University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Zena Werb, PhD

Zena Werb, PhD

Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Anatomy, UCSF; Associate Director for Basic Science, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Breast Oncology | Cancer Immunology

Research Summary

I have led projects on breast cancer and the environment, concentrating on puberty as the window of susceptibility for the past 12 years. My expertise in breast development, breast cancer, and the epithelial microenvironment has been developed over three decades. I have concentrated on the molecular mechanisms involved in extracellular matrix remodeling and inflammatory cell function in mammary development and breast cancer. We have developed and used a variety of new technologies and models ranging from molecular biology to genetically engineered mouse models to intravital microscopy and 3D culture models. We have published over 450 scientific papers.

My major interest is in driving the field of the extracellular microenvironment in development, inflammation, fibrosis, and tumor biology forward technically and conceptually. Another goal is to determine insights from mammary development that help explain breast stem cells, and susceptibility to cancer development and metastasis. My research program has been characterized by innovation and thoroughness. I have considerable experience in administering projects with collaborations and co-authored publications. I have also put considerable effort into mentoring young scientists and have trained more than 70 students and postdoctoral fellows.

Education

University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, B.Sc., 1966, Biochemistry
Rockefeller University, New York, NY, Ph.D., 1971, Cell Biology
Strangeways Research. Laboratory, Cambridge, U.K., Postdoc., 1971-73, Protein Chemistry


Professional Experience

  • 1973-1975
    Research Scientist, Strangeways Res. Lab., Cambridge, U.K.
  • 1975-1976
    Visiting Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH
  • 1976-1980
    Asst. Professor of Radiobiology, Radiology, Univ. of California, San Francisco
  • 1979-1980
    Asst. Professor of Anatomy, UCSF
  • 1980-1983
    Assoc. Professor of Anatomy and Radiology, UCSF
  • 1983-present
    Professor of Anatomy, UCSF
  • 1985-1986
    Visiting Prof. (Lab. of N.J. Proudfoot), Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Univ. of Oxford, U.K.
  • 1998
    Visiting Professor, Institut Curie Paris
  • 1999-present
    Vice-chair, Dept of Anatomy, UCSF
  • 2006-2007
    Visiting Professor, Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany

Honors & Awards

  • 1971-1973
    Fellow, Medical Research Council of Canada
  • 1982
    R.R. Bensley Memorial Lecturer of the American Association of Anatomists
  • 1985-1986
    Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation
  • 1986
    Muriel Trotter Lecturer, Washington University, St. Louis
  • 1993-1994
    Sigma Xi National Lecturer
  • 1996
    FASEB Excellence in Science Award
  • 1997
    Chitra Biswas Memorial Lecturer, Tufts Medical School
  • 1998
    Rothschild/Mayent Fellowship, Institut Curie, Paris
  • 1998
    Earl Benditt Distinguished Lecturer, University of Washington
  • 1999
    J.L. Melnick Lecturer, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 1999
    Biosciences Distinguished Lecturer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • 2000
    Gwendolyn J. Stewart Award, Temple University
  • 2001
    Charlotte Friend Lecturer, AACR
  • 2001
    44th Faculty Research Lecturer, UCSF
  • 2001
    H.B. Parker Lecture, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • 2002
    Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
  • 2003
    Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2003
    Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa), University of Copenhagen
  • 2004
    Schlessinger Lecture, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • 2004
    A. S. Wiener Lecture, New York Blood Center
  • 2005
    Maud L. Menten Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
  • 2006
    Alexander von Humboldt Research Award
  • 2007
    E.B. Wilson Medal, American Society for Cell Biology
  • 2009
    Colin Thomson Memorial Medal, Association for International Cancer Research
  • 2010
    Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2010
    American Society for Cell Biology, Women in Cell Biology Senior Award
  • 2011
    Zero Breast Cancer 2011 Community Breast Cancer Research Award

Selected Publications

  1. Cooke DL, McCoy DB, Halbach VV, Hetts SW, Amans MR, Dowd CF, Higashida RT, Lawson D, Nelson J, Wang CY, Kim H, Werb Z, McCulloch C, Hashimoto T, Su H, Sun Z. Endovascular Biopsy: In Vivo Cerebral Aneurysm Endothelial Cell Sampling and Gene Expression Analysis. Transl Stroke Res. 2017 Sep 13.
    View on PubMed
  2. Shahi P, Wang CY, Chou J, Hagerling C, Gonzalez Veloso H, Ruderisch A, Yu Y, Lai MD, Werb Z. GATA3 targets semaphorin 3B in mammary epithelial cells to suppress breast cancer progression and metastasis. Oncogene. 2017 Jun 05.
    View on PubMed
  3. Kessenbrock K, Smith P, Steenbeek SC, Pervolarakis N, Kumar R, Minami Y, Goga A, Hinck L, Werb Z. Diverse regulation of mammary epithelial growth and branching morphogenesis through noncanonical Wnt signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 21; 114(12):3121-3126.
    View on PubMed
  4. Shahi P, Wang CY, Lawson DA, Slorach EM, Lu A, Yu Y, Lai MD, Gonzalez Velozo H, Werb Z. ZNF503/Zpo2 drives aggressive breast cancer progression by down-regulation of GATA3 expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 21; 114(12):3169-3174.
    View on PubMed
  5. Takai K, Le A, Weaver VM, Werb Z. Targeting the cancer-associated fibroblasts as a treatment in triple-negative breast cancer. Oncotarget. 2016 Dec 13; 7(50):82889-82901.
    View on PubMed
  6. Wang CY, Shahi P, Huang JT, Phan NN, Sun Z, Lin YC, Lai MD, Werb Z. Systematic analysis of the achaete-scute complex-like gene signature in clinical cancer patients. Mol Clin Oncol. 2017 Jan; 6(1):7-18.
    View on PubMed
  7. Horiuchi D, Camarda R, Zhou AY, Yau C, Momcilovic O, Balakrishnan S, Corella AN, Eyob H, Kessenbrock K, Lawson DA, Marsh LA, Anderton BN, Rohrberg J, Kunder R, Bazarov AV, Yaswen P, McManus MT, Rugo HS, Werb Z, Goga A. PIM1 kinase inhibition as a targeted therapy against triple-negative breast tumors with elevated MYC expression. Nat Med. 2016 Nov; 22(11):1321-1329.
    View on PubMed
  8. Allaoui R, Bergenfelz C, Mohlin S, Hagerling C, Salari K, Werb Z, Anderson RL, Ethier SP, Jirström K, Påhlman S, Bexell D, Tahin B, Johansson ME, Larsson C, Leandersson K. Cancer-associated fibroblast-secreted CXCL16 attracts monocytes to promote stroma activation in triple-negative breast cancers. Nat Commun. 2016 Oct 11; 7:13050.
    View on PubMed
  9. Koledova Z, Zhang X, Streuli C, Clarke RB, Klein OD, Werb Z, Lu P. SPRY1 regulates mammary epithelial morphogenesis by modulating EGFR-dependent stromal paracrine signaling and ECM remodeling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Sep 27; 113(39):E5731-40.
    View on PubMed
  10. Trivedi A, Zhang H, Ekeledo A, Lee S, Werb Z, Plant GW, Noble-Haeusslein LJ. Deficiency in matrix metalloproteinase-2 results in long-term vascular instability and regression in the injured mouse spinal cord. Exp Neurol. 2016 Oct; 284(Pt A):50-62.
    View on PubMed
  11. Chou J, Chan MF, Werb Z. Metalloproteinases: a Functional Pathway for Myeloid Cells. Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Apr; 4(2).
    View on PubMed
  12. Hagerling C, Werb Z. Neutrophils: Critical components in experimental animal models of cancer. Semin Immunol. 2016 Apr; 28(2):197-204.
    View on PubMed
  13. Williams KE, Lemieux GA, Hassis ME, Olshen AB, Fisher SJ, Werb Z. Quantitative proteomic analyses of mammary organoids reveals distinct signatures after exposure to environmental chemicals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Mar 08; 113(10):E1343-51.
    View on PubMed
  14. Lawson DA, Werb Z, Zong Y, Goldstein AS. The Cleared Mammary Fat Pad Transplantation Assay for Mammary Epithelial Organogenesis. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2015 Dec 02; 2015(12):pdb.prot078071.
    View on PubMed
  15. Kim M, M Shewan A, Ewald AJ, Werb Z, Mostov KE. p114RhoGEF governs cell motility and lumen formation during tubulogenesis through a ROCK-myosin-II pathway. J Cell Sci. 2015 Dec 01; 128(23):4317-27.
    View on PubMed
  16. Lawson DA, Bhakta NR, Kessenbrock K, Prummel KD, Yu Y, Takai K, Zhou A, Eyob H, Balakrishnan S, Wang CY, Yaswen P, Goga A, Werb Z. Single-cell analysis reveals a stem-cell program in human metastatic breast cancer cells. Nature. 2015 Oct 01; 526(7571):131-5.
    View on PubMed
  17. Plaks V, Boldajipour B, Linnemann JR, Nguyen NH, Kersten K, Wolf Y, Casbon AJ, Kong N, van den Bijgaart RJ, Sheppard D, Melton AC, Krummel MF, Werb Z. Adaptive Immune Regulation of Mammary Postnatal Organogenesis. Dev Cell. 2015 Sep 14; 34(5):493-504.
    View on PubMed
  18. Sun Z, Lawson DA, Sinclair E, Wang CY, Lai MD, Hetts SW, Higashida RT, Dowd CF, Halbach VV, Werb Z, Su H, Cooke DL. Endovascular biopsy: Strategy for analyzing gene expression profiles of individual endothelial cells obtained from human vessels?. Biotechnol Rep (Amst). 2015 Sep; 7:157-165.
    View on PubMed
  19. Chan MF, Werb Z. Animal Models of Corneal Injury. Bio Protoc. 2015 Jul 05; 5(13):e1516.
    View on PubMed
  20. Chan MF, Werb Z. Confocal Imaging of Myeloid Cells in the Corneal Stroma of Live Mice. Bio Protoc. 2015 Jul 05; 5(13):e1517.
    View on PubMed

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