Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., has joined MD Anderson as vice provost to lead science research at the institution. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to have a greater impact on the cancer problem,” says Piwnica-Worms, who arrived in June and also is a professor in Cancer Biology.
“I’m enthused about making new colleagues, starting new research and advancing MD Anderson’s mission.”
Piwnica-Worms previously headed the Washington University School of Medicine Department of Cell Biology and Physiology. She also was associate director for basic science and served on the executive committee at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis.
During her 19 years at Washington University, Piwnica-Worms became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and played an instrumental role in building its Molecular Oncology program and establishing the Siteman Cancer Center.
Her team has particular interest in molecular pathways involved in triple-negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and head and neck cancer. Piwnica-Worms and colleagues identified the pathway that activates checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1), an important protein in the second checkpoint involved in cell division. They found that inhibiting CHK1 causes cancer cells to self-destruct.