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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 a high rate of metastasis, the primary cause of cancer death. 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 BLBC is a gene called TP53. Defective TP53 proteins are known to work with numerous “co-driver” mutations that cause diverse cancer behaviors. Hence, there is an increasing need to identify the collaborative mutant genes for a combined approach that addresses both the TP53 pathway, as well as the co-driver pathways that collaborate with TP53 to cause cancer. To discover the co-drivers of specific TP53 mutants, Dr. LaBaer and his team have developed a set of functional assays that will help them identify genes that cooperate with mutated TP53 and lead to malignancy. The results will provide a valuable mechanistic basis for personalized medicine to treat BLBC patients with combinatorial therapeutic approaches. In the course of his research, with BCRF support over the years Dr. LaBaer’s team has developed a unique gene resource of more than 200,000 gene plasmids available to researchers worldwide.


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.