Stephen J. Weiss, MD
E. Gifford and Love Barnett Upjohn Professor of Internal Medicine and Oncology
Chief, Molecular Medicine & Genetics
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
Recent work has focused on identifying the key molecules responsible for supporting the aggressive behavior of triple negative breast cancers, particularly the ability of the cancer cells to metastasize and recruit “helper cell” populations (e.g. endothelial cells – the cells that comprise blood vessels – and mesenchymal stem cells – a normal cell population whose function can be co-opted by cancer cells to help the neoplasm grow). These efforts have led to the identification of a new signaling pathway (known as the Wnt cascade) that allows triple negative breast cancer cells to grow and invade local tissues. Dr. Weiss has also characterized new mechanisms that allow cancer cells to promote new blood vessel formation (i.e. angiogenesis) and discovered potent activators of mesenchymal stem cell and breast cancer cell growth. In addition, his team has described new mechanisms that define the ability of breast cancer cells to mobilize molecular scissors (termed proteinases) that serve to control disease progression. Their research in 2013-2014 will continue along these lines.
After completing his BA, MD, and internship at Ohio State University and Washington University, Dr. Weiss was recruited to the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Michigan in 1978. Most recently, Dr. Weiss served as the Division Chief of Molecular Medicine & Genetics and the Director of the Molecular Mechanisms of Disease Program at the University of Michigan. In 2006, he joined the Life Sciences Institute as a Research Professor.
Dr. Weiss' research efforts have long focused on the mechanisms used by cancer cells to remodel tissue structure during events ranging from inflammatory disease and angiogenesis to cancer. His highly cited works on the role of metalloproteinases in regulating these pathologic events have appeared consistently in top-ranked journals such as Science, Nature, Genes & Development, Journal of Cell Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Cell.
Dr. Weiss has received numerous honors and awards in the course of his academic career, including the National Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Research and a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and in 2001 was selected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Weiss has also served on numerous committees at the NIH as well as the National Cancer Institute, and served as the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Clinical Investigation from 1997 to 2002.