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Richard L. Eckert, PhD

John F.B. Weaver Professor

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Secondary Appointment(s):

Dermatology, OB GYN & Reproductive Science


108NG 110

Education and Training

  • University of Wisconsin, BA, Life Science, 1975
  • University of Illinois-Urbana, MS, Physiology and Biophysics, 1978
  • University of Illinois-Urbana, PhD, Physiology and Biophysics, 1981
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Cell Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1981-1986; Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Harvard Medical School, 1981-1986


A pre-eminent and internationally-recognized scientist, Dr. Eckert has been continuously by the NIH since 1989. He holds two patents and currently is principal investigator on multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and from other sources. Dr. Eckert received his PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and completed post-doctoral research training in the Department of Cell Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Harvard Medical School. He was a Professor at Case Reserve University School of Medicine until 2006 when he joined the University of Maryland, School of Medicine as Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Eckert is an internationally recognized investigator who has made pioneering discoveries in the area of surface epithelial biology – specifically focusing on the human epidermis.  His studies have led to enhanced understanding of normal skin biology and to insights regarding the mechanisms that drive skin diseases including cancer.  He also has a long-term interest in the prevention of skin cancer by natural biological agents.  Dr. Eckert has published more than 200 journal articles and reviews, and his trainees have presented over 200 meeting abstracts.  He serves as an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous scientific journals.  He is a University of Wisconsin Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipient, an elected member of the Board of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, a standing member of the review panel of the American Institute for Cancer Research, and has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIAMS and on numerous NIH study sections. Dr. Eckert holds patents from the United States Patent Office, and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health as a principal investigator since 1989. He is currently principal investigator on multiple RO1 grants from the National Institutes of Health and grants from private foundations.  He has also been supported by the Department of the Navy, the American Cancer Society, the Dermatology Foundation, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Breast Cancer Research Program and the Maryland Stem Cell Fund.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Tumor Suppression Function, MAPK Signal Transduction, Transcriptional Regulation, Epigenetic Regulation, Transglutaminase Function, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention, Hippo Signaling, Mouse Disease Models, Oncogenes, Cancer Stem Cell Survival Factors

Highlighted Publications

Fisher ML, Adhikary G, Xu W, Kerr C, Keillor JW, Eckert RL (2015) Type II transglutaminase stimulates epidermal cancer stem cell epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Oncotarget 6(24):20525-20539. PMID: 25971211; PMCID: PMC4653023

Adhikary G, Grun D, Balasubramanian S, Kerr C, Huang J, Eckert RL (2015) Survival of skin cancer stem cells requires the Ezh2 polycomb group protein. Carginogenesis 36(7):800-10. PMID: 25969142; PMCID: PMC4850538

Fisher ML, Keillor JW, Xu W, Eckert RL (2015) Transglutaminase is required for epidermal squamous cell carcinoma stem cell survival. Mol Cancer Res. 13(7):1083-94. PMID: 25934691; PMCID: pending

Eckert RL, Fisher ML, Grun D, Adhikary G, Xu W, Kerr C (2015) Transglutaminase is a tumor cell and cancer stem cell survival factor. Mol Carcinog. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 26258961; PMCID: PMC4504806

Saha K, Eckert RL (2015) Methylosome protein 50 and PKCδ/p38δ signaling control keratinocyte proliferation via opposing effects on p21Cip1 gene expression (2015) J Biol Chem. 290 (21):13521-30. PMID: 25851901; PMCID: PMC4505598

Additional Publication Citations

Balasubramanian S, Scharadin TM, Han B, Xu W, Eckert RL (2015) The Bmi-1 helix-turn and ring finger domains are required for Bmi-1 antagonism of (-) epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppression of skin cancer cell survival Cell Signaling. 27(7):1336-44. PMID: 25843776;PMCID: PMC4756650

Hsu TH, Jiang SY, Chang WL, Eckert RL, Scharadin TM, Chang TC (2015) Involvement of RARRES3 in the regulation of Wnt proteins acylation and signaling activities in human breast cancer cells. Cell Death Differ. 22(9):1561. PMID: 26256516; PMCID: PMC4532785

Fisher ML, Adhikary G, Grun D, Kaetzel DM, Eckert RL (2015) The Ezh2 polycomb group protein drives an aggressive phenotype in melanoma cancer stem cells and is a target of diet derived sulforaphane. Mol Carcinog. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26693692; PMCID: PMC4919248

Grun D, Adhikary G, Eckert RL (2016) VEGF-A acts via neuropilin-1 to enhance epidermal cancer stem cell survival and formation of aggressive and highly vascularized tumors. Oncogene 35(33):4379-4387. PMID: 26804163; PMCID: PMC4959993

Saha K, Adhikary G, Eckert RL (2016) MEP50/PRMT5 Reduces Gene Expression by Histone Arginine Methylation and this Is Reversed by PKCδ/p38δ Signaling. J Invest Dermatol. 136(1):214-24. PMID: 26763441; PMCID: PMC4899982

Awards and Affiliations

  • 1986:Mellon Foundation Award for Promising Young Investigator
  • 1986:Ohio Board of Regents Research Initiation Grant
  • 1987: Life and Health Insurance Medical Research Fund Award
  • 1994: University of Wisconsin - Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
  • 1995: Johnson and Johnson Focused Giving Research Achievement Award
  • 2000: Case Western Reserve University “Million Dollar Professor
  • 2000-2005: Counselor of the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease
  • 2007: Harry M. Robinson Jr, MD Memorial Lectureship - Maryland Dermatology Society
  • 2008: John F.B. Weaver Distinguished Professor (Chair)
  • 2008-2013: Elected Board Member - Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • 2010: Founder - “Transglutaminases in Human Disease Processes” Gordon Research Conference
  • 2003: Permanent Member - Chemical and Dietary Prevention Study Section (NIH - served 10 years)
  • 2010: Elected Committee Member - ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee
  • 2008-2014: Chair - American Society Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Affairs Advisory Committee - Legislative Affairs Committee
  • 2012-2013: Secretary - American Medical and Graduate Departments of Biochemistry (Biochemistry Chairs Society)
  • 2013: Chair - American Association of Medical Colleges - CFAS Advocacy Task Force
  • 2013: President-Elect - American Medical and Graduate Departments of Biochemistry
  • 2014: President - American Medical and Graduate Departments of Biochemistry

Previous Positions

  • 1977: Pre-doctoral Fellow, University of Illinois
  • 1981: Post-doctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School
  • 1986: Asst. Professor of Physiology/Biophysics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • 1992: Assoc. Professor of Physiology/Biophysics, Case Western Reserve  University School of Medicine
  • 1997: Professor of Physiology/Biophysics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine