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Zena Werb, PhD

Professor and Vice Chair of Department of Anatomy


Zena Werb is a professor at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also the Vice Chair of the Department of Anatomy. Werb has led projects on breast cancer and the environment, concentrating on puberty as the window of susceptibility for the past 12 years. Her expertise in breast development, breast cancer and the epithelial microenvironment has been developed over three decades. She has concentrated on the molecular mechanisms involved in extracellular matrix remodeling and inflammatory cell function in mammary development and breast cancer. Her lab has developed and used a variety of new technologies and models ranging from molecular biology to genetically engineered mouse models to intravital microscopy and 3D culture models.

Education & Training

  • 1966: University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, BS, Biochemistry
  • 1971: Rockefeller University, New York, NY, PhD, Cell Biology
  • 1973: Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge, UK, Postdoc, Protein Chemistry

Awards & Honors

  • 2011: Zero Breast Cancer 2011 Community Breast Cancer Research Award
  • 2010: American Society for Cell Biology, Women in Cell Biology Senior Award; Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2009: Colin Thomson Memorial Medal, Association for International Cancer Research
  • 2007: E.B. Wilson Medal, American Society for Cell Biology
  • 2006: Alexander von Humboldt Research Award
  • 2005: Maud L. Menten Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
  • 2004: A. S. Wiener Lecture, New York Blood Center; Lecture, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • 2003: Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa), University of Copenhagen; Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2002: Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
  • 2001: H.B. Parker Lecture, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; 44th Faculty Research Lecturer, UCSF; Charlotte Friend Lecturer, AACR
  • 2000: Gwendolyn J. Stewart Award, Temple University
  • 1999: Biosciences Distinguished Lecturer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; J.L. Melnick Lecturer, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 1998: Earl Benditt Distinguished Lecturer, University of Washington; Rothschild/Mayent Fellowship, Institut Curie, Paris
  • 1997: Chitra Biswas Memorial Lecturer, Tufts Medical School
  • 1996: FASEB Excellence in Science Award
  • 1994: Sigma Xi National Lecturer
  • 1986: Muriel Trotter Lecturer, Washington University, St. Louis
  • 1986: Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation
  • 1982: R.R. Bensley Memorial Lecturer of the American Association of Anatomists
  • 1973: Fellow, Medical Research Council of Canada