You are here

BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The AutoNation Cure Bowl Award

Area(s) of Focus

Michael Andreeff, MD, PhD

Paul and Mary Haas Chair in Genetics
Chief, Section of Molecular Hematology and Therapy
Professor of Medicine, Department of Leukemia
Professor of Medicine, Department of Stem Cell Transplantation
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Current Research

Recent discoveries in breast cancer research suggest that recurrence or relapse of breast cancer after treatment may be caused by breast cancer stem-like cells (BCSCs), also called breast cancer-initiating cells. While these cells make up a small fraction of the tumor, they are resistant to chemotherapy and capable of metastases (spreading of the tumor to another part of the body). Therefore, targeting BCSCs is an important strategy that could complement standard chemotherapy. Dr. Andreeff’s laboratory recently discovered that BCSCs have a high amount of a cell surface molecule called GD2. They previously reported that GD2 is regulated by a protein called NF-kappa B and that blocking NF-kappa B with chemical inhibitors reduced the amount of GD2 and slowed the growth of breast cancer cells. In the last year they discovered that focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which plays a critical role the in regulation of cancer cell survival, proliferation, migration and metastasis, is also activated in cells with high GD2. Experiments are underway to test drugs that inhibit GD2, NFκB and FAK-mediated cell signaling in a model of bone metastasis, the primary site of breast cancer metastasis. They expect to achieve a major reduction in bone metastases of breast cancer cells with these strategies and believe these findings could be rapidly transformed into clinical trials.


Michael Andreeff received his MD and PhD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and additional training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He has been a pioneer in flow cytometry since 1971, when he established the first flow cytometry laboratory at the University of Heidelberg and organized the first European flow cytometry conference. In 1977 he joined MSKCC, became head of the Leukemia Cell Biology and Hematopathology flow cytometry laboratory, and organized the first Clinical Cytometry Conference in 1986. Since 1990 he has been Professor of Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he holds the Paul and Mary Haas Chair in Genetics . He has published over 450 peer-reviewed papers, 5 books and 75 book chapters.

Dr. Andreeff’s group has worked extensively on drug resistance in hematopoietic malignancies and breast cancer and developed or co-developed several new therapeutic agents including the novel triterpenoids CDDO and CDDO-Me and Bcl-2- , XIAP- , surviving-, MEK- and HDM2- inhibitors. Over the last decade, his group has made major contributions to the understanding of micro-environment-mediated drug resistance and developed strategies to exploit the underlying mechanisms for the treatment of hematopoietic and epithelial malignancies. His group reported the role of bone marrow-derived multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) In tumor stroma formation and developed therapeutic strategies based on this discovery.