Jason D. Merker

MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology; Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Genetics
Director of Molecular Oncology
Associate Director of Molecular Pathology
UNC-Chapel Hill
Clinical Research
Cancer Genetics

Area of interest

I returned to UNC in 2018 to focus on several collaborative efforts related to clinical and translational cancer genomics. Within the School of Medicine, I split my time between clinical work in molecular pathology and translational cancer genetics research. I serve in several positions related to the application of cancer genomics in the clinical and research settings, including Director of Cancer Molecular Pathology and Co-Director of the Translational Genomics Laboratory at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC), as well as Director of Molecular Oncology and Associate Director of Molecular Pathology at UNC Hospitals McLendon Clinical Laboratories. Collectively, my efforts are focused on the development, evaluation, and application of genomics and related technologies to improve the care of patients with cancer. My group and our collaborators are involved in the multiple stages necessary to translate cancer genomic testing from initial assay development through use in routine clinical care.

My current research interests involve three areas that share the theme of translating genomic technologies to improve the care of patients with cancer. First, the lab is active in the development and evaluation of multiple approaches for the detection of circulating, cell-free tumor nucleic acids. Second, I have a particular interest in correlative genomic studies of specimens collected from cancer clinical trials and other well-annotated sources. The clinical data, especially clinical outcome data derived from clinical trials, are critical to determining whether genomic assays have the necessary clinical validity and utility to support routine clinical use. Through the LCCC Translational Genomics Laboratory, UNC/UT NCI NCTN Integrated Translational Science Center, and UNC Medical Center Molecular Pathology and Genetics Laboratory, we support correlative genomic studies for multiple cancer clinical trials. Finally, in collaboration with the UNC Clinical Cancer Genetics group, we are interested in using multiple orthogonal genomics approaches to identify germline cancer predisposition variants in families with heritable cancer syndromes, who do not carry known pathogenic variants.

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