2012 - Robert A. Weinberg

Founding Member
MIT Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA


Motivation:
Dr. Robert A. Weinberg is honored for his outstanding contributions to the field of molecular oncology.
Dr. Weinberg's single most important discovery demonstrated for the first time in a PNAS paper in 1979 that the neoplastic behavior of cancer cells can be traced to sequences present in their DNA. This research led to the discovery of somatic mutations that are responsible for the formation of these cancer-causing DNA sequences, initially involving the RAS oncogenes present in ~25% of human tumors.
In ongoing research, the Weinberg laboratory is focusing on cancer progression characterizing the role of the Twist, Goosecoid and FOXC2 transcription factors in inducing an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in carcinoma cells. This led to the demonstration that Twist expression by mouse mammary carcinoma cells is critical to their metastatic properties. Most recently, the laboratory has demonstrated that cells forced through an EMT have many of the properties of epithelial stem cells.
Dr. Weinberg’s seminal discoveries formed a critical basis for the development of novel, targeted cancer therapies and personalized strategies to battle this deadly disease. More recently, his group has succeeded in creating the first genetically defined human cancer cells. He is particularly interested in applying this knowledge to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Dr. Weinberg received his Ph.D. in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Weinberg is the founding member of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He currently serves as Director of the Ludwig Cancer for Molecular Oncology and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Weinberg is the author or editor of six books and more than 390 articles. He has written a comprehensive cancer textbook entitled “The Biology of Cancer”. His other books, intended for a lay audience, are “One Renegade Cell”, "Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer" and "Genes and the Biology of Cancer," co-authored with Dr. Harold E. Varmus, former Director of the National Institutes of Health. He is an elected Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Member of the American Philosophical Society and the Institute of Medicine.
2012 - Robert A. Weinberg
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