Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon)

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon)

Professor Emeritus, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
David A. Wood Distinguished Professorship of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research

Phone: (415) 502-1710 (voice)
Box 0128, UCSF
San Francisco, CA 94143-0128

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Cancer Center Membership

Program Member » Breast Oncology» Developmental Therapeutics

Research Summary

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, is Professor Emeritus of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, Dr. McCormick pursued cancer-related work with several Bay Area biotechnology firms and held positions with Cetus Corporation (Director of Molecular Biology, 1981-1990; Vice President of Research, 1990-1991) and Chiron Corporation, where he was Vice President of Research from 1991 to 1992. In 1992 he founded Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a company dedicated to developing new cancer therapies, and served as its Chief Scientific Officer until 1996. At Onyx Pharmaceuticals, he initiated and led drug discovery efforts that led to the approval of Sorafenib in 2005 for treatment of renal cell cancer, and for liver cancer in 2007, and the approval of ONYX-015 in 2006 in China for treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer. Sorafenib is being tested in multiple indications worldwide. In addition, Dr. McCormick’s group led to the identification of a CDK4 kinase inhibitor. Dr. McCormick's current research interests center on the fundamental differences between normal and cancer cells that can allow the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies.

Dr. McCormick holds the David A. Wood Chair of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research at UCSF. Dr. McCormick is the author of over 285 scientific publications and holds 20 issued patents. He also served as President, 2012-2013 for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). More recently, he has taken a leadership role at the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research, overseeing an NCI supported national effort to develop therapies against Ras-driven cancers. These cancers include most pancreatic cancers, and many colorectal and lung cancers, and are amongst the most difficult cancers to treat.


University of Birmingham, England, B.Sc., 1972, Biochemistry
University of Cambridge, England, Ph.D., 1975, Biochemistry

Professional Experience

  • 1975-1978
    Professor Seymour S. Cohen, SUNY at Stony Brook (Post Doctoral Fellow)
  • 1978-1981
    Dr. Alan Smith, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (Post Doctoral Fellow)
  • 1981-1990
    Cetus Corporation (Director of Molecular Biology)
  • 1990-1991
    Cetus Corporation (Vice President, Research)
  • 1991-1992
    Chiron Corporation (Vice President, Research)
  • 1992-1996
    Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Founder, Chief Scientific Officer)
  • 1997-2013
    University of California, San Francisco, Microbiology & Immunology (Professor)
  • 1997-2014
    University of California, San Francisco, Cancer Center (Director, Associate Dean)
  • 2013-present
    University of California, San Francisco, Microbiology & Immunology (Professor Emeritus)
  • 2013-present
    University of California, San Francisco, Cancer Center (Professor Emeritus)
  • 2013-present
    National Cancer Institute, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Project Leader

Honors & Awards

  • 1996
    Fellow of the Royal Society
  • 2002
    Bristol Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant
  • 2002
    AACR – G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award
  • 2002
    Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research
  • 2003
    University of Chicago, Cancer Research Center, Shubitz Award
  • 2005
    Institute of Medicine
  • 2010
    ASCO Science of Oncology Award
  • 2014
    National Academy of Science

