N., Terzian, T., and Lozano G. (2009) Mdm4 loss in the intestinal epithelium leads to compartmentalized cell death but no tissue abnormalities. Differentiation 77, 442-449. PMID 19371999. 
  14. Terzian, T.*, Suh Y., Iwakuma T., Post S.M., Neumann M., Lang G., Van Pelt C. S., and Lozano, G. (2008) The inherent instability of mutant p53 is alleviated by Mdm2 or p16INK4a loss. Genes Dev. 22, 1337-1344. PMID 18483220. 
  15. Box N.F. and Terzian, T. The role of p53 in pigmentation, tanning and melanoma. (2008) Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 21(5):525-33. PMID 18761658. 
  16. Iwakuma T., Tochigi Y., Van Pelt C.S., Caldwell L.C., Terzian, T.,Parant J.M., Chau G.P., Koch J.G., Eischen C.M., and Lozano G. (2008) Mtbp haploinsufficiency in mice increases tumor metastasis. Oncogene, 27, 1813-1820. PMID 17906694. 
  17. Barboza J., Iwakuma T., Terzian, T., El-Naggar A., and Lozano G. (2008) Mdm2 and Mdm4 loss regulates distinct p53 activities. Mol. Can. Res. 6, 947-954. PMID 18567799. 
  18. Terzian, T., Wang Y., Van Pelt C. S., Box N.F., Travis E.L. and Lozano G. (2007) Haploinsufficiency of Mdm2 and Mdm4 in tumorigenesis and development. Mol. Cell. Biol. 27, 5479-5485. 
  19. Liu G., Terzian, T. *, Xiong S., Van Pelt C.S., Audiffred A., Box N. and Lozano G. (2007) The p53-Mdm2 network in progenitor cell expansion during mouse postnatal development. J. Pathol. 213, 360-368. 
  20. Lang G.A., Iwakuma T., Suh Y., Liu G., Rao, V.A., Parant J.M., Valentin-Vega Y.A., Terzian, T., Caldwell, L.C., Strong L.C., El-Naggar A.K., and Lozano, G. (2004) Gain of function of a p53 hot spot mutation in a mouse model of Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Cell 119, 861–872. PMID 15607981. 

      * Editorial commentary in the same issue; **Corresponding author; # Cover issue.