Lance A. Liotta, Ph.D., M.D.

Deputy Director for Intramural Research, July 6, 1992 - August 1993

Dr. Liotta was named NIH deputy director for intramural research and training on July 6, 1992. He joined the Office of the Director after simultaneously serving since 1982 in three NCI Laboratory of Pathology positions: chief, tumor invasion and metastases section; lab chief; and codirector, Anatomic Pathology Residency Program.

He earned his A.B. degree in general science and biology from Hiram College in Ohio, followed by his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and biomathematics from Case Western Reserve University. In 1976 he earned his M.D. from Case Western and joined NIH as a PHS resident physician in the NCI Laboratory of Pathology.

Dr. Liotta has devoted his career to the study of cancer invasion and metastasis, the major cause of cancer treatment failure. He was one of the first scientists to investigate this process at the molecular level. In 1975 he proposed that tumor cell attachment and degradation of the basement membrane (a collagenous sheath that surrounds epithelial ducts, blood vessels and nerves, and separates tissue compartments) was crucial to invasion and metastasis.

He found that disruption of the basement membrane is the general hallmark of the transition from in situ to invasive cancer for all human epithelial cancers. He discovered metallo-proteinases produced by tumor cells that degrade the metastasis; TIMP-2 (Dr. William Stetler-Stevenson), a new protein that inhibits invasion and angiogenesis; laminin-binding proteins (Dr. Mark Sobel) that mediate tumor cell attachment; and autotaxin (Dr. Mary Stracke), a protein that profoundly stimulates motility.

Dr. Liotta's group also developed the first synthetic compound (CAI) (Dr. Elise Kohn) that blocks cancer metastasis growth by inhibiting selected signal transduction pathways. CAI has now entered clinical phase I trials under support from the Division of Cancer Treatment.

He is a member of the International Metastasis Research Society, American Association for Cancer Research, American Association of Pathologists, American Society of Cell Biology, American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the International Academy of Pathology.

Dr. Liotta has received numerous awards including three PHS Commissioned Corps Medals, the Arthur S. Flemming Award, the Warner Lambert/Parke Davis Award, the Josef Steiner Prize, and the Lil Gruber Research Award. He holds more than 30 patents for his work.

This page last reviewed on August 7, 2015