A new portrait hangs in a venerable portrait gallery at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This rare occasion is always historic, but in 2020 it is especially so. Martine F. Roussel, Ph.D., a molecular oncologist who has been at St. Jude since 1983, is the first woman to receive this honor.
Having a portrait commissioned and installed is reserved for St. Jude researchers and leaders who have significantly contributed toward elevating the institution’s science and medicine.
Roussel has made landmark findings in molecular oncology, cell cycle control, and translational development of treatment strategies for pediatric medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. She played a pioneering role in the identification of several important oncogenes. With her long-standing collaborator and husband Charles J. Sherr, M.D., Ph.D., she has made key contributions to the understanding of receptor signal transduction, cell cycle control and tumor development.
Today, Roussel holds the hospital’s Endowed Chair in Molecular Oncogenesis. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011) and to the National Academy of Sciences (2019), the most prestigious appointment for scientists pursuing original research in the United States.
Roussel said that when future generations see her portrait, she wants them to see a scientist, first and foremost. She also hopes that her affable nature shines through.
"No. 1, I am a scientist," Roussel said. "This is what I do. I'm hoping that people see me as someone who is a good teacher and mentor. I think that is important to who I am as a scientist—to be approachable and a good collaborator."