Dr. Michael J. Weber is the director of the University of Virginia Cancer Center, and professor of microbiology and the Weaver professor of oncology at the University of Virginia. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, he received his B.Sc. from Haverford College in 1963, Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego in 1968, and was a postdoctoral fellow and American Cancer Society fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He was on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign from 1971-1984, when he moved to the University of Virginia. He helped the university obtain its first NCI-designated Cancer Center and co-founded the Cancer Cell Signaling Program, which has been the foundation for many subsequent investigations on cancer cell regulation and the discovery of therapeutic targets.
Dr. Weber has been a major contributor to the discovery and analysis of the MAP Kinase pathway, which is a key driver of many malignancies, among the most prominent of which is melanoma. Dr. Weber first demonstrated the central role of “p42/Microtubule Associated Protein 2a Kinase” in the regulation of cell growth, and renamed it “Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase, (MAP Kinase).” He and his collaborators were responsible for identifying the activating phosphorylations, isolating the first full-length clone, demonstrating a MAP Kinase Kinase (MEK) activity, demonstrating that Ras could activate Raf, and that B-Raf could activate MEK, first use of a phospho-specific antibody in patient FFPE archival samples, and showing that Ras signaling could activate the androgen receptor. His research has focused over the past 10 years on understanding how signal transduction networks can best be used as a target for cancer therapy, with a focus on rational construction of combinatorial therapies.
Dr. Weber is among the top 1 percent most-cited authors in the areas of molecular biology and genetics; biology and biochemistry (Thomson Reuters). He has served on numerous NIH and foundation grant review panels and advisory boards, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and is a member of the original organizing committee and on the grant review committee of the Melanoma Research Alliance. Dr. Weber’s dedication to cancer research is not only professional, but personal: he is a member of a cancer family with BRCA2 mutations, and knows firsthand the importance of improving cancer outcomes by understanding basic cell and molecular biology and genetics.