Selected Publications

  1. Gillette WK, Esposito D, Abreu Blanco M, Alexander P, Bindu L, Bittner C, Chertov O, Frank PH, Grose C, Jones JE, Meng Z, Perkins S, Van Q, Ghirlando R, Fivash M, Nissley DV, McCormick F, Holderfield M, Stephen AG. Farnesylated and methylated KRAS4b: high yield production of protein suitable for biophysical studies of prenylated protein-lipid interactions. Sci Rep. 2015; 5:15916.
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  2. Tetsu O, Eisele DW, McCormick F. Resistance to EGFR-targeted Therapy by Ets-1 Inactivation. Cell Cycle. 2015 Aug 27; 0.
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  3. Phuchareon J, McCormick F, Eisele DW, Tetsu O. EGFR inhibition evokes innate drug resistance in lung cancer cells by preventing Akt activity and thus inactivating Ets-1 function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jul 21; 112(29):E3855-63.
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  4. Nan X, Tamgüney TM, Collisson EA, Lin LJ, Pitt C, Galeas J, Lewis S, Gray JW, McCormick F, Chu S. Ras-GTP dimers activate the Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 30; 112(26):7996-8001.
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  5. Fujita-Sato S, Galeas J, Truitt M, Pitt C, Urisman A, Bandyopadhyay S, Ruggero D, McCormick F. Enhanced MET Translation and Signaling Sustains K-Ras-Driven Proliferation under Anchorage-Independent Growth Conditions. Cancer Res. 2015 Jul 15; 75(14):2851-62.
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  6. McCormick F. KRAS as a Therapeutic Target. Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Apr 15; 21(8):1797-801.
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  7. McCormick F. The potential of targeting Ras proteins in lung cancer. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2015 Apr; 19(4):451-4.
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  8. Martins MM, Zhou AY, Corella A, Horiuchi D, Yau C, Rakshandehroo T, Gordan JD, Levin RS, Johnson J, Jascur J, Shales M, Sorrentino A, Cheah J, Clemons PA, Shamji AF, Schreiber SL, Krogan NJ, Shokat KM, McCormick F, Goga A, Bandyopadhyay S. Linking Tumor Mutations to Drug Responses via a Quantitative Chemical-Genetic Interaction Map. Cancer Discov. 2015 Feb; 5(2):154-67.
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  9. Phuchareon J, Overdevest JB, McCormick F, Eisele DW, van Zante A, Tetsu O. Fatty Acid binding protein 7 is a molecular marker in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands: implications for clinical significance. Transl Oncol. 2014 Dec; 7(6):780-7.
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  10. Guinney J, Dienstmann R, Ferté C, Friend S, McCormick F. Social interactomes for enabling research communities. Cancer Discov. 2014 Nov; 4(11):1265-8.
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  11. Phuchareon J, van Zante A, Overdevest JB, McCormick F, Eisele DW, Tetsu O. c-Kit Expression is Rate-Limiting for Stem Cell Factor-Mediated Disease Progression in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Salivary Glands. Transl Oncol. 2014 Oct; 7(5):537-45.
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  12. Sos ML, Levin RS, Gordan JD, Oses-Prieto JA, Webber JT, Salt M, Hann B, Burlingame AL, McCormick F, Bandyopadhyay S, Shokat KM. Oncogene mimicry as a mechanism of primary resistance to BRAF inhibitors. Cell Rep. 2014 Aug 21; 8(4):1037-48.
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  13. Yuan TL, Fellmann C, Lee CS, Ritchie CD, Thapar V, Lee LC, Hsu DJ, Grace D, Carver JO, Zuber J, Luo J, McCormick F, Lowe SW. Development of siRNA payloads to target KRAS-mutant cancer. Cancer Discov. 2014 Oct; 4(10):1182-97.
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  14. Holderfield M, Deuker MM, McCormick F, McMahon M. Targeting RAF kinases for cancer therapy: BRAF-mutated melanoma and beyond. Nat Rev Cancer. 2014 Jul; 14(7):455-67.
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  15. Nwachukwu BU, McCormick FM, Schairer WW, Frank RM, Provencher MT, Roche MW. Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty versus high tibial osteotomy: United States practice patterns for the surgical treatment of unicompartmental arthritis. J Arthroplasty. 2014 Aug; 29(8):1586-9.
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  16. Thai M, Graham NA, Braas D, Nehil M, Komisopoulou E, Kurdistani SK, McCormick F, Graeber TG, Christofk HR. Adenovirus E4ORF1-induced MYC activation promotes host cell anabolic glucose metabolism and virus replication. Cell Metab. 2014 Apr 1; 19(4):694-701.
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  17. Stephen AG, Esposito D, Bagni RK, McCormick F. Dragging ras back in the ring. Cancer Cell. 2014 Mar 17; 25(3):272-81.
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  18. Holderfield M, Lorenzana E, Weisburd B, Lomovasky L, Boussemart L, Lacroix L, Tomasic G, Favre M, Vagner S, Robert C, Ghoddusi M, Daniel D, Pryer N, McCormick F, Stuart D. Vemurafenib cooperates with HPV to promote initiation of cutaneous tumors. Cancer Res. 2014 Apr 15; 74(8):2238-45.
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  19. Kashiyama T, Oda K, Ikeda Y, Shiose Y, Hirota Y, Inaba K, Makii C, Kurikawa R, Miyasaka A, Koso T, Fukuda T, Tanikawa M, Shoji K, Sone K, Arimoto T, Wada-Hiraike O, Kawana K, Nakagawa S, Matsuda K, McCormick F, Aburatani H, Yano T, Osuga Y, Fujii T. Antitumor activity and induction of TP53-dependent apoptosis toward ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma by the dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor DS-7423. PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e87220.
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  20. Abrams GD, Harris JD, Gupta AK, McCormick FM, Bush-Joseph CA, Verma NN, Cole BJ, Bach BR. Functional Performance Testing After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2014 Jan; 2(1):2325967113518305.
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