John M. Schmitt

John M. Schmitt, PhD

Director, School of Natural Sciences

Professor of Biology



Office: EHS 214

I joined the Department of Biology and Chemistry at George Fox University as an assistant professor in 2005 and currently serve as director of the School of Natural Sciences and the Holman Professor of Biology within the department.

People are my passion, and I love to help others learn by sharing my life through teaching, advising and research. As a biologist, my teaching goals are primarily designed to educate students' working knowledge and appreciation of the natural world. Biology and all of its intricacies enables me to use various techniques to create simple and powerful analogies students can understand within the classroom.

Good teaching takes place in all facets of life, and I have been blessed to be part of the George Fox community, its students and our alumni. I love biology and enjoy conducting original scholarly research that includes undergraduate students as well as designing experiences to allow students exposure to disciplines of biology outside the walls of George Fox.

The mission statement for my research laboratory is, "To better understand God’s creation and ourselves and to make discoveries that advance biology and improve human health."

Academic Background

BS, Biology, Pacific University (1995)
PhD, Cell & Developmental Biology, Oregon Health Sciences University [OHSU] (2002)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Vollum Institute at OHSU, with Dr. Tom Soderling (2002-05)

Expertise and Research Interests

My research focuses on the cellular, biochemical and molecular events that control and regulate cell growth, survival and oncogenesis (cancer). Cancer is the second-leading cause of non-infectious deaths worldwide. The current goals of the cancer research field are to develop treatments that are highly selective and specific for their target tumor cells.

Identifying specific hormones, genes and cellular proteins that may be altered in various cancers is an area of intensive investigation within my laboratory. Several of the biochemical and molecular pathways that have been implicated in cancer and are investigated in my laboratory include the Calcium/Calmodulin-dependent protein kinases (CaM Kinases), the extracellular-regulated protein kinase (ERK), and the survival enzyme, AKT among others. We have presented and published on the molecular mechanisms that may contribute to the regulation of these signaling pathways inside cancer cells (breast, prostate and brain).

I am currently Principal Investigator (P.I.) on a grant that I received from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The grant is designed to evaluate the ability of the hormone, vitamin D (naturally produced in the liver), to block cancer cell growth. In particular, we have focused on the ability of vitamin D to blocked estrogen-stimulated breast cancer cell growth. The grant has provided and will continue to provide significant financial support for research students, numerous supplies, and key research equipment and instrumentation.

Select Research Bibliography

Publications and Presentations

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

BIOL 211 – General Biology
BIOL 370 – Microbiology
BIOL 410 – Molecular Biology
BIOL 420 – Cell Biology

Outside the Classroom

I am a native Oregonian with many roots in the Pacific Northwest. We love living in the Willamette Valley and the Newberg community. My wife and I are blessed to have two wonderful daughters who both enjoy playing soccer, piano and reading books. As a family we like to play board and card games, ride our ATV, watch movies, go fishing and surfing, and relaxing in the coastal town of Pacific City. My wife is a physician, and we also enjoy landscaping and gardening at our country home in the Newberg area.