Tim Starr, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health (OBGYN)

Tim Starr

Contact Info


Office Phone 612-625-4425

Lab Phone 612-626-3843

Office Address:
12-274 Moos Tower

Mailing Address:
Mayo Mail Code 395
420 Delaware St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Administrative Assistant Name
Trisha Pederson

Administrative Phone

Administrative Email

PhD, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics, University of Minnesota, 2004


Dr. Starr is a Tenured Associate Professor and received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University. Before entering graduate school, Dr. Starr served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, South America. He also worked for eight years in the Twin Cities to promote sustainable agriculture and for four years as a high school science teacher in Minnesota and Hawaii. Dr. Starr returned to the University of Minnesota and earned his Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics while working in the laboratory of Dr. Kristin Hogquist. His Ph.D. thesis focused on understanding T cell development in the thymus. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Starr moved to the field of cancer research and worked as a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. David Largaespada's laboratory.

Leadership roles

Dr. Starr leads the Ovarian Supergroup, is co-chair of the Ob-Gyn Research Committee, and is faculty advisor to the Career Development Committee of the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology graduate program

Awards & Recognition

  • American Association of Cancer Research - AFlac, Inc. Scholar in Training Award, 2011
  • NIH Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) award, 2010-current
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Cancer Society, 2007-2010
  • NIH Cancer Biology Training Grant, 2005-2006
  • Doctoral Dissertation Graduate Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • NIH Predoctoral Training Grant, Center for Immunology, 2001-2003


Research Summary/Interests

Research Interests

Dr. Starr’s research is aimed at understanding the genetic basis of cancer in order to develop individualized, targeted therapies. In order to identify new drug targets and to understand the signaling pathways that cause cancer, Dr. Starr has developed an in vivo model that can be used to pinpoint the genetic changes that lead to cancer. The model uses the Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon as a mutagen and he is currently using this model to find genetic changes that cause ovarian, lung and colon cancer.

Research Projects

Current research in the Starr lab is focused in three areas. First, we are performing forward genetic screens in mice using the Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon to identify genes that, when mutated, cause ovarian and lung cancer. Second we are studying the function of six cancer genes that we already discovered to see if they play a significant role in causing cancer and if they can be targeted for therapy. Finally, we are developing a pre-clinical mouse model of ovarian cancer that can be used to test multiple drugs simultaneously.


  • Than, B.L.N, Goos, J.A.C.M., Sarver, A. L., O’Sullivan, M.G., Rod, A., Starr, T.K., Fijneman, R.J.A., Meijer, G., Largaespada, D.A., Scott, P.M., and Cormier, R.T. 2013. The role of KCNQ1 in mouse and human gastrointestinal cancers.Oncogene, Aug 26.
  • TaeHyun Hwang, Gowtham Atluri, Rui Kuang, Vipin Kumar, Timothy Starr, Peter M Haverty, Zemin Zhang, Jinfeng Liu. 2013. Large-scale integrative network-based analysis identifies common pathways disrupted by copy number alterations across cancers. BMC Genomics, 14:440.
  • Callie Janik and Timothy K. Starr. 2013. Identification of Sleeping Beauty transposon insertions using linker-mediated PCR. Journal Of Visualized Experiments, 1;(72).e50156.
  • Somasekar Seshagiri, Eric Stawiski, Steffen Durinck, Zora Modrusan, Elaine E. Storm, Caitlin B. Conboy, Subhra Chaudhuri, Yinghui Guan, Vasantharajan Janakiraman, Bijay S. Jaiswal, Joseph Guillory, Connie Ha, Gerrit J. P. Dijkgraaf, Jeremy Stinson, Florian Gnad, Melanie A. Huntley, Jeremiah Degenhardt, Peter M. Haverty, Richard Bourgon, Weiru Wang, Hartmut Koeppen, Robert Gentleman, Timothy K. Starr, Zemin Zhang, David A. Largaespada, Thomas D. Wu and Frederic J. de Sauvage. 2012. Recurrent R-spondin fusions in colon cancer. Nature, 488:66.
  • Aaron Sarver, Jesse Erdman, Timothy K. Starr, Vincent Keng, David A. Largaespada, and Kevin A. T. Silverstein. TAPDANCE: Transposon Annotation CIS identified via Poisson Distribution statistics in an Association Network Connectivity Environment. 2012, Bioinformatics, 13:154, PMCID: In Process
  • Tracy L. Bergemann*, Timothy K. Starr*, Haoyu Yu, Michael Steinbach, Yun Chen, Robert T. Cormier, David A. Largaespada and Kevin A.T. Silverstein. New methods for finding common insertion sites and co-occurring common insertion sites in transposon- and virus-based genetic screens. 2012, Nucleic Acids Research. * Both authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Timothy K. Starr, Patricia M. Scott, Benjamin M. Marsh, Lei Zhao, Bich L.N. Than, M. Gerard O'Sullivan, Aaron L. Sarver, Adam J. Dupuy, David A. Largaespada, Robert T. Cormier. A Sleeping Beauty transposon mediated screen identifies murine susceptibility genes for Apc-dependent intestinal tumorigenesis. 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108:5765.
  • Adam Dupuy, Laura Rogers, Jinsil Kim, Kishore Nannapaneni, Timothy Starr, Pentao Liu, David Largaespada, Todd Scheetz, Nancy Jenkins and Neal G. Copeland. A modified Sleeping Beauty transposon system that can be used to model a wide variety of human cancers in mice. 2009. Cancer Research, 69:8150.
  • Timothy Starr, Raha Allaei, Kevin Silverstein, Rodney Staggs, Aaron Sarver, Tracy Bergemann, Mihir Gupta, M. Gerard O’Sullivan, Ilze Matise, Adam Dupuy, Lara Collier, Scott Powers, Ann Oberg, Yan Asmann, Stephen Thibodeau, Lino Tessarollo, Neal Copeland, Nancy Jenkins, Robert Cormier and David A. Largaespada. A Transposon-Based Genetic Screen in Mice Identifies Genes Altered in Colorectal Cancer. 2009. Science, 323:1747.
  • Vincent Keng, Augusto Villanueva, Derek Chiang, Adam Dupuy, Barbara Ryan, Ilze Matise, Kevin Silverstein, Aaron Sarver, Timothy Starr, Keiko Akagi, Lino Tessarollo, Lara S Collier, Scott Powers, Scott Lowe, Nancy Jenkins, Neal Copeland, Josep Llovet, and David Largaespada. A conditional transposon-based insertional mutagenesis screen for genes associated with mouse hepatocellular carcinoma. 2009. Nature Biotechnology, 27:264.
  • Timothy Starr and David Largaespada. Cancer Gene Discovery using the Sleeping Beauty Transposon. 2005. Cell Cycle, 4:1744.

For a list of publications, see PubMed.