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METAvivor's research program is advised by a team of preeminent scientists and oncologists specializing in metastatic cancer research and treatment. In addition to providing expertise regarding the research that METAvivor funds, our Research Advisory Board also supports the METAvivor patient community with up-to-date information about relevant news and progress regarding research and treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
Dr. Danny R Welch
Founding Director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s (KUMC) Department of Cancer Biology
Director of the NFCR’s (National Foundation for Cancer Research) Metastasis Research Center
Professor and Chair, Adjunct faculty of Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology (KUMC)
Dr. Welch currently serves on the board of directors for the Cancer Biology Training Consortium and on the Extramural Scientific Advisory Board for the American Cancer Society. He is past president of the Metastasis Research Society, past chair of the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Cancer Genetics Study Section and has been actively involved with the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).
The focus of Dr. Welch’s research is on the science of tumor progression and the regulation of cancer metastasis. His lab has developed and characterized many widely used metastasis models, discovering six of the 30 known metastasis suppressors. Dr. Welch was the recipient of the first METAvivor Research Grant.
Dr. Stuart. S. Martin, PhD.
Associate Professor at the Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Dr. Martin then did his postdoctoral training in Dr. Phil Leder’s Lab at Harvard Medical School where he combined functional genomic tissue culture systems with mouse models of breast cancer to examine how the cytoskeleton regulates tumor cell survival during metastasis.
In 2004, he joined the University of Maryland, as an Assistant Professor of Physiology in the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center to continue his work on breast tumor metastasis. In 2009, he was recognized from over 300 graduate faculty as the “Teacher of the Year” in the Graduate Program in Life Sciences, and received tenure in 2011.
Most normal epithelial cells undergo controlled cell-death if they ever detach from the mammary gland during development. His studies have found that metastatic breast tumor cells are not sensitive to this controlled cell-death and can therefore, survive longer when detached from the malignant breast tissue. This “detachment” in turn helps these “circulating tumor cells” spread to other secondary tissues (lungs, bone, brain, etc) and establish new metastatic growths.
Using the latest genomic and proteomics approach, Dr. Martin also investigates genes involved in the survival of these circulating tumor cells. An additional project in the Martin Lab focuses on understanding “tumor dormancy” using the latest live-imaging techniques. Dr. Martin can observe “dormant tumor cells” in live animals and study treatment/therapeutic responses of these cells during tumor dormancy. Dr. Martin’s lab also made the first discovery of unique “microtentacles” on breast tumor cells that increase the ability of circulating breast tumor cells to reattach in distant tissues during metastasis. In recent years, Dr. Martin’s group has published a series of pioneering articles defining the molecular characteristics of microtentacles and mechanisms to target them therapeutically to reduce metastasis.
Dr. Stuart Martin has published over 75 research articles and abstracts in cancer research, and is the recipient of many funded-grants from the NIH, Department of Defense and numerous private cancer research foundations. In 2010, Dr. Martin was one of three investigators nationwide to receive a Breast Cancer Era of Hope Scholar award from the congressionally-directed medical research program. Dr. Martin also holds patents on the microtentacle discoveries made by his group, and is looking to partner with biopharmaceutical companies for the development of new imaging technologies and drug treatments to reduce breast cancer metastasis.