Owen N. Witte, M.D., received his undergraduate degree from Cornell and his medical degree from Stanford University. He completed postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he presently is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; distinguished professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, where he holds the president’s chair in developmental immunology; and distinguished professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA
.His work has concentrated on connecting discoveries in basic science to new therapeutic advances in cancer therapy. Witte has made significant contributions to the understanding of human leukemias, immune disorders and epithelial cancer stem cells. His work includes the discovery of tyrosine kinase activity for the ABL gene and the demonstration of the BCR-ABL oncoproteins in human leukemias. This has had practical impact in leading to the development of kinase-targeted therapy as an effective treatment for these leukemias and other cancers. His work also led to the co-discovery of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, which is required for normal B-lymphocyte development, and when mutated leads to X-linked agammagloblulinemia, a form of immune deficiency. This has led to new targeted therapy for a class of B cell lymphomas. Recent work has concentrated on defining the stem cells for epithelial cancers of the prostate and other organ sites to help define new types of therapy for these diseases. This work has led to new monoclonal antibody therapies for prostate and other epithelial cancers now in late-stage clinical trials. His work utilizes advanced whole-body imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) to monitor cancer growth and cellular immune functions.
Witte is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He has received recognition for his research including the Milken Foundation Award in Basic Cancer Research, the Rosenthal Award of the American Association for Cancer Research, the Dameshek Prize of the American Society of Hematology, the Alpert Foundation Prize, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society de Villiers International Achievement Award, the UCLA Faculty Research Lecture and the Nakahara Memorial Lecture Prize. He currently serves on several editorial and advisory boards. Witte was elected to the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research in 2010, and was recently appointed by President Obama to the President’s Cancer Panel.