Valerie M. Weaver, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration in the Department of Surgery. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo in Biochemistry/Chemistry in 1985, continuing her education for an Honors Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa (graduating Summa cum Laude). Dr. Weaver earned her doctorate degree, Ph.D, from the University of Ottawa in Biochemistry in 1992.
After receiving her doctorate, Dr. Weaver was awarded the Molecular Cell Biology and Apoptosis Research Group and the Institute for Biological Sciences of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow from 1992-1994. From 1994-1998, she was distinguished as the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Cancer and Cell Biology Group, Life Sciences Division.
Following her fellowships, Dr. Weaver has held principle positions within academia. Prior to her appointment at UCSF, she was an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999 to 2006. In her current position, she is an Professor with the Department of Surgery at the Universality of California, San Francisco.
Additionally, Dr. Weaver is the Director for the Center for Bioengineering & Tissue Regeneration with the Department of Surgery and UCSF, an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy at UCSF, and Adjunct Associate Professor for the department of Bioengineering at UPenn. From 1999 to 2006 she was a member at the Institute for Medicine and Engineering at UPenn.
Dr. Weaver's extensive honors and awards include: the Breast Cancer Scholar Award with the Department of Defense, the International Society of Differentiation Young Investigator Travel Award, the Alberta Heritable Foundation for Medical Research Lecturer Award, and the University of California Breast Cancer Research Program Postdoctoral Grant.
She also proudly serves on the Editorial Board for Cancer Biology & Therapy, was a guest editor in 2004 for J. Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia, and is currently an Ad Hoc Reviewer for several distinguished journals, including: Cancer Research, American Journal of Cell Biology, European Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Carcinogenesis, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Oncogene, FASEB Journal, Journal of Cell Science, Laboratory Investigation, Cancer Letters, Breast Cancer Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Molecular and Cellular Biology, & Clinical Cancer Research.
Dr. Weaver has over 20 years of experience in leading interdisciplinary research in oncology, including leadership of significant program projects merging approaches in the physical/engineering sciences and biology. Her research focuses on the contribution of force, cell-intrinsic as well as extracellular matrix, to oncogenesis and tumor development. Her group employs 2- and 3-D in vitro cell culture techniques, clinical samples and animal models with force application techniques, and traction force and atomic force microscopy to assess the influence of the mechanical aspects of the cell environment on cell behavior and tumor progression. Dr. Weaver has been awarded many distinctions for her work demonstrating the critical importance of tissue structure in the treatment response of tumors, including the prestigious Department of Defense Era of Hope Breast Cancer Scholar Award for her innovative interdisciplinary research efforts on the effect of mechanical force on breast cancer progression and treatment response. Along with Dr. Jan Liphardt, PhD, UC Berkeley, she was awarded the prestigious Physical Sciences and Oncology Center Grant, whose aim is to integrate physical sciences approaches toward better understanding tumor biology. The Center encompasses close to 100 investigators in physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, cell and molecular biology, and clinical sciences from UC Berkeley, UCSF, and LBNL. In addition, Dr. Weaver a Co-PI on an NIH U01 grant with Dr. Werb on environmental stressors in mammary gland development and a Co-PI with Drs. Kalluri and Moses on role of fibroblasts, myeloid cells and matrix in PDAC.
Dr. Weaver is the TMEN-BCC co-PI with Dr. Bergers, as well as the leader of Project 3,in which she is testing the hypothesis that the mechanoproperties of SVZ-derived GBM, together with elevated cranial pressure and ECM stiffness, promote GBM aggressiveness and recurrence, in part by affecting the vascular and tumor stem cell compartment.
The UCSF Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration, led by Valerie Weaver, PhD, Professor of Surgery, moves into newly renovated lab space. This new, fully equipped lab facility provides an ideal environment for UCSF researchers to carry out the center's initiative to better understand cancer and therefore improve prognoses for cancer patients.
Valerie Weaver and collaborators have identified the first positive regulator of BRCA1, establishing that the loss of the homeobox gene HoxA9 promotes tumor growth in breasts. The scientists found that restoring HoxA9 in breast cancer cells inhibited their malignant behavior in culture and in vivo. Intriguingly, the researchers learned that while HoxA9 has been shown to promote leukemia, it actually functions as a tumor suppressor in the breast. This eight-year project was led by Valerie M. Weaver, PhD, a faculty member in the Department of Surgery, "The finding demonstrates what we've seen before - that a gene that drives tumors in one disease can reduce tumors in another disease," she says.
Weaver and colleagues showed that collagen crosslinking drives tumor progression. The report established a correlation between collagen crosslinking and extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness in mouse models and implicates the ECM-crosslinking enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) as a culprit driving stiffness-associated tumor progression.
The National Institutes of Health awarded Valerie Weaver, PhD, Director of the UCSF Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration and her colleagues a grant for the establishment of a virtual Physical Sciences - Oncology Center for the development of novel approaches to cancer diagnostics, prognosis and therapy. The collaboration is led by Dr. Weaver, and Jan Liphardt, PhD, a world-renowned physicist at the UC Berkeley. The group encompasses the disciplines of physics, bioengineering and bioinformatics, and clinical and biological sciences spanning leading institutions including: UCSF and its Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, UC Berkeley, E. O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Cancer Program, and NYU Breast Cancer and Translational Cancer Research Program.