Director’s Adviser Board

The Director’s Adviser Board (DAB) members are appointed by the Director of MBICR for a uniform period of four years. The DAB members act as independent assessors for one or more of MBICR’s research programs, and also have the following main duties.

  1. Contribute to the DAB Board’s perspective and wisdom by sharing knowledge and experience.
  2. Regularly comment on the technical and scientific performance of the MBICR.
  3. Advise on the development of medium and long-term goals of a specific research program.
  4. Promote research and higher education collaborations between MBICR and other research establishments.
  5. Recommend qualified individuals to assist with MBICR’s activities (PI Hiring, Peer Review, Seminar Speakers, Award Jury etc.).
  6. Other matters concerning scientific programs and performance upon which the institute director requests advice and recommendations.

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Dr. Alana Welm

Alana Welm, Ph.D., is the Scott Zarrow Chair in Biomedical Research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and an investigator at Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Welm is a renowned scientist for pioneering work in the field of PDX, which involves transplanting human tumors into laboratory models to study cancer development. Her research group currently uses the genetic and biological information to tailor treatments for individual cancer patients. Her research provides an opportunity to test different therapies against a person’s tumor and to pinpoint the one with the highest chance of success to guide clinical management of cancer patients.

Dr. Welm completed her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX under the supervision of Gretchen Darlington, Ph.D.. She then went on to conduct postdoctoral training in Dr. J. Michael Bishop’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco where her work focused on developing new models of breast cancer metastasis. Dr. Welm started her laboratory at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2013.

The research in Dr. Welm’s laboratory is focused on solving the problem of breast cancer metastasis using in vivo modeling of mouse and human breast cancers. Dr. Welm’s group discovered that the Ron kinase pathway is a critical facilitator of breast cancer metastasis through its unique dual function in tumor cells and resident macrophages. Current areas of the research include (1) pre-clinical studies of various Ron inhibitors for treatment and prevention of metastatic breast cancer; (2) pre-clinical and early clinical studies of Ron/Met inhibitors in bone metastatic cancers; (3) discovering molecular mechanisms by which Ron kinases promote metastasis through cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous pathways; and (4) refining “precision medicine” for metastatic breast cancer using functional assays in patient-derived breast tumor grafts.

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Dr. Dana Aftab

Dana Aftab, Ph.D., has served as Executive Vice President, Business Operations since February 2016 and has been at Exelixis for almost 18 years. He began his tenure with Exelixis in the company’s drug discovery group, where he led the pharmacology department and served as Project Team Leader for discovery programs in oncology and metabolic diseases. In 2007, Dr. Aftab moved into the clinical development organization where he implemented a broad translational medicine platform at the company as vice president of research. Before joining Exelixis, Dr. Aftab held senior scientist positions at Versicor and Metaxen. He received his Ph.D. from Yale, did postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley in the field of oncogene signaling, and completed his undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara.

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Dr. Dean Felsher

Dr. Dean Felsher is a medical oncologist affiliated with Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Professor of oncology and pathology, and director of oncology research at Stanford University. He has conducted a world-class research in dissecting the molecular basis of initiation and maintenance of tumorigenesis, and has so far co-authored more than 160 research articles. Majority of them were published in Science, Nature, Cell and PNAS. Dr. Felsher also serves the scientific advisory board for several biotech companies such as Alligator Bioscience in Sweden and Apotle Inc. in the USA.

Dr. Felsher obtained his B.A. in Chemistry at the University of Chicago and his MD-PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. He conducted his Oncology Fellowship training at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Felsher’s laboratory at Stanford University pursues both basic science and translational research studies investigating how oncogenes initiate and sustain tumorigenesis and use these insights towards the development of new therapies for cancer. Dr. Felsher’s work has led to major contributions to our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and is invaluable towards the rational development of new therapeutics to treat cancer. Due to these landmark contributions to cancer research, Dr. Felsher received numerous awards such as Elected Member of Association of American Physicians, Translational Research Award from Burroughs Wellcome Trust, Clinical Investigator Award from Damon Runyon Foundation, Physician Post-Doctoral Awards from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Charles Carrington Prize from Stanford University.

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Dr. Frank Buchholz

Dr. Frank Buchholz is a full professor at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus and its National Center for Tumor Diseases. He is also a principal investigator at German Cancer Research Center, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) and member of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organization. His research group achieved a widely recognized breakthrough in AIDS research in 2007 by the targeted removal of HIV DNA from host cells in vitro using recombinases prepared from targeted evolution. Besides, Dr. Buchholz is a world leader in pioneering the esiRNA technique for high throughput functional screening. The technique has engendered the launching of the Eupheria Biotech in Germany. Dr. Buchholz has so far published more than 270 research articles and reviews in top-tier journals.