James M Olson, MD, PhD

James M Olson, MD, PhD

Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Brain Tumor Program

On staff since July 1999

Academic Title: Professor

Research Title: Principal Investigator, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research

Research Center: Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research

"My clinical goal has always been to help families and our oncology team make the best possible decisions at every point, so that each child’s opportunity to survive is maximized. Pediatric cancer patients treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital experience an approximately 10% higher survival rate than the national average. I'm in good company among the doctors and nurses who care for our patients. My initial laboratory career goal was to improve survival for one group of pediatric brain tumor patients by 10% through our laboratory efforts. We surpassed that goal by improving 5-year survival for Group 3 high-risk medulloblastoma patients by 20% and increasing survival of infants and toddlers with M0 medulloblasatoma by more than 80% (the rate was roughly 40% when I started at Children’s). Motivated by the kids I see in clinic each week, I have expanded my career goals: 1) Discover a drug that makes brain tumors “light up” so that surgeons can easily distinguish cancer from normal brain. Our candidate, Tumor Paint (or Tozuleristide), is currently in the final human clinical trial that could lead to FDA registration; 2) Discover a drug that instructs a child’s own immune cells to kill cancer cells without chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Our first candidate completely eliminated pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cells in laboratory models and led to 80-100% survival in multiple models. This investigational drug candidate is advancing toward human clinical trials. 3) Build the platforms that lead to at least two other therapeutic candidates that reach human clinical trials. We could not have accomplished the above without a deep and lasting partnership with the families and communities of pediatric brain tumor patients who were treated at Seattle Children’s."

  • Biography

    James M. Olson, MD, PhD, is program director for the Invent at Seattle Children's Postdoctoral Scholars Program, a principal investigator in the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, and a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.  He co-founded three biotechnology companies: Presage Biosciences, Blaze Bioscience, and Link Immunotherapeutics.

    Dr. Olson has mentored more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows. He chaired a national phase III clinical trial for high-risk medulloblastoma patients that led to a 20% improvement in five-year survival for Group 3 patients. Dr. Olson is the principal investigator on multiple projects that focus on developing effective new therapies for pediatric brain tumors; methods that allow surgeons to better visualize the border of brain cancer and normal brain (“Tumor Paint," or Tozuleristide); and the discovery of immunotherapeutics for pediatric AML, neuroblastoma, and other cancers.


    • Related Pages

    • The Olson Lab

      The Olson Lab’s current work focuses on discovering novel therapeutics for pediatric cancers and, more broadly, on discovering protein/peptide therapeutics for a wide range of pediatric diseases.

  • Patient Testimonials
  • Awards and Honors
    Award Name Award Description Awarded By Award Date
    University of Michigan Regents Fellowship
    Midwest Student Medical Research Forum XVII Award
    American Academy of Pediatrics Resident Research Award
    Child Health Research Center New Investigator Award
    Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award
    Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow
    Emily Dorfman Fellow, American Brain Tumor Association
    Medical Student Research Program Award
    Children's Oncology Group Young Investigators Award
    Duncan McCarthy Award for Pharmacology Research
    Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in Biomedical Sciences
    Nu Sigma Nu Medical Fraternity Scholarship in International Health
  • Publications

    Manuscripts in Refereed Journals

    • Dey J, Dubuc AM, Pedro KD, Thirstrup D, Mecham B, Northcott PA, Wu X, Shih D, Tapscott SJ, LeBlanc M, Taylor MD, Olson JM
      MyoD is a tumor suppressor gene in medulloblastoma.
      24092238 Cancer research, 2013 Nov. : 73(22)6828-37
    • Hubert CG, Bradley RK, Ding Y, Toledo CM, Herman J, Skutt-Kakaria K, Girard EJ, Davison J, Berndt J, Corrin P, Hardcastle J, Basom R, Delrow JJ, Webb T, Pollard SM, Lee J, Olson JM, Paddison PJ
      Genome-wide RNAi screens in human brain tumor isolates reveal a novel viability requirement for PHF5A.
      23651857 Genes and development, 2013 May : 27(9)1032-45 PMCID:PMC3656321
    • Aref D, Moffatt CJ, Agnihotri S, Ramaswamy V, Dubuc AM, Northcott PA, Taylor MD, Perry A, Olson JM, Eberhart CG, Croul SE
      Canonical TGF- pathway activity is a predictor of SHH-driven medulloblastoma survival and delineates putative precursors in cerebellar development.
      22966790 Brain pathology (Zurich, Switzerland), 2013 March : 23(2)178-91
    • Lee SJ, Lindsey S, Graves B, Yoo S, Olson JM, Langhans SA
      Sonic hedgehog-induced histone deacetylase activation is required for cerebellar granule precursor hyperplasia in medulloblastoma.
      23951168 PloS one, 2013 : 8(8)e71455 PMCID:PMC3739791
    • Hatton BA, Villavicencio EH, Pritchard J, LeBlanc M, Hansen S, Ulrich M, Ditzler S, Pullar B, Stroud MR, Olson JM
      Notch signaling is not essential in sonic hedgehog-activated medulloblastoma.
      20440271 Oncogene, 2010 July : 29(26)3865-72 PMCID:PMC2896441
    • Ravanpay AC, Hansen SJ, Olson JM
      Transcriptional inhibition of REST by NeuroD2 during neuronal differentiation.
      20346398 Molecular and cellular neurosciences, 2010 June : 44(2)178-89 PMCID:PMC2866295
    • Lee MJ, Veiseh O, Bhattarai N, Sun C, Hansen SJ, Ditzler S, Knoblaugh S, Lee D, Ellenbogen R, Zhang M, Olson JM
      Rapid pharmacokinetic and biodistribution studies using cholorotoxin-conjugated iron oxide nanoparticles: a novel non-radioactive method.
      20209054 PloS one, 2010 March : 5(3)e9536 PMCID:PMC2832013
    • Diede SJ, Guenthoer J, Geng LN, Mahoney SE, Marotta M, Olson JM, Tanaka H, Tapscott SJ
      DNA methylation of developmental genes in pediatric medulloblastomas identified by denaturation analysis of methylation differences.
      19966297 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010 Jan. : 107(1)234-9 PMCID:PMC2806770
    • Veiseh, O., Sun, C., Fang, C., Bhattarai, N., Gunn, J., Kievit, F., Du, K., Pullar, B., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R.G., Olson, J., Zhang, M.
      Specific targeting of brain tumors with an optical/magnetic resonance imaging nanoprobe across the blood-brain barrier.
      Cancer Res, 2009 : 69(15) PMCID:PMC2742601
    • Sun, C., Fang, C., Stephen, Z., Veiseh, O., Hansen, S., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R.G., Olson, J., Zhang, M.
      Tumor-targeted drug delivery and MRI contrast enhancement by chlorotoxin-conjugated iron oxide nanoparticles.
      Nanomedicine, 2008 : 3(4)495-505 PMCID:PMC2890026
    • Sun, C., Veiseh, O., Gunn, J., Fang, C., Hansen, S., Lee, D., Sze, R., Ellenbogen, J., Olson, J., Zhang, M.
      In vivo MRI detection of gliomas by chlorotoxin-conjugated superparamagnetic nanoprobes.
      Small, 2008 : 4(3)372-379 PMCID:PMCID: PMC2692358.
    • Hatton, B.A., Pritchard, J.I., Olson, J.M.
      Nervous system cancer models: medulloblastoma.
      Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models, 2006 : 3(2)167-74
    • Strand, A.D., Aragaki, A.K., Baquet, Z.C., Hodges, A., Cunningham, P., Holmans, P., Jones, K.R., Jones, L., Kooperberg, C., Olson, J.M.
      Regional and cellular gene expression changes in human Huntington's disease brain.
      Human Molecular Genetics, 2006 : 15(6)965-77
    • Veiseh, O., Sun, C., Gunn, J., Kohler, N., Gabikian, P., Lee, D., Bhattarai, N., Ellenbogen, R., Sze, R., Hallahan, A., Olson, J., Zhang, M.
      An optical and MRI multifunctional nanoprobe for targeting gliomas.
      Nano Letters, 2005 : 5(6)1003-1008
    • Kiehl, T.-K., Olson, J.M., and Pulst, S.-M.
      The Hereditary Disease Array Group (HDAG) - Microarrays, Models and Mechanisms: A Collaboration Update.
      Current Genomics, 2001 : (2)221-229
    • Olson, J.M., McNeel, W., Young, A.B., and Mancini, W.R.
      Localization of PK 11195 binding sites to mitochondria of human glioma cells.
      J. Neuro-Oncology, 1992 : (13)32-42
    • Junck, L., Olson, J.M., Ciliax, B.J., Koeppe, R.A., Watkins, G.L., Jewett, J.M., McKeever, P.E., Wieland, D.M., Kilbourn, M.R., Mancini, W.R., Kuhl, D.E., Greenberg, H.S., and Young, A.B.
      Positron emission tomographic imaging of human gliomas with ligands for the peripheral benzodiazepine binding site.
      Annals Neurol., 1989 : (26)752-758
    • Olson, J.M., Ciliax, B.J., Mancini, W.R., and Young, A.B.
      Presence of peripheral-type benzodiazepine binding sites on human erythrocytes.
      Eur. J. Pharmacol., 1988 : (152)47-53
    • Olson, J.M., Greenamyre, J.T., Penney, J.B., and Young, A.B.
      Autoradiographic localization of cerebellar excitatory amino acid binding sites in the mouse.
      Neurosci., 1987 : 22913-923
    • Greenamyre, J.T., Olson, J.M., Penney, J.B., and Young, A.B.
      Autoradiographic characterization of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate-, quisqualate-, and kainate-sensitive glutamate binding sites
      J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 1985 : 233254-263

    Manuscripts Submitted

    • Hansen, SJ, Stroud, MR, Gafken, PR, Milless, BP, Knoblaugh, SE, Olson, JM.
      Development and Evaluation of Chlorotoxin-based Tumor-specific Molecular Imaging Probes

    Other Publications

    • Ding Y, Hubert CG, Herman J, Corrin P, Toledo CM, Skutt-Kakaria K, Vazquez J, Basom R, Zhang B, Risler JK, Pollard SM, Nam DH, Delrow JJ, Zhu J, Lee J, DeLuca J, Olson JM, Paddison PJ
      Cancer-Specific requirement for BUB1B/BUBR1 in human brain tumor isolates and genetically transformed cells.
      23154965 Cancer discovery, 2013 Feb. : 3(2)198-211 PMCID:PMC3632446
    • Dey J, Ditzler S, Knoblaugh SE, Hatton BA, Schelter JM, Cleary MA, Mecham B, Rorke-Adams LB, Olson JM
      A distinct Smoothened mutation causes severe cerebellar developmental defects and medulloblastoma in a novel transgenic mouse model.
      22869526 Molecular and cellular biology, 2012 Oct. : 32(20)4104-15 PMCID:PMC3457348
    • Northcott PA, Shih DJ, Peacock J, Garzia L, Morrissy AS, Zichner T, Stütz AM, Korshunov A, Reimand J, Schumacher SE, Beroukhim R, Ellison DW, Marshall CR, Lionel AC, Mack S, Dubuc A, Yao Y, Ramaswamy V, Luu B, Rolider A, Cavalli FM, Wang X, Remke M, Wu X, Chiu RY, Chu A, Chuah E, Corbett RD, Hoad GR, Jackman SD, Li Y, Lo A, Mungall KL, Nip KM, Qian JQ, Raymond AG, Thiessen NT, Varhol RJ, Birol I, Moore RA, Mungall AJ, Holt R, Kawauchi D, Roussel MF, Kool M, Jones DT, Witt H, Fernandez-L A, Kenney AM, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Dirks P, Aviv T, Grajkowska WA, Perek-Polnik M, Haberler CC, Delattre O, Reynaud SS, Doz FF, Pernet-Fattet SS, Cho BK, Kim SK, Wang KC, Scheurlen W, Eberhart CG, Fèvre-Montange M, Jouvet A, Pollack IF, Fan X, Muraszko KM, Gillespie GY, Di Rocco C, Massimi L, Michiels EM, Kloosterhof NK, French PJ, Kros JM, Olson JM, Ellenbogen RG, Zitterbart K, Kren L, Thompson RC, Cooper MK, Lach B, McLendon RE, Bigner DD, Fontebasso A, Albrecht S, Jabado N, Lindsey JC, Bailey S, Gupta N, Weiss WA, Bognár L, Klekner A, Van Meter TE, Kumabe T, Tominaga T, Elbabaa SK, Leonard JR, Rubin JB, Liau LM, Van Meir EG, Fouladi M, Nakamura H, Cinalli G, Garami M, Hauser P, Saad AG, Iolascon A, Jung S, Carlotti CG, Vibhakar R, Ra YS, Robinson S, Zollo M, Faria CC, Chan JA, Levy ML, Sorensen PH, Meyerson M, Pomeroy SL, Cho YJ, Bader GD, Tabori U, Hawkins CE, Bouffet E, Scherer SW, Rutka JT, Malkin D, Clifford SC, Jones SJ, Korbel JO, Pfister SM, Marra MA, Taylor MD
      Subgroup-specific structural variation across 1,000 medulloblastoma genomes.
      22832581 Nature, 2012 Aug 2 : 488(7409)49-56 PMCID:PMC3683624
    • Lee MJ, Hatton BA, Villavicencio EH, Khanna PC, Friedman SD, Ditzler S, Pullar B, Robison K, White KF, Tunkey C, LeBlanc M, Randolph-Habecker J, Knoblaugh SE, Hansen S, Richards A, Wainwright BJ, McGovern K, Olson JM
      Hedgehog pathway inhibitor saridegib (IPI-926) increases lifespan in a mouse medulloblastoma model.
      22550175 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2012 May 15 : 109(20)7859-64 PMCID:PMC3356655
    • Leary SE, Olson JM
      The molecular classification of medulloblastoma: driving the next generation clinical trials.
      22189395 Current opinion in pediatrics, 2012 Feb. : 24(1)33-9 PMCID:PMC3348176
    • Stroud MR, Hansen SJ, Olson JM
      In vivo bio-imaging using chlorotoxin-based conjugates.
      22204434 Current pharmaceutical design, 2011 Dec. : 17(38)4362-71 PMCID:PMC3272502
    • Paugh BS, Broniscer A, Qu C, Miller CP, Zhang J, Tatevossian RG, Olson JM, Geyer JR, Chi SN, da Silva NS, Onar-Thomas A, Baker JN, Gajjar A, Ellison DW, Baker SJ
      Genome-wide analyses identify recurrent amplifications of receptor tyrosine kinases and cell-cycle regulatory genes in diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
      21931021 Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2011 Oct 20 : 29(30)3999-4006 PMCID:PMC3209696
    • Fouladi M, Stewart CF, Olson J, Wagner LM, Onar-Thomas A, Kocak M, Packer RJ, Goldman S, Gururangan S, Gajjar A, Demuth T, Kun LE, Boyett JM, Gilbertson RJ
      Phase I trial of MK-0752 in children with refractory CNS malignancies: a pediatric brain tumor consortium study.
      21825264 Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2011 Sep 10 : 29(26)3529-34 PMCID:PMC3179253
