University of California San Francisco

San Francisco, California
Professor of Medicine, Departments of Surgery, Radiation Oncology,
and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences

Research Projects

Dr. Valerie Weaver is an internationally recognized expert of the tumor microenvironment (TME) focusing on the role of the biochemical and biophysical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) that surrounds, supports, and give structure to cells and tissues in the body.

She is credited with establishing the field of Tumor Mechanobiology. Her research program encompasses studies that explore the contribution of cell intrinsic and extrinsic force, stromal fibroblasts, the glycocalyx (proteins and carbohydrates surrounding the cell) and the ECM to breast and pancreatic tumor and glioblastoma development and treatment.

Dr. Weaver is collaborating with Dr. Kornelia Polyak to investigate how differences in sugar molecules (carbohydrates) attached to cancer cells of primary breast tumors compared to those attached to brain metastatic cancer cells affect the cancer cell’s response to treatment, the ability of immune cells to recognize the cells, and the stiffness of the tumor, which affects drug delivery.

This expert characterization of changes of surface glycoproteins could contribute to a greater understanding of the characteristics of metastatic cells. The role of glycoproteins in drug resistance and escape of the immune system is important and changes in these proteins may promote metastasis.


Valerie M. Weaver, Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine, Departments of Surgery, Radiation Oncology, and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). She is Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration and a member of the Helen Diller Cancer Center and Stem Cell Research Program (UCSF.)

Prior to joining UCSF faculty in 2006, she was faculty at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999 – 2006. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1992 from the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Weaver is an active member of the AACR, ASCB, Metastasis Research Society,
Biophysical Society, BMES, AIMBE, ASBMB, International Society for Stem Cell Research and
Matrix Biology Society. She is editor on multiple journals including MBoC and Dev Cell, is
frequently sought as a speaker at National and International venues and is an organizer/co-organizer of multiple national and international conferences (AACR, CSH, Keystone, GRC, EMBO). Dr.
Weaver has been recognized for her research and leadership through receipt of awards that include:
DOD BCRP Scholar awards (2003; 2011) for exceptional creativity in breast cancer research, the
ASCB WICB Midcareer award for sustained excellence in cell biology research, election as fellow
to the AIMBE and ASCB societies, the Colin Thomson Medal of Honor from the Worldwide
Cancer Research, an Outstanding Investigator award from the NCI, and the Shu Chien Biomedical
engineering society lifetime Excellence in research award.

Our approach emphasizes a collaborative, team environment to accelerate new breakthroughs.


Kornelia Polyak Portrait
Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

Accelerate innovative research like this and help save cancer patient lives.

Cancer Type Areas