Joan Massague

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


Election Year: 2000
Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Section: 41, Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research program is devoted to defining the mechanism of Transforming Growth Factors beta (TGF-beta) and the basis for the specificity of its effects on the cell. TGF-beta and related factors, activins and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), are pivotal regulators of many cell functions during embryogenesis and in the adult. The integrity of this signaling network is essential for normal development and tissue homeostasis, and its disruption by mutation underlies several human inherited disorders, cancer, and other diseases. TGF-beta factors are widely multifunctional, eliciting different responses depending on the cell type and cellular context. Work over the past decade has delineated a TGF-beta signal transduction pathway from the membrane to the nucleus. This pathway involves the assembly of two protein complexes that act in sequence: a ligand-driven membrane receptor complex that activates Smad proteins and a Smad-driven transcription complex that activates specific target genes. The ultimate goal is to apply this knowledge to the treatment of disease conditions that derive from alterations in these pathways.

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