Dr. Zena Werb received her B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Rockefeller University, New York. After postdoctoral studies at the Strangeways Research Laboratory in Cambridge England, she was recruited to the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, where she is currently Professor and Vice-Chair of Anatomy and the Associate Director for Basic Science, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco. She is a member of the UCSF Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, San Francisco.
Her honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the FASEB Excellence in Science Award, the Charlotte Friend Award of the American Association for Cancer Research, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, the E.B. Wilson Medal from the American Society of Cell Biology and the Colin Thomson Memorial Medal from the Association for International Cancer Research. Dr. Werb has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has the honorary degree of Doctor in Medicine from the University of Copenhagen and Doctor of Medical Science (honoris causa), National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. Dr. Werb has served as President of the American Society for Cell Biology and on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research. She has published more than 400 papers. She serves or has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Science, Cell, Genes and Development, Cancer Cell and Developmental Cell.
Dr. Werb is recognized internationally for her fundamental discoveries about the molecular and cellular bases of extracellular matrix proteolysis by matrix metalloproteinases and their roles in the normal functioning and pathogenesis of tissues. Her studies have led to new paradigms about the role of the cellular microenvironment and intercellular communication in breast development and breast cancer. Her current research uses mouse models of breast cancer and patient-derived breast cancer xenografts to study normal mammary development and its perturbation during tumor progression. Her studies focus on the mechanisms by which innate and adaptive immune cells and MMPs in the microenvironment regulate breast cancer development and metastasis, as well as the transcriptional regulation of metastasis.