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David Donner, Ph.D.

David Donner, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor
Division of General Surgery

Contact Information

1600 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, California 94143-1932
(415) 353-9294
Fax: (415) 353-9296
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  • Queens College, New York, NY, B.A., 1966, Chemistry
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, NY, Ph.D., 1972, Chemistry
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, post-doc, 1972-1973, Biochemistry
  • Surgical Oncology Program
  • Surgical Oncology Laboratory
  • UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • UCSF Department of Surgery
  • Coordinate regulation of pro-apoptotic and pro-survival genes
  • Death receptor signaling
  • Inflammation in the initiation and progression of cancer
  • Sall2 transcription factor as a cancer biomarker
  • Tumor suppressor-oncoprotein networks

Dr. Donner is a molecular-cell biologist in the Surgical Oncology Research Laboratory.  Dr. Donner received his undergraduate degree for Queens College of the City University of New York.  He conducted doctoral research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the area of chemical evolution and the origins of life on earth.

His studies on chemical evolution contributed to the first Viking probe that searched for life on Mars.  After postdoctoral studies in neurobiology conducted under the mentorship of Dr. George P. Hess at Cornell University, Ithaca New York, Dr. Donner joined the faculty of Cornell University Medical College and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. There Dr. Donner defined how mitogens, cytokines, and their receptors contribute to cancer.

Dr. Donner served an eight-year term as Director of the Biochemistry and Genetics Division at Sloan-Kettering as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the Institute.  Dr. Donner has also served on numerous Editorial Boards and Grant Review Committees for the National Institutes of Health and as an Editor for "Endocrinology".

Dr. Donner moved from Sloan-Kettering to the Indiana University School of Medicine as Professor of Physiology, Microbiology and Immunology, and a Member of the Indiana University Cancer Center.  Since joining the faculty of UCSF as Professor in Residence in the Department of Surgery and a member of the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2005, Dr. Donner's laboratory has focused its efforts on identifying and understanding the functions of biomarkers that may predict the course and likelihood of recurrence of human colon cancer.

Dr. Donner is the recipient of numerous awards including the NIH Career Development Award, the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award,  Louise & Alston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Laboratory Research, American Diabetes Association Research and Development Award, NY State Regents Scholarship, and the NY State Scholar Incentive Award. 


Dr. Donner's research is aimed at understanding how derangements in tumor suppressor-oncoprotein signaling networks are permissive of cancer.   Of particular interest is how signaling through "death receptors" may sometimes induce cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death, yet in other instances may promote the aggressive growth and spread of malignancies.  Recently, Dr. Donner's research group identified a novel factor called Sall2 that may act as a molecular switch to determine whether life or death signals predominate downstream of death receptors.   Furthermore, the absence or presence of polymorphic forms of Sall2 appears predictive of whether colon cancer will recur.   Considerable effort is being directed towards determining whether Sall2 may be a clinically useful biomarker that can predict the course of colon cancer and whether the malignancy will be responsive to therapy.   

