Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D. is Professor of Experimental Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She earned a BA in Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Duke University in Durham, NC. She carried out postdoctoral research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. She was Instructor of Pathology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from 1988-1989 prior to moving to Tufts University Medical School where she was Assistant Professor of Physiology (1989-1992) followed by Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA where she was Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (1992-1994). In 1994, Dr. Piwnica-Worms moved to Washington University School of Medicine where she was the Gerty T. Cori Professor, an HHMI Investigator and served as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology as well as Associate Director of Basic Science at the Alvin J. Siteman Comprehensive Cancer Center. She relocated her research program to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2013 where she holds the Senator A. M. Aikin Jr. Distinguished Chair. She is an elected fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the AACR. She is an American Cancer Society Research Professor and a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

The Piwnica-Worms research laboratory focuses on identifying alterations with functional significance to the development and progression of breast cancer. A major effort is directed towards elucidating the contribution made by heterogeneity (genomic, phenotypic, spatial and compositional) in both the tumor and its microenvironment to cancer progression, metastasis and therapy resistance. Another major interest is in determining how fasting protects the small intestine from high dose radiation with the goal of enabling dose escalation strategies for treating patients with cancer.

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Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology