Photo of Dr. Nabiha Yusuf

Assistant Professor; Associate Scientist, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center; Scientist, Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center

Areas of Interest
skin cancer


The main focus of my research is to evaluate the role of Toll like receptor-4 (TLR4) mediated cutaneous immune responses in the development of skin cancer. TLR4 is an important member of the family of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), and is involved in innate and adaptive immune responses. Studies from our laboratory demonstrated a protective role for TLR4 mediated immune responses against development of skin and breast tumors induced by chemical carcinogen, DMBA.

TLR4 generated cell mediated immune responses against the chemical carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) that provides protection against this carcinogen [Yusuf et al. (2008) Cancer Res 68: 615-622]. With respect to ultraviolet (UV) radiation induced cutaneous responses, TLR4 deficient mice were resistant to UV induced immunosuppression [Lewis et al. (2011) Arch Biochem Biophys 508: 171-177], and cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) formed in TLR4 deficient mice were repaired more efficiently in comparison to CPD formed in TLR4 proficient mice [Ahmad et al. (2014) J Invest Dermatol.134:1710-7]. TLR4 deficient mice were also resistant to UV-induced cutaneous tumor development when they were exposed to multiple doses of UVB radiation.

Our studies show that targeting TLR4 may be an attractive approach for developing novel preventive and therapeutic strategies against UVB-induced DNA damage, immunosuppression, and for prevention of UV-induced skin cancers. Our ongoing studies involve dissecting the mechanisms involved in the repair of UV induced DNA damage, immunosuppression and tumor development in TLR4 deficient mice. We are also in the process of testing chemopreventive agents and pharmacological inhibitors of TLR4 in in vitro systems which will be tested subsequently in in vivo models.

We are also assessing the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in individuals with single nucleotide polymorphisms in vitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphisms in an Alabama population, and the impact of UV radiation on the human skin microbiome and whether it has any implications on the development of skin cancer.

Education & Training

Graduate School
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India

Postdoctoral fellow, Dermatology, UAB, 2001-2005

Contact Information

VH 566A

(205) 934-7432