Wicha Lab: Experimental Breast Cancer Research


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About Dr. Wicha's Laboratory

The Wicha laboratory is a leader in Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) biology. According to the ISI Citation Index, Dr. Wicha is among the most highly-cited investigators in the field of CSCs. His group was part of the team that first identified breast CSCs. Dr. Wicha’s laboratory identified a number of stem cell markers and developed in vitro and in vivo models to isolate and characterize these cells. These research models and resources have been widely adopted by other investigators. His laboratory subsequently elucidated a number of intrinsic and extrinsic pathways which regulate self-renewal and cell fate decisions in CSCs. Recently, the Wicha laboratory has focused on translating his pre-clinical research findings into the development of clinical trials designed to target breast CSCs.

Mission statement

Our research mission is the conquest of cancer through innovation and collaboration. We seek to accomplish this by creating a stimulating, collaborative research environment where M.D.’s and Ph.D.’s, medical and post-doctoral research fellows and clinicians, graduate students and undergraduates alike can come together to conceive, inspire and drive scientific innovation.  Through our integrated, multi-disciplinary approach we will establish the University of Michigan as the international leader in cancer stem cell research and resulting targeted therapies.

More information about the history of the Wicha Lab is available here.

Translational Oncology Program

In May 2012 Dr. Wicha relocated his Experimental Breast Cancer Research Laboratories and more than forty researchers to the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) buildings 26 and 20W and established the Translational Oncology Program (TOP). With the formation of the TOP, Dr. Wicha has engaged the interest of the best and brightest CSC researchers to the NCRC.  The TOP will be directed by pioneering CSC investigator Dr. Diane Simeone, whose pancreas CSC research is world renowned. In Dr. Wicha's words, “ In many ways, the NCRC embodies the very best of Michigan and epitomizes what sets our institution apart – our ability to focus the efforts of the top minds in diverse fields to find answers to society’s greatest challenges.”

The TOP seeks to drive innovative cancer therapies and is uniquely qualified with numerous leading laboratories in CSC research. TOP investigators are presently exploring cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, colon, prostate and thyroid. By working together and sharing the ample scientific resources of the NCRC, TOP scientists can make progress more rapidly than would be possible by working alone. It is hoped this collaborative approach will revolutionize cancer treatments by targeting and destroying the cells responsible for disease recurrence and metastasis.

Latest from the lab

Dr Wicha to step down as Cancer Center Director

Dr Wicha, the longest-serving cancer center director in the country, has announced that he will step down as the director of U-M's Cancer Center, a position he has held since he founded the Cancer Center in 1986. The move is timed to allow a new director to focus on the next core grant renewal in 2016. Dr Wicha will maintain both his clinical and research practices, and will continue to serve as director until his successor is named.

U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center news release