    • Lee SJ, Krauthauser C, Maduskuie V, Fawcett PT, Olson JM, Rajasekaran SA
      Curcumin-induced HDAC inhibition and attenuation of medulloblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo.
      21501498 BMC cancer, 2011 Apr 18 : 11144 PMCID:PMC3090367
    • Cho YJ, Tsherniak A, Tamayo P, Santagata S, Ligon A, Greulich H, Berhoukim R, Amani V, Goumnerova L, Eberhart CG, Lau CC, Olson JM, Gilbertson RJ, Gajjar A, Delattre O, Kool M, Ligon K, Meyerson M, Mesirov JP, Pomeroy SL
      Integrative genomic analysis of medulloblastoma identifies a molecular subgroup that drives poor clinical outcome.
      21098324 Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2011 Apr 10 : 29(11)1424-30 PMCID:PMC3082983
    • Wu C, Hansen SJ, Hou Q, Yu J, Zeigler M, Jin Y, Burnham DR, McNeill JD, Olson JM, Chiu DT
      Design of highly emissive polymer dot bioconjugates for in vivo tumor targeting.
      21381164 Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 2011 Apr 4 : 50(15)3430-4 PMCID:PMC3095208
    • Akcan M, Stroud MR, Hansen SJ, Clark RJ, Daly NL, Craik DJ, Olson JM
      Chemical re-engineering of chlorotoxin improves bioconjugation properties for tumor imaging and targeted therapy.
      21210710 Journal of medicinal chemistry, 2011 Feb 10 : 54(3)782-7 PMCID:PMC3086956
    • Giussani C, Poliakov A, Ferri RT, Plawner LL, Browd SR, Shaw DW, Filardi TZ, Hoeppner C, Geyer JR, Olson JM, Douglas JG, Villavicencio EH, Ellenbogen RG, Ojemann JG
      DTI fiber tracking to differentiate demyelinating diseases from diffuse brain stem glioma.
      20363335 NeuroImage, 2010 Aug 1 : 52(1)217-23
    • Benn CL, Luthi-Carter R, Kuhn A, Sadri-Vakili G, Blankson KL, Dalai SC, Goldstein DR, Spires TL, Pritchard J, Olson JM, van Dellen A, Hannan AJ, Cha JH
      Environmental enrichment reduces neuronal intranuclear inclusion load but has no effect on messenger RNA expression in a mouse model of Huntington disease.
      20613636 Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology, 2010 Aug. : 817-27
    • Benn CL, Luthi-Carter R, Kuhn A, Sadri-Vakili G, Blankson KL, Dalai SC, Goldstein DR, Spires TL, Pritchard J, Olson JM, van Dellen A, Hannan AJ, Cha JH
      Environmental enrichment reduces neuronal intranuclear inclusion load but has no effect on messenger RNA expression in a mouse model of Huntington disease.
      20613636 Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology, 2010 Aug. : 69(8)817-27
    • Kievit FM, Veiseh O, Bhattarai N, Fang C, Gunn JW, Lee D, Ellenbogen RG, Olson JM, Zhang M
      PEI-PEG-Chitosan Copolymer Coated Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Safe Gene Delivery: synthesis, complexation, and transfection.
      20160995 Advanced functional materials, 2009 Jul 24 : 19(14)2244-2251 PMCID:PMC2756666
    • Ravanpay AC, Olson JM
      E protein dosage influences brain development more than family member identity.
      18214987 Journal of neuroscience research, 2008 May 15 : 1472-81
    • Spiller SE, Ditzler SH, Pullar BJ, Olson JM
      Response of preclinical medulloblastoma models to combination therapy with 13-cis retinoic acid and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA).
      18060600 Journal of neuro-oncology, 2008 April : 133-41
    • Hatton BA, Villavicencio EH, Tsuchiya KD, Pritchard JI, Ditzler S, Pullar B, Hansen S, Knoblaugh SE, Lee D, Eberhart CG, Hallahan AR, Olson JM
      The Smo/Smo model: hedgehog-induced medulloblastoma with 90% incidence and leptomeningeal spread.
      18339857 Cancer research, 2008 Mar 15 : 1768-76
    • Pritchard JI, Olson JM
      Methylation of PTCH1, the Patched-1 gene, in a panel of primary medulloblastomas.
      18068533 Cancer genetics and cytogenetics, 2008 Jan 1 : 47-50
    • Strand AD, Baquet ZC, Aragaki AK, Holmans P, Yang L, Cleren C, Beal MF, Jones L, Kooperberg C, Olson JM, Jones KR
      Expression profiling of Huntington's disease models suggests that brain-derived neurotrophic factor depletion plays a major role in striatal degeneration.
      17959817 The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2007 Oct 24 : 11758-68
    • Prakash A, Piening B, Whiteaker J, Zhang H, Shaffer SA, Martin D, Hohmann L, Cooke K, Olson JM, Hansen S, Flory MR, Lee H, Watts J, Goodlett DR, Aebersold R, Paulovich A, Schwikowski B
      Assessing bias in experiment design for large scale mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics.
      17617667 Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP, 2007 Oct. : 1741-8
    • Kuhn A, Goldstein DR, Hodges A, Strand AD, Sengstag T, Kooperberg C, Becanovic K, Pouladi MA, Sathasivam K, Cha JH, Hannan AJ, Hayden MR, Leavitt BR, Dunnett SB, Ferrante RJ, Albin R, Shelbourne P, Delorenzi M, Augood SJ, Faull RL, Olson JM, Bates GP, Jones L, Luthi-Carter R
      Mutant huntingtin's effects on striatal gene expression in mice recapitulate changes observed in human Huntington's disease brain and do not differ with mutant huntingtin length or wild-type huntingtin dosage.
      17519223 Human molecular genetics, 2007 Aug. : 16(15)1845-61
    • Veiseh M, Gabikian P, Bahrami SB, Veiseh O, Zhang M, Hackman RC, Ravanpay AC, Stroud MR, Kusuma Y, Hansen SJ, Kwok D, Munoz NM, Sze RW, Grady WM, Greenberg NM, Ellenbogen RG, Olson JM
      Tumor paint: a chlorotoxin:Cy5.5 bioconjugate for intraoperative visualization of cancer foci.
      17638899 Cancer research, 2007 Jul 15 : 6882-8
    • Kaltenbach LS, Romero E, Becklin RR, Chettier R, Bell R, Phansalkar A, Strand A, Torcassi C, Savage J, Hurlburt A, Cha GH, Ukani L, Chepanoske CL, Zhen Y, Sahasrabudhe S, Olson J, Kurschner C, Ellerby LM, Peltier JM, Botas J, Hughes RE
      Huntingtin interacting proteins are genetic modifiers of neurodegeneration.
      17500595 PLoS genetics, 2007 May 11 : 3(5)e82 PMCID:PMC1866352
    • Strand AD, Aragaki AK, Baquet ZC, Hodges A, Cunningham P, Holmans P, Jones KR, Jones L, Kooperberg C, Olson JM
      Conservation of regional gene expression in mouse and human brain.
      17447843 PLoS genetics, 2007 Apr 20 : 3(4)e59 PMCID:PMC1853119
    • Hatton BA, Knoepfler PS, Kenney AM, Rowitch DH, de Alborán IM, Olson JM, Eisenman RN
      N-myc is an essential downstream effector of Shh signaling during both normal and neoplastic cerebellar growth.
      16951180 Cancer research, 2006 Sep 1 : 8655-61
    • Spiller SE, Ravanpay AC, Hahn AW, Olson JM
      Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid is effective in preclinical studies of medulloblastoma.
      16645722 Journal of neuro-oncology, 2006 Sept. : 259-70
    • Lin CH, Tapscott SJ, Olson JM
      Congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism) in neuroD2-deficient mice.
      16705180 Molecular and cellular biology, 2006 June : 4311-5
    • Jones L, Goldstein DR, Hughes G, Strand AD, Collin F, Dunnett SB, Kooperberg C, Aragaki A, Olson JM, Augood SJ, Faull RL, Luthi-Carter R, Moskvina V, Hodges AK
      Assessment of the relationship between pre-chip and post-chip quality measures for Affymetrix GeneChip expression data.
      16623940 BMC bioinformatics, 2006 Apr 19 : 211
    • Fan W, Khalid N, Hallahan AR, Olson JM, Zhao LP
      A statistical method for predicting splice variants between two groups of samples using GeneChip expression array data.
      16603076 Theoretical biology & medical modelling, 2006 Apr 7 : 19
    • Hodges A, Strand AD, Aragaki AK, Kuhn A, Sengstag T, Hughes G, Elliston LA, Hartog C, Goldstein DR, Thu D, Hollingsworth ZR, Collin F, Synek B, Holmans PA, Young AB, Wexler NS, Delorenzi M, Kooperberg C, Augood SJ, Faull RL, Olson JM, Jones L, Luthi-Carter R
      Regional and cellular gene expression changes in human Huntington's disease brain.
      16467349 Human molecular genetics, 2006 Mar 15 : 965-77
    • Ince-Dunn G, Hall BJ, Hu SC, Ripley B, Huganir RL, Olson JM, Tapscott SJ, Ghosh A
      Regulation of thalamocortical patterning and synaptic maturation by NeuroD2.
      16504944 Neuron, 2006 Mar 2 : 683-95
    • Apostol BL, Illes K, Pallos J, Bodai L, Wu J, Strand A, Schweitzer ES, Olson JM, Kazantsev A, Marsh JL, Thompson LM
      Mutant huntingtin alters MAPK signaling pathways in PC12 and striatal cells: ERK1/2 protects against mutant huntingtin-associated toxicity.
      16330479 Human molecular genetics, 2006 Jan 15 : 273-85
    • Douglas JG, Rockhill JK, Olson JM, Ellenbogen RG, Geyer JR
      Cisplatin-based chemotherapy followed by focal, reduced-dose irradiation for pediatric primary central nervous system germinomas.
      16394891 Journal of pediatric hematology/oncology : official journal of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 2006 Jan. : 36-9
    • Valenza M, Rigamonti D, Goffredo D, Zuccato C, Fenu S, Jamot L, Strand A, Tarditi A, Woodman B, Racchi M, Mariotti C, Di Donato S, Corsini A, Bates G, Pruss R, Olson JM, Sipione S, Tartari M, Cattaneo E
      Dysfunction of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway in Huntington's disease.
      16251441 The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2005 Oct 26 : 9932-9
    • Benn CL, Landles C, Li H, Strand AD, Woodman B, Sathasivam K, Li SH, Ghazi-Noori S, Hockly E, Faruque SM, Cha JH, Sharpe PT, Olson JM, Li XJ, Bates GP
      Contribution of nuclear and extranuclear polyQ to neurological phenotypes in mouse models of Huntington's disease.
      16183657 Human molecular genetics, 2005 Oct 15 : 3065-78
    • Lin CH, Hansen S, Wang Z, Storm DR, Tapscott SJ, Olson JM
      The dosage of the neuroD2 transcription factor regulates amygdala development and emotional learning.
      16203979 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2005 Oct 11 : 14877-82
    • Kooperberg C, Aragaki A, Strand AD, Olson JM
      Significance testing for small microarray experiments.
      15889452 Statistics in medicine, 2005 Aug 15 : 2281-98
    • Strand AD, Aragaki AK, Shaw D, Bird T, Holton J, Turner C, Tapscott SJ, Tabrizi SJ, Schapira AH, Kooperberg C, Olson JM
      Gene expression in Huntington's disease skeletal muscle: a potential biomarker.
      15888475 Human molecular genetics, 2005 Jul 1 : 1863-76
    • Fan W, Pritchard JI, Olson JM, Khalid N, Zhao LP
      A class of models for analyzing GeneChip gene expression analysis array data.
      15710039 BMC genomics, 2005 Feb 14 : 16
    • Hallahan AR, Pritchard JI, Hansen S, Benson M, Stoeck J, Hatton BA, Russell TL, Ellenbogen RG, Bernstein ID, Beachy PA, Olson JM
      The SmoA1 mouse model reveals that notch signaling is critical for the growth and survival of sonic hedgehog-induced medulloblastomas.
      15520185 Cancer research, 2004 Nov 1 : 7794-800
    • Olson JM, Hallahan AR
      p38 MAP kinase: a convergence point in cancer therapy.
      15102355 Trends in molecular medicine, 2004 March : 125-9
    • Lin CH, Stoeck J, Ravanpay AC, Guillemot F, Tapscott SJ, Olson JM
      Regulation of neuroD2 expression in mouse brain.
      14697366 Developmental biology, 2004 Jan 1 : 234-45
    • Oh MK, Scoles DR, Haipek C, Strand AD, Gutmann DH, Olson JM, Pulst SM
      Genetic heterogeneity of stably transfected cell lines revealed by expression profiling with oligonucleotide microarrays.
      14624465 Journal of cellular biochemistry, 2003 Dec 1 : 1068-78
    • Hallahan AR, Pritchard JI, Chandraratna RA, Ellenbogen RG, Geyer JR, Overland RP, Strand AD, Tapscott SJ, Olson JM
      BMP-2 mediates retinoid-induced apoptosis in medulloblastoma cells through a paracrine effect.
      12872164 Nature medicine, 2003 Aug. : 1033-8
    • Strand AD, Olson JM, Kooperberg C
      Estimating the statistical significance of gene expression changes observed with oligonucleotide arrays.
      12217949 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Sep 15 : 2207-21
    • Kooperberg C, Sipione S, LeBlanc M, Strand AD, Cattaneo E, Olson JM
      Evaluating test statistics to select interesting genes in microarray experiments.
      12217950 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Sep 15 : 2223-32
    • Berman DM, Karhadkar SS, Hallahan AR, Pritchard JI, Eberhart CG, Watkins DN, Chen JK, Cooper MK, Taipale J, Olson JM, Beachy PA
      Medulloblastoma growth inhibition by hedgehog pathway blockade.
      12202832 Science (New York, N.Y.), 2002 Aug 30 : 1559-61
    • Luthi-Carter R, Strand AD, Hanson SA, Kooperberg C, Schilling G, La Spada AR, Merry DE, Young AB, Ross CA, Borchelt DR, Olson JM
      Polyglutamine and transcription: gene expression changes shared by DRPLA and Huntington's disease mouse models reveal context-independent effects.
      12165555 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1927-37
    • Luthi-Carter R, Hanson SA, Strand AD, Bergstrom DA, Chun W, Peters NL, Woods AM, Chan EY, Kooperberg C, Krainc D, Young AB, Tapscott SJ, Olson JM
      Dysregulation of gene expression in the R6/2 model of polyglutamine disease: parallel changes in muscle and brain.
      12165554 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1911-26
    • Sipione S, Rigamonti D, Valenza M, Zuccato C, Conti L, Pritchard J, Kooperberg C, Olson JM, Cattaneo E
      Early transcriptional profiles in huntingtin-inducible striatal cells by microarray analyses.
      12165557 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1953-65
    • Chan EY, Luthi-Carter R, Strand A, Solano SM, Hanson SA, DeJohn MM, Kooperberg C, Chase KO, DiFiglia M, Young AB, Leavitt BR, Cha JH, Aronin N, Hayden MR, Olson JM
      Increased huntingtin protein length reduces the number of polyglutamine-induced gene expression changes in mouse models of Huntington's disease.
      12165556 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1939-51
    • Xu XL, Olson JM, Zhao LP
      A regression-based method to identify differentially expressed genes in microarray time course studies and its application in an inducible Huntington's disease transgenic model.
      12165559 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1977-85
    • Lieberman AP, Harmison G, Strand AD, Olson JM, Fischbeck KH
      Altered transcriptional regulation in cells expressing the expanded polyglutamine androgen receptor.
      12165558 Human molecular genetics, 2002 Aug 15 : 1967-76
    • Pomeroy SL, Tamayo P, Gaasenbeek M, Sturla LM, Angelo M, McLaughlin ME, Kim JY, Goumnerova LC, Black PM, Lau C, Allen JC, Zagzag D, Olson JM, Curran T, Wetmore C, Biegel JA, Poggio T, Mukherjee S, Rifkin R, Califano A, Stolovitzky G, Louis DN, Mesirov JP, Lander ES, Golub TR
      Prediction of central nervous system embryonal tumour outcome based on gene expression.
      11807556 Nature, 2002 Jan 24 : 436-42
    • Hughes RE, Lo RS, Davis C, Strand AD, Neal CL, Olson JM, Fields S
      Altered transcription in yeast expressing expanded polyglutamine.
      11687606 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2001 Nov 6 : 98(23)13201-6 PMCID:PMC60848
    • Thomas JG, Olson JM, Tapscott SJ, Zhao LP
      An efficient and robust statistical modeling approach to discover differentially expressed genes using genomic expression profiles.
      11435405 Genome research, 2001 July : 11(7)1227-36 PMCID:PMC311075
    • Olson JM, Asakura A, Snider L, Hawkes R, Strand A, Stoeck J, Hallahan A, Pritchard J, Tapscott SJ
      NeuroD2 is necessary for development and survival of central nervous system neurons.
      11356028 Developmental biology, 2001 Jun 1 : 234(1)174-87
    • Johnston DL, Olson JM, Benjamin DR
      Gastrointestinal stromal tumor in a patient with previous neuroblastoma.
      11846308 Journal of pediatric hematology/oncology, 2001 May : 23(4)255-6
    • Hughes RE, Olson JM
      Therapeutic opportunities in polyglutamine disease.
      11283667 Nature medicine, 2001 April : 7(4)419-23
    • Luthi-Carter R, Strand A, Peters NL, Solano SM, Hollingsworth ZR, Menon AS, Frey AS, Spektor BS, Penney EB, Schilling G, Ross CA, Borchelt DR, Tapscott SJ, Young AB, Cha JH, Olson JM
      Decreased expression of striatal signaling genes in a mouse model of Huntington's disease.
      10814708 Human molecular genetics, 2000 May 22 : 9(9)1259-71
    • Farah MH, Olson JM, Sucic HB, Hume RI, Tapscott SJ, Turner DL
      Generation of neurons by transient expression of neural bHLH proteins in mammalian cells.
      10648228 Development (Cambridge, England), 2000 Feb. : 127(4)693-702
    • Gropman AL, Packer RJ, Nicholson HS, Vezina LG, Jakacki R, Geyer R, Olson JM, Phillips P, Needle M, Broxson EH Jr, Reaman G, Finlay J
      Treatment of diencephalic syndrome with chemotherapy: growth, tumor response, and long term control.
      9655307 Cancer, 1998 Jul 1 : 83(1)166-72
    • Rostomily RC, Bermingham-McDonogh O, Berger MS, Tapscott SJ, Reh TA, Olson JM
      Expression of neurogenic basic helix-loop-helix genes in primitive neuroectodermal tumors.
      9270024 Cancer research, 1997 Aug 15 : 57(16)3526-31
    • Tapscott SJ, Miller AD, Olson JM, Berger MS, Groudine M, Spence AM
      Gene therapy of rat 9L gliosarcoma tumors by transduction with selectable genes does not require drug selection.
      8058777 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 1994 Aug 16 : 91(17)8185-9 PMCID:PMC44570


Board Certification(s)

Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

Medical/Professional School

University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI


University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA


University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

Research Description

In the past decade, Dr. Olson recruited scientists from biotech to join his lab and build a protein therapeutics platform. Together, these scientists contributed to seven FDA-approved drugs and 28 drug candidates that reached human clinical trials. The team has since built a series of powerful drug discovery platforms, primarily focused on a class of mid-sized medicines called cystine-dense peptides (CDPs, or knottins) and bispecific antibodies.


We discovered and engineered CDPs to 1) deliver drugs into the brain, across the blood brain barrier, by binding to transferrin receptor; 2) block the oncogenic YAP:TEAD interaction; and 3) bind and block a key immune checkpoint protein. Current efforts focus on 1) determining whether certain CDPs can be used to degrade proteins that are necessary for cancer cell survival; 2) discovering drug candidates that block chronic inflammation in the brain following radiation therapy, which leads to cognitive and other deficits; and 3) discovering CDP-based therapeutics that help the immune system recognize and kill brain tumor cells.


Our bispecific antibody programs are currently focused on a subset of pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and neuroblastoma. We also have programs that focus on some underserved adult cancers, such as ovarian cancer. 


Research Focus Area

Refractory and recurrent cancer, Sarcomas, Thyroid Cancer, Novel Therapeutics, Cancer