Most recent publications from a total of 103
  1. Donner DB, Nakakura EK, Venook AP, Lenz HJ, Zhang W, Hwang J, Bergsland EK, Lin MH, Toriguchi K, Antonia RJ, Warren RS. High thymidylate synthase gene expression predicts poor outcome after resection of hepatocellular carcinoma. PLoS One. 2019; 14(7):e0219469. View in PubMed
  2. Donner DB, Ruan DT, Toriguchi K, Bergsland EK, Nakakura EK, Lin MH, Antonia RJ, Warren RS. Mitogen Inducible Gene-6 Is a Prognostic Marker for Patients with Colorectal Liver Metastases. Transl Oncol. 2019 Mar; 12(3):550-560. View in PubMed
  3. Chamberlain CE, German MS, Yang K, Wang J, VanBrocklin H, Regan M, Shokat KM, Ducker GS, Kim GE, Hann B, Donner DB, Warren RS, Venook AP, Bergsland EK, Lee D, Wang Y, Nakakura EK. A Patient-derived Xenograft Model of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors Identifies Sapanisertib as a Possible New Treatment for Everolimus-resistant Tumors. Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 12; 17(12):2702-2709. View in PubMed
  4. K. Toriguchi, M. Lin, E. Nakakura, C. Corvera, B. Hann, D. Donner, R. Warren. An approach to patient-specific treatment of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC): drug screens with patient-derived spheroids identify mTOR as a viable and druggable target. Hepato Pancreato Biliary. 2018 Sep 1; 20:s690-s691. View in PubMed
  5. Tartaglione G, Stoeckli SJ, de Bree R, Schilling C, Flach GB, Bakholdt V, Sorensen JA, Bilde A, von Buchwald C, Lawson G, Dequanter D, Villarreal PM, Forcelledo MF, Amezaga JA, Moreira A, Poli T, Grandi C, Vigili MG, O'Doherty M, Donner D, Bloemena E, Rahimi S, Gurney B, Haerle SK, Broglie MA, Huber GF, Krogdah AL, Sebbesen LR, Odell E, Junquera Gutierrez LM, Barbier L, Santamaria-Zuazua J, Jacome M, Nollevaux MC, Bragantini E, Lothaire P, Silini EM, Sesenna E, Dolivet G, Mastronicola R, Leroux A, Sassoon I, Sloan P, Colletti PM, Rubello D, McGurk M. Sentinel Node in Oral Cancer: The Nuclear Medicine Aspects. A Survey from the Sentinel European Node Trial. Clin Nucl Med. 2016 Jul; 41(7):534-42. View in PubMed
  6. Schilling C, Stoeckli SJ, Haerle SK, Broglie MA, Huber GF, Sorensen JA, Bakholdt V, Krogdahl A, von Buchwald C, Bilde A, Sebbesen LR, Odell E, Gurney B, O'Doherty M, de Bree R, Bloemena E, Flach GB, Villarreal PM, Fresno Forcelledo MF, Junquera Gutiérrez LM, Amézaga JA, Barbier L, Santamaría-Zuazua J, Moreira A, Jacome M, Vigili MG, Rahimi S, Tartaglione G, Lawson G, Nollevaux MC, Grandi C, Donner D, Bragantini E, Dequanter D, Lothaire P, Poli T, Silini EM, Sesenna E, Dolivet G, Mastronicola R, Leroux A, Sassoon I, Sloan P, McGurk M. Sentinel European Node Trial (SENT): 3-year results of sentinel node biopsy in oral cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2015 Dec; 51(18):2777-84. View in PubMed
  7. Depeille P, Henricks LM, van de Ven RA, Lemmens E, Wang CY, Matli M, Werb Z, Haigis KM, Donner D, Warren R, Roose JP. RasGRP1 opposes proliferative EGFR-SOS1-Ras signals and restricts intestinal epithelial cell growth. Nat Cell Biol. 2015 Jun; 17(6):804-15. View in PubMed
  8. Farkas C, Martins CP, Escobar D, Hepp MI, Castro AF, Evan G, Gutiérrez JL, Warren R, Donner DB, Pincheira R. Wild type p53 transcriptionally represses the SALL2 transcription factor under genotoxic stress. PLoS One. 2013; 8(9):e73817. View in PubMed
  9. Warren RS, Atreya CE, Niedzwiecki D, Weinberg VK, Donner DB, Mayer RJ, Goldberg RM, Compton CC, Zuraek MB, Ye C, Saltz LB, Bertagnolli MM. Association of TP53 mutational status and gender with survival after adjuvant treatment for stage III colon cancer: results of CALGB 89803. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Oct 15; 19(20):5777-87. View in PubMed
  10. Ducker GS, Atreya CE, Simko JP, Hom YK, Matli MR, Benes CH, Hann B, Nakakura EK, Bergsland EK, Donner DB, Settleman J, Shokat KM, Warren RS. Incomplete inhibition of phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 as a mechanism of primary resistance to ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitors. Oncogene. 2014 Mar 20; 33(12):1590-600. View in PubMed
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