Garth Powis

Garth Powis, D.Phil.[La Jolla]

  • Jeanne and Gary Herberger Leadership Chair in Cancer Research
  • Research

    Dr. Powis studies the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to survive stress.

  • Biography

    Dr. Powis received his doctorate in biochemistry and pharmacology from Oxford University.



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Garth Powis's Research Focus

Solid tumors exist in a stressed environment for cell growth. In order to survive, cancer cells initiate specific adaptive and constitutive changes allowing them to adapt to the hostile hypoxic environment, escape cell death and increase formation of new blood vessels and metastasis. All of these responses lead to highly aggressive tumors that are resistant to therapy. In order to identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention that is applicable to a wide variety of tumor types, our lab studies the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to survive stress.

About Garth Powis


Powis is a native of the U.K., where he trained at Oxford University. He worked at the Mayo Clinic, becoming deputy chair of Pharmacology; at University of Arizona Cancer Center as director of Basic Research; and most recently at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he served as chair of Experimental Therapeutics and director of the Center for Targeted Therapy.

Powis is a molecular and translational pharmacologist with more than 350 publications and 15 patents. His research focuses on the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to survive stress. Powis’ work has resulted in three novel cancer drugs currently in clinical trials. The expertise he brings to Sanford-Burnham encompasses all stages of cancer drug discovery and development, from early target identification to clinical studies with cancer patients.


1970 Merton College, Oxford, United Kingdom, D. Phil., Biochemistry and Pharmacology

1967 Birmingham University, England, United Kingdom, B.Sc., Hons. (1st Class), Biochemistry and Pharmacology

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