Mary M Mullen, MD

Mary M Mullen, MD

Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Division of Gynecologic Oncology


Current Title: Assistant Professor, Gynecologic Oncology, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Time with WashU: 8 years


2006 – 2010 Undergraduate
University of Notre Dame
Bachelor of Science, Major in Biology, Minor in Anthropology
South Bend, Indiana

2010 – 2014 Medical School
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri

June – August 2011 TL1 Predoctoral Clinical Research Program
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

2014 – 2018 Residency
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

2018 – Anticipated 2021 Fellowship, Gynecologic Oncology
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

2018 – Anticipated 2023 Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI)
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

2019 – Anticipated 2022 Basics of Clinical Trials Workshop
Society of Gynecologic Oncology


Pronouns: she/her/hers
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
PubMed Name(s): Mary M Mullen, Mary Reagan


Summarize your research focus and interests.

“Chemotherapy resistance and developing novel ovarian cancer treatments that target the DNA damage response in order to improve outcomes for patients with gynecologic cancers.”

With which lab or research team(s) are you associated at WashU and in what capacity?

“Mullen Lab; Center for Reproductive Health Sciences”

Do you have any collaborations with other research teams? If so, what capacity and department(s)?

Alexandra Rutz, PhD (McKelvey School of Engineering) – Collaboration Initiation Grant (CIG) in Women’s health Technologies

Abby Green, MD (Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist) – Role of APOBEC3A in ovarian cancer

Nima Mosammaparast, MD, PhD (Pathology & Immunology) – Genetic profiling of chemoresistant ovarian cancer

Farrokh Dehdashti, MD; Cynthia Ma, MD; Russell Pachynski, MD – FTT-PET and association with PARP inhibitor response in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), ovarian cancer, and breast cancer

William Buschser, PhD – High throughput siRNA Screen evaluating kinase and deubinqinase role in homologous recombination (HR) in HR-proficient, chemotherapy resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer cells

Brian Van Tine, MD, PhD – Arginine’s role in chemotherapy resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Why did you decide to have a career in research?

“Upon treating patients with gynecologic cancers it quickly became clear that current treatments are not curing our patients of their disease, and that we as treating physicians must do better. Translation research allows us to discover more about the biology of cancer and offers opportunities for treatment and cure beyond the limits of current knowledge of this disease. It facilitates the evolution of insight from clinicians and scientists to the bench into the clinical setting and back again. What could be more exciting than this! Basic and translational research allows us as physician-scientists to not only participate and practice medicine, but to advance it in order to improve outcomes for our patients.”

What do you like best about your current role?

“I was initially drawn to gynecologic oncology by my interest in cancer biology and my love for the operating room. However, it was the patients and the physician-patient relationships within this field that made it clear that gynecologic oncology was my calling. A diagnosis of cancer is a journey for the patient, their loved ones, and the physician. From diagnosis to surveillance or death, the road is filled with sorrows, joys, relationships, decisions, trust, and special moments that define the voyage. Life is altered by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and clinical trials. As a provider, it is an honor to be a part of this intimate time in a patient’s life and enhance these experiences for our patients and to be enriched daily, both personally and professionally, from the scientific and emotional lessons these interactions provide. My passion for this field and the women we care for stimulates continued education, endless refinement of my clinical and surgical skills, and the energy to work until these women have better outcomes.”

Top 3 Funded Studies

Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP) (Schust, PI) 2021-2023
NIH/NICHD-sponsored national K12 training program, GOG-Foundation
Utilizing DNA Damage to Identify and Target Chemoresistance in Ovarian Cancer
Role: K12 Scholar

Dean’s Scholar Program (Mullen, PI) 2021 – 2023
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine Division of Physician Scientists
Developing ovarian cancer organoid models to establish novel therapies and biomarkers predictive of response to DNA damage therapies
Role: Dean’s Scholar

Collaboration Initiation Grant (CIG) in Women’s health Technologies 2022 – 2023
Washington University McKelvey School of Engineering and Obstetrics and Gynecology
In vitro Bioelectronic Monitoring of Therapy Response in 3D, Patient-Derived Ovarian Cancer Models
Role: Co-Principal Investigator

What are your most notable discoveries?

“Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death due to gynecologic malignancy and the 5th leading cause of cancer-related mortality in women. Compared to other cancers, this is an extremely deadly disease. Traditionally we give patients DNA-damaging drugs such as chemotherapy to cause tumor cell death. Although these treatments are initially effective, over 80% of women will develop tumor resistance to these agents and die within five years of diagnosis. Currently, we have no way of predicting the 20% of women whose tumors will be successfully treated with DNA damaging agents, and our strategies for increasing sensitivity to such agents are limited. My long-term goal is to evaluate the role of DNA repair in chemoresistance and to develop personalized treatment strategies to improve ovarian cancer outcomes. Currently, I am working to identify a biomarker predictive of tumor sensitivity to DNA damaging agents and to identify kinases required for ovarian cancer resistance to DNA damaging agents. In the future, I hope to use this foundational work to perform a Phase I/II clinical trial of identified kinase inhibitors. If such inhibitors work synergistically with traditional chemotherapy, we may be able to treat patients with lower doses of these drugs to avoid toxicity and increase chemosensitivity.”


Undergraduate Students

1. Lily van Biljon (2021-current): Research mentee. “RAD51 is a biomarker predictive of homologous recombination deficiency and clinical response to DNA damaging agents in patient-derived ovarian cancer organoids”. Accepted abstract to CGI annual 2022 research retreat and Annual 2022 David Rothman Resident Research Day.

2. Emily Graham (2022-current): Research mentee. “Expression of RAD51 foci in pre-treatment tumor samples predicts response to platinum chemotherapy in patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer”.

Medical Students

1. Elizabeth Buckley (MS4 to resident; 2020-2022): Research mentee. I served as her research elective co-mentor during her 4th year of medical school. Research project: “High Visceral Fat to Subcutaneous Fat Adiposity Ratios Portend a Poor Prognosis in Patients with Endometrial Cancer”. Accepted abstract to SGO Annual meeting 2021, manuscript in draft.

Postdoctoral Fellow

1. Bisiayo Fashemi, PhD: Research mentee. Patient-Derived Ovarian Cancer Organoid Living Tissue Bank. Accepted abstract to the Society of Reproductive Investigation 69th Annual Scientific Meeting. Denver, CO.


1. Brock Polnaszek (OBGYN Resident, 2020-2021): Research mentee. Placental site trophoblastic tumor treatment with pembrolizumab. Published in Gynecologic Oncology.

2. Angelina Carey-Love (OBGYN Resident, 2020-2021): Research mentee. Medically inoperable endometrial cancer. Published in Gynecologic Oncology Reports.

3. Tyler McKinnish (OBGYN Resident, 2020-current): Academic mentee.

4. Whitney Grither (OBGYN Resident, 2021-current): Academic mentee.

5. Deborah Shim (OBGYN Resident, 2021-current): Academic mentee. Gynecologic Oncology Fellows 1. Jo’an Tankou (2019-current):

Academic mentees

1. Shaina Bruce (2020-current): Academic mentee.

2. Elizabeth Stock (2020-current): Research mentee.

3. Tyler Woodard (2021-current): Research mentee.

Professional Achievements

2018 Chief Resident Teaching Award
2018 GOG Foundation Young Investigators Travel Award
2018 GOG Foundation Young Investigators Travel Award
2019 Ovarinnovate: Ovarcome Research Excellence Award, The Foundation for Women’s Cancer
2019-2022 Gynecologic Oncology Group Foundation New Investigator Award
2019 St. Louis OBGYN Society Annual Research Symposium Best Oral Presentation
2020 Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine’s Medical Student Teaching Award
2021 Washington University School of Medicine Division of Physician Scientists Dean’s Scholar Award
2021 Society of Gynecologic Oncology 2020 Best Basic Science Poster Award
2021 Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine’s DNA Damage, Metabolism, and Repair (DMR) Seminar Series Best Oral Presentation
2022 AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop National Panels, Committee Boards: 2020-current Endometrial Cancer Molecularly Targeted Therapy Consortium (ECMT2 Consortium) (Publication Member)
2020-current The Community of Academic Physician-Scientists in Training (CAPSiT) Series Advisory Board
2021-current Siteman Cancer Center’s Center for Genome Integrity 2021-current NRG New Investigator Committee
2019-2021 SGO Clinical Practice Committee (Member)
2022-2024 SGO Publications Committee (Member)
2021-current Editorial Board, Gynecologic Oncology Reports


Mullen M, Lomonosova E, Toboni M, Oplt A, Cybulla E, Blachut B, Peinan Zhao, Noia H, Wilke D, Rankin E, Kuroki L, Hagemann A, Hagemann I, McCourt C, Thaker P, Mutch D, Powell M, Mosammaparast N, Vindigni A, Fuh K. GAS6/AXL inhibition enhances ovarian cancer sensitivity to chemotherapy and PARP inhibition through increased DNA damage and enhanced replication stress. Molecular Cancer Research 2022 Feb;20(2):265-279. PMID: 34670865.