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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Joshua LaBaer, MD, PhD

Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Biodesign Institute
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

Current Research

Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) is a particularly aggressive disease with few treatment options. Dr. LaBaer’s team is focused on identifying genes that are especially important in designing therapies to treat BLBC and other aggressive cancers. A key “driver” in breast cancer is a gene called TP53, which is mutated in 35% of breast cases, especially basal-like tumors. A successful therapy will likely require a combined approach that addresses both the TP53 pathway, as well as the “co-driver” pathways that collaborate with TP53 to cause cancer. Resistance to therapy in breast cancer patients is also a serious clinical problem and major efforts are underway in the LaBaer laboratory to study genes that contribute to resistance to drugs such as tamoxifen, fulvestrant and trastuzumab (Herceptin®).

In the course of his research, with BCRF support over the years Dr. LaBaer’s team has developed a large gene collection containing information on more than 12,000 human genes, available to all researchers in the scientific community. 


Joshua LaBaer is one of the nation's foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized medicine. Formerly director of the Harvard Institute of Proteomics (HIP), he was recruited to ASU's Biodesign Institute as the first Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine.  Dr. LaBaer's efforts involve leveraging the Center's formidable resources for the discovery and validation of biomarkers - unique molecular fingerprints of disease - which can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. This work is carried out in conjunction with the Partnership for Personalized Medicine, a multi-institution effort that includes the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle.

Dr. LaBaer is a board certified physician in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology and was an Instructor and Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and now serves as Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. He has contributed to over 140 original research publications, is an associate editor of the Journal of Proteome Research, a member of the editorial boards of Analytical Biochemistry, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, Cancer Biomarkers, Molecular Biosystems, and Clinical Proteomics. Formerly a member of the NCI’s Board of Scientific Advisors, he serves as chair of the NCI’s Early Detection Research Network Executive Committee and Co-Chair of its Steering Committee. He is the president of the US Human Proteome Organization and serves on a number of government and industry scientific advisory boards. He earned his medical degree and doctorate (biochemistry and biophysics) at University of California, San Francisco.