Alana L. Welm, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Oncological Sciences
Alana Welm, PhD, is an investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute, an assistant professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah, and a member of the Cell Response and Regulation Program. Welm's laboratory studies breast cancer and metastasis.
Death from breast cancer is largely attributed to metastasis—when the disease spreads to other tissues. In order to metastasize, cancer cells must be able to invade the local tissue; escape from the primary site; enter into and survive in the bloodstream or lymphatic system; pass from the blood vessels into other organs; and adapt to or modify the new site to create a new tumor. The molecular mechanisms that facilitate these steps are largely unknown and are the focus of Welm's research. Her lab has developed new in vitro and in vivo approaches to better understand breast cancer and metastasis. Using 3D culture techniques and a new model system, they discovered that macrophage stimulating protein (MSP) is an important facilitator of breast cancer metastasis in mice and in humans. Current projects include studying the mechanisms that lead MSP to promote the escape of cancer cells from the primary tumor, and exploring the mechanisms by which MSP induces metastasis to bone. The lab also works to develop better models for preclinical breast cancer drug testing.
Welm received her BS from the University of Montana in 1996 and her PhD from Baylor College of Medicine in 2000. She then carried out postdoctoral studies in J. Michael Bishop's lab at the University of California, San Francisco, which were funded in part by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.