Profile-Scott Gitlin

Scott D. Gitlin, M.D.

Dr. Gitlin is an Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology with membership in the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. His laboratory research interests are primarily focused on the study of the role of viruses in causing malignancies. Currently, the main emphasis is on understanding the role of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) in the etiology and pathogenesis of a variety of malignancies, including lymphomas and breast cancer, in humans. This work has led to the identification of virus-encoded genes, including a novel oncogene, that may provide a clue as to how these HERVs contribute to oncogenesis.

Dr. Gitlin’s research efforts are being pursued in a collaborative effort with Drs. David Markovitz, Mark Kaplan and their collective laboratory staff. In addition to the molecular virology studies that are being pursued, bioinformatics technology, in collaboration with Dr. Gilbert Omenn and colleagues, is allowing us to explore the role of HERVs in new ways. Further, this work has led to the development of a phase I/II clinical trial that is intended to further evaluate the role of HERVs in human disease and may possibly provide insight into new treatment strategies for a variety of cancers; an effort being led by Dr. Gitlin.

Dr. Gitlin’s laboratory has previously investigated the transcriptional regulation of the human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) retrovirus, the function of the HTLV-I Tax1 trans-activating protein on viral and cellular gene expression, and the interaction of Tax1 with the ets cellular proto-oncogene. Specifically, he has been attempting to define the mechanism(s) by which HTLV-I Tax1 regulates gene expression from the HTLV-I long terminal repeat (LTR) and by which Tax1 interacts with its host cell, events thought to be primarily involved in cellular transformation and the formation of disease (adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma; tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-I-associated myelopathy) following HTLV-I infection. In the past, he has demonstrated a cooperative (synergistic) interaction of Tax1 with the cellular proto-oncogene Ets1 on regulating gene expression from the HTLV-I LTR, as well as from the P2 promoter of the parathyroid hormone-related protein gene. In addition, Dr. Gitlin’s laboratory has used transgenic mice to evaluate novel, molecular genetic approaches to treating and preventing disease caused by HTLV-I Tax1. Additional studies in this laboratory have attempted to develop a new murine model for studying the pathogenesis of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma which will allow the evaluation of gene therapy and other novel approaches to treating this disease.

Clinically, Dr. Gitlin continues to evaluate and manage patients with hematologic disorders, both non-malignant and malignant diseases, in the University of Michigan hospitals and at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Previous clinical research projects led by Dr. Gitlin have included therapeutic evaluations of new anticoagulants for primary use in patients with heparin-associated hrombocytopenia.These studies have led to publication and have contributed to FDA approval of pharmacologic agents. In addition, Dr. Gitlin was the local Principal Investigator of a clinical trial that is evaluating an anti-idiotype vaccine for the treatment of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas and is currently the site leader of a registry trial for patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria


Dr. Gitlin has a significant interest in post-graduate education program development and mentoring. Specifically, he has the University of Michigan’s Hematology/Oncology fellowship director for 13 years, during which he developed an educational program in Geriatric Hematology/Oncology for residents and subspecialty fellows. He sits as a member of the University’s Internal Review Committee, that reviews and critiques all of the residency and fellowship training programs at the University of Michigan Health System. In addition, he has been collaborating on development of new tools to improve the training of physicians in obtaining informed consent for clinical procedures and research studies.

On a national level, Dr. Gitlin has been actively involved as a member of the training program committees of both the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) where he has taken an active role in curriculum development, design and implementation of career development educational and funding initiatives, and programs to promote effective mentoring of fellows and junior faculty. For ASH, he serves in a number of roles including Past Chair of the Committee on Training Programs and as Past Chair of a subcommittee that developed a comprehensive curriculum in the discipline of Hematology which forms the foundation for the training of hematology fellows throughout the United States and Canada. He also has overseen the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI), a year-long mentored experience for hematologists and hematologists/oncologists in pursuit of patient-oriented clinical research careers. He continues to actively participate in the joint ASH-European Hematology Association Translational Research Training in Hematology (TRTH) mentored training program, where he is currently Co-Director and a member of the Joint Oversight Committee. He continues to participate as a faculty member, as well, for both the CRTI and TRTH programs. For ASCO, Dr. Gitlin previously served on a subcommittee to develop curricula for combined fellowship training in medical oncology and geriatric medicine (Geriatric Oncology fellowship program). Dr. Gitlin also serves as the ASH representative on the American Association of Medical College’s Council of Academic Societies and is Treasurer of the Association of Specialty Professors (with scheduled ascension to President), an organization that represents the subspecialties of Internal Medicine for educational, training, practice and career development activities.