Associate Director for Translational Research David Cheresh
David Cheresh, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Pathology
The position of Associate Director was created in 2005 to lead the Research Programs primarily identified as translational in design and to facilitate technology transfer between the Cancer Center and industrial partners, and is currently held by David Cheresh, PhD. He was recruited to UC San Diego from the Scripps Research Institute in March 2005 by the Department of Pathology. In addition to his role in the Cancer Center, Cheresh is a professor of pathology. Reporting to Cheresh are the Program Leaders of Hematologic Malignancies and Cancer Symptom Control. Cheresh co-leads a program in this division, called Solid Tumor Therapeutics. To assist Cheresh in his efforts to attract and collaborate with industry colleagues is Ida Deichaite, PhD, Director of the Office of Industrial Relations.
Moores Cancer Center is a leader in the study of angiogenesis, or how tumors develop the blood supply necessary for their own survival. Now, the recruitment and leadership appointment of Cheresh, acknowledged to be one of the world's leading authorities in the field, strongly positions the Cancer Center to become a center of excellence for translational research, and specifically anti-angiogenic therapy. Cheresh's laboratory was the first to show that certain integrins—receptors on the surface of tumor-associated blood vessels—facilitate the process of angiogenesis. He has successfully translated laboratory discoveries into two drugs that interfere with those integrins, thereby blocking tumor angiogenesis, starving the tumor of its nutrients and limiting its ability to invade other areas of the body. These drugs, the first of a new class of drugs, are initially being tested with great success in advanced melanoma, prostate and brain cancer patients, but may be effective for many tumor types. Cheresh is also known for his landmark work in the related areas of tumor invasion and metastasis. He and his team have identified key signaling pathways that allow tumor cells to invade. Recently, he and Cancer Center colleague Dwayne Stupack, PhD, identified a novel pathway that promotes the survival of invading neuroblastoma tumor cells leading to distant tumor cell metastasis. In addition to drugs, he and his UC San Diego colleagues are working on new methods of early detection, including one focused on identifying new markers that may predict pancreatic cancer.
Cheresh earned his PhD from the University of Miami School of Medicine, and in 1982 joined The Scripps Research Institute as a postdoctoral fellow, thereafter joining the faculty there in 1985. He was promoted to professor of immunology in 1996. Cheresh has published more than 180 professional papers and is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals.