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Prof. Dr.

Webster K. Cavenee

Year of election: 2012
Section: Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine
City: La Jolla, CA
Country: USA
CV Webster Cavenee - Deutsch (PDF)
CV Webster Cavenee - English (PDF)


Main areas of research: Genetic cancer research, oncology, brain tumours, tumour suppression, glioblastoma

Webster K. Cavenee is a US American pioneer of genetic cancer research. He provided the first indisputable evidence for the existence of a gene that was responsible for the suppression of tumours, a so-called Tumour Suppressor Gene.

Already as a postgraduate student Webster Cavenee was able to bring about an extraordinary breakthrough by producing the first indisputable evidence of the existence of a so-called Tumour Suppressor Gene. These genes normally control the cell cycle and programmed cell death by means of specific proteins. A mutation of one such gene increases the probability of a tumour forming and the onset of cancer.

Cavenee’s further research work is closely linked to the US American Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. As a professor and Director of the Ludwig Institute in San Diego he focussed his research on a particularly aggressive type of brain tumour in adults: the glioblastome, which is thus far considered incurable. Webster Cavenee described the formation, function and attributes of an important growth factor receptor, the mutated form of which fosters the development of such tumours. A team led by him developed an antibody against the mutated receptor and that has developed into a promising therapy against glioblastoma.

Cavenee ended his role as the Director of the Institute in 2015 but continues his scientific work. He since coordinates an international research alliance that consists of about 130 clinical researchers and basic researchers from the USA, China, Australia and Europe. The goal of the alliance is to promote and advance new clinical testing methods for the purpose of developing therapies against glioblastoma.


  • 2003-2015 Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, USA
  • since 1991 Distinguished Professor, University of California, San Diego, USA
  • 1986-1991 Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Professor for Medicine, Neurology, Pathology und Humane Genetics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • 1983-1986 Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor for Microbiology und Molecular Genetics, University of Cincinnati, USA
  • 1981-1983 Associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA
  • 1979-1981 Visiting Researcher at the Center for Cancer Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA
  • 1977-1979 Postdoctoral Fellow, the Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, USA
  • 1977 PhD at the University of Kansas Medical School, Manhattan, USA
  • 1973 Bachelor of Science in Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA


  • 2002 Member of the Advisory Board of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation
  • 2002 Chair of the Executive Committee of the World Alliance of Cancer Research Organizations, Philadelphia, USA
  • 1998 President of the American Association for Cancer Research
  • 1994-1997 Member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research


  • since 2015 Director of Strategic Alliances in Central Nervous System (CNS) Cancers, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, USA

Honours and Memberships

  • since 2017 Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
  • since 2012 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • since 2008 Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • since 2007 Member of the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine)
  • 2007 Princess Takamatsu Award (AACR)
  • 2007 Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize, National Foundation for Cancer Research, USA
  • since 2003 Member of the National Foundation for Cancer Research, USA
  • since 1997 Member of the American Academy of Microbiology
  • since 1997 Member of the US-National Academy of Sciences
  • 1994 Farber Award of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • 1990 Charles S. Mott Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, USA
  • 1988 Rhoads Prize for excellent contributions to cancer research




Emil-Abderhalden-Str. 35
06108 Halle (Saale)

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 122
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 139
E-Mail archiv @leopoldina.org

Academia Net

Profiles of Leading Women Scientists on AcademiaNet – an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.