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Jayanta Debnath, MD

Research and Clinical Interests

My laboratory focuses on how autophagy, a fundamental catabolic process in which a cell literally “eats itself”, contributes to cell survival and cancer progression. In eukaryotic cells, autophagy functions as a critical survival and metabolic adaptation pathway during stress. As a result, there is immense interest in manipulating autophagy to treat human diseases, such as cancer. We utilize cell biological, biochemical and proteomics approaches combined in vivo murine cancer models to pursue the following research goals: 1) Determine the role of autophagy in cancer metabolism, cell survival and oncogenic transformation. 2) Delineate the role of autophagy in breast cancer progression and metastasis in vivo. 3) Dissect the biological and biochemical functions of the molecules that control autophagy (called ATGs) to ultimately exploit this process for therapeutic benefit.

Selected Publications

  • L. Radoshevich, L. Murrow, N. Chen, E. Fernandez, S. Roy, C. Fung, and J. Debnath. ATG12 Conjugation to ATG3 Promotes Mitochondrial Homeostasis and Cell Death. Cell. 142 (4): 590-600, 2010.
  • M.R. Warr, M. Binnewies, J. Flach, D. Reynaud, T. Garg, R. Malhotra, J. Debnath, and E. Passegué. FoxO3a Directs a Protective Autophagy Program in Hematopoietic Stem Cells. Nature. 494 (7437): 323-7, 2013.
  • R. Lock, C.M. Kenific, A.M. Leidal, E. Salas, and J. Debnath. Autophagy dependent production of secreted factors facilitates RAS-driven invasion. Cancer Discovery. 4 (4): 466-79, 2014.
  • L. Murrow, R. Malhotra, and J. Debnath. ATG12—ATG3 Interacts with Alix to Promote Basal Autophagic Flux and Late Endosome Function. Nature Cell Biol. 17 (3): 300-10, 2015.
  • J.M. Kimmey, J.P. Huynh, L.A. Weiss, S. Park, A. Kambal , J. Debnath, H.W. Virgin, and C.L. Stallings. Unique role for ATG5 in neutrophil-mediated immunopathology during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Nature. 528:565-9, 2015.
  • C.M. Kenific, S.J. Stehbens, J. Goldsmith, A.M. Leidal, N. Faure, J. Ye, T. Wittmann, and J. Debnath. NBR1 Enables Autophagy-Dependent Focal Adhesion Turnover. J. Cell Biol. 212(5): 577-590, 2016.

Selected Awards

  • 2006 Charles E. Culpeper Scholarship in Medical Sciences
  • 2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Early Career Award
  • 2006 American Association of Cancer Research-Genentech BioOncology Career Award
  • 2011 Department of Defense Breast Cancer Era of Hope Scholar Award
  • 2013 Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Award
  • 2013 Elected Member, American Society of Clinical Investigation

Additional Information

Jayanta Debnath, MD
  • Professor of Pathology
  • Pathology

Specialty Area

Cancer Research

Contact Information

Mailing/Shipping Address:

  • UCSF
  • Jayanta Debnath, MD
  • Pathology, Box 0502
  • 513 Parnassus Avenue, Room HSW-450B
  • San Francisco, CA 94143

Other UCSF Organizational Association(s)


  • Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
  • UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center

Hospital Affiliation(s)

  • Moffitt-Long
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