Pharmacology and Toxicology - Faculty

Marxa Figueiredo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Phone: (409)772-9632
Fax: (409)772-9642

Research Information Page


06/1996-06/2002 Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology (minor in Oncology)
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.
Thesis: Comparative Proliferation of Genetically Altered Hepatocytes in Transgenic Mice.

01/1991-12/1994 B.S. in Biological Sciences (minor in Biomedical Sciences)
Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia-GO, Brazil.


My research career began as an undergraduate at the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil where I examined the effects of modifying E. coli promoter sequences on improving the high-level expression of exogenous proteins (using a-amylase as a prototype). I have been interested in a career in research ever since and my first mentor, Dr. Bataus, was very nurturing, providing the initial inspiration for me to pursue this career. I went on to get undergrad scholarships and obtained some funding that enabled me to come to the U.S. to expand my knowledge in molecular biology. An opportunity presented itself when driven by an instinct I approached the keynote speaker of a major conference in Brazil to attend my poster. This interaction changed my life. After meeting with me, Dr Geiduschek invited me to come work in his lab in preparation for graduate school. I spent about a year and a half at UCSD learning from him and Dr. Grove how to think critically about the impact of optimal topology on DNA flexibility and the resulting alterations in transcription factor binding to specific sites. Following my time at UCSD I was accepted to grad school and chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue my PhD studies. I entered the PhD program in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I got my degree in 2002 with Dr. Sandgren and developed a novel comparative hepatocyte growth assay in vivo for examining and quantifying biological changes in tumor progression, as well as several novel transgenic mouse models of tumorigenesis. I proceeded to the University of California-Los Angeles with an interest in gene therapy for cancer and received support from the Scholars in Oncologic Molecular Imaging program to conduct research in nonviral and viral approaches to gene therapy. As a postdoc under Dr. Wu's mentorship I also received a K01 career development award from the NCI to pursue research on the potential of a cell-cycle regulator molecule in treating cancer.

I began my independent career at Louisiana State University in 2008 and have since transitioned to UTMB to the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department (PHTO) in January of 2011. Our lab has a research associate, two PhD students (CELL and PHTO), an undergraduate student. We develop several gene delivery and stem cell delivery systems for cytokine-based gene therapy. We utilize sonoporation gene delivery (sonodelivery) and adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells as vehicles. Our lab has evolved to pursue three project directions. Project 1 is designed to disrupt immune:bone malignant interactions using multifunctional cytokine sonodelivery. We develop more effective therapies for inflammatory bone loss (arthritis) as well as metastatic prostate cancer using intramuscular sonodelivery of targeted cytokines including IL-27 and OP-1. We utilize modern optical and other modalities of noninvasive molecular imaging to detect therapy delivery and efficacy in vivo.Project 2 examines the biology and potential of ASC for tissue regeneration, including bone repair and for halting tumor promotion. Interestingly, Conversely, for understanding how stroma can promote tumor growth, we examine the role of ASC in mediating the effects of environmental toxicants.Project 3 develops small molecule mimics of Pigment Epithelial Growth Factor (PEDF), a potent antiangiogenic and pro-osteogenic molecule, with translational potential for bone regeneration and antitumor applications.