PhD (2013) Molecular
Genetics & Microbiology, University of Florida
Research Interests: ovarian cancer, epigenetics,
therapy resistance, tumor microenvironment, tumor-adipocyte interaction, immune
Dr. Watson’s graduate work at the University of
Florida involved epigenetic control of herpes simplex virus latency and
reactivation. He also examined the use of ribozymes as a novel therapy to
prevent HSV reactivation. In 2014, he began postdoctoral training at the University
of Colorado, exploring DNA methylation and chemokine signaling in
HPV-associated head and neck cancers. In 2017, he joined Dr. Benjamin Bitler’s
lab in the DRS and continued his postdoctoral training. He has applied his
expertise in epigenetics to examine how histone modifying enzymes promote therapy
resistance in ovarian cancers. Recently promoted to Instructor, Dr. Watson is
continuing his efforts in epigenetics and ovarian cancer, but is also
establishing new collaborations and lines of research, including exploring the
influence of adipocytes and the tumor microenvironment on ovarian cancer
Watson ZL, Yamamoto TM, McMellen A, Kim H, Hughes CJ,
Wheeler LJ, Post MD, Behbakht K, Bitler BG. Histone methyltransferases EHMT1
and EHMT2 (GLP/G9A) maintain PARP inhibitor resistance in high grade serous
ovarian cancer. Clinical Epigenetics.
Provisionally accepted/In revision.
Wheeler LJ, Watson ZL, Qamar L, Yamamoto TM, Sawyer
BT, Sullivan KD, Khanal S, Joshi M, Ferchaud-Roucher V, Smith H, Vanderlinden
LA, Brubaker SW, Caino CM, Kim H, Espinosa JM, Richer JK, Bitler BG. Multi-omic
approaches identify metabolic and autophagy regulators important in ovarian
cancer dissemination. iScience.
2019 Aug 6. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.07.049.
Yamamoto TM, McMellen A, Watson
ZL, Aguilera J, Ferguson R, Nurmemmedov E, Thakar T, Moldovan GL, Kim H,
Citelly DM, Joglar AM, Brennecke EP, Wilson H, Behbakht K, Sikora MJ, Bitler
BG. Molecular Carcinogenesis. 2019 Jun 10. doi: 10.1002/mc.23064.
Watson ZL, Bitler BG. Commentary
on: Type I Protein Arginine Methyltransferases Overexpression Promotes
Transformation and Potentiates Her2/Neu-Driven Tumorigenesis. Cancer
Research. 2019 Jan 1. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-3552.
Wheeler LJ, Watson ZL, Qamar L, Yamamoto TM, Post MD, Berning AA, Spillman MA,
Behbakht K, Bitler BG. CBX2
identified as driver of anoikis escape and dissemination in high grade serous
ovarian cancer. Oncogenesis. 2018 Nov 26. doi:
Bitler BG, Watson ZL,
Wheeler LJ, Behbakht K. PARP inhibitors: Clinical utility and possibilities of
overcoming resistance. Gynecologic Oncology. 2017 Oct 14. doi: