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Helen Piwnica-Worms

Helen Piwnica-Worms

Regular Member


MDA 2SCR4.3025 (Unit 1052)

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology

The major goals of my research program are to delineate how the cell division cycle is regulated in unperturbed cycling cells (cell cycle control); how cell division is delayed by replicative- and genotoxic stress (checkpoint control); how cancer cells derail these regulatory pathways; and ultimately to use this information to treat human disease.  Clinical, preclinical and basic studies in breast and prostate cancer are a major focus of the laboratory.  We are actively involved in designing and analyzing the results of Phase I/II clinical trials aimed at translating our fundamental knowledge of cell cycle- and checkpoint-control into improved targeted therapies for breast cancer patients.  Recognizing that a key challenge facing breast cancer researchers today is the lack of good preclinical models for studying human breast cancer, we are working with primary human breast tumors obtained directly from breast cancer patients.  These tumors are being propagated in the humanized mammary fat pads of immune compromised mice for our preclinical studies (HIM models).  Many of these models metastasize out of the mouse mammary gland to distant mouse organs, including bone and lung. We are identifying the molecular changes associated with the acquisition of metastasis in this model.  In addition, we are developing mouse models that enable regulatory pathways to be studied non-invasively and repetitively in living mice using molecular imaging strategies, with a particular focus on p21 and CDC25A.


MDACC Faculty

Helen Piwnica-Worms Lab

Education & Training

Ph.D. - Duke University - 1984

Research Info

cell cycle; metastasis; breast cancer; molecular imaging; PDX models