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Joanna J. Phillips, MD, PhD

Research and Clinical Interests

Our laboratory is focused on understanding how invading brain tumor cells interact with the components of the tumor microenvironment, and how these key interactions influence glioma initiation, progression, and invasion. We use both in vivo and ex vivo model systems to study the interaction between tumor cells and the microenvironment including microglia, macrophages, reactive astrocytes, and the extracellular matrix. These studies will hopefully lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. In addition, using primary human brain tumors we are investigating potential diagnostic and prognostic brain tