John Pawelek, PhD

John Pawelek, PhD is a long-time member of the research faculty in the Department of Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine. His current research interests focus on cancer cell fusion with migratory white blood cells as a mechanism of metastasis. He has authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed papers in the areas of skin pigmentation and melanoma and is past president of the Pan American Society for Pigment Cell Research. He has published seminal works on melanocortin-1 receptors, melanocortin action and UV light, and the enzymology of melanogenesis--including discovery of the melanogenesis enzyme dopachrome tautomerase. He has won several awards for this work, including the PASPCR Career Achievement Award, the IFPCS inaugural award of the Henry Stanley Raper Medal, and the Japanese Society for Pigment Cell Research award of the Takeuchi Medal. He was honored in June, 2010 when the inaugural “John M. Pawelek Lecture” was presented at the 4th Meeting of the ASPCR in Guanzhou, China. He frequently lectures at scientific conferences in the US and abroad.

Departments and Organizations

Dermatology/Dermatopathology, Yale Cancer Center, Melanoma Tumor Board

Research Interests

The role of cell fusion in solid tumor metastasis; role of autophagy in cancer metabolism and progression; melanosome transfer in normal skin and melanoma.


BA, Biology/Chemistry, Gettysburg College, 1963

PhD, Developmental Biology, Brown University, 1968

Post Doctoral Studies, Molecular Biology of Protein Synthesis (1968-70); Bacterial Genetics (1970)

Selected Publications

Pawelek JM, Chakraborty AK.  Fusion of tumor cells with bonemarrow-derived cells: a unifying explanation for metastasis.  Nature Reviews Cancer 8: 377-386, 2008.

Lazova R, Camp  RL, Klump V, Siddiqui S, Amaravadi RK, Pawelek JM. Punctate LC3B expression is a common feature of solid tumors and associated with proliferation, metastasis and poor outcome. Clin Cancer Res. 2012;18:370-9. 

Lazova R, LaBerge GS, Duvall E, Spoelstra N, Sznol M, Cooper D, Spritz R, Chang, JT, Pawelek JM. A melanoma metastasis with a donor-patient hybrid genome following bone marrow transplantation. In preparation.

Contact Information

Dept. of Dermatology
Yale School of Medicine
PO Box 208059
333 Cedar Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8059
Phone: 203-687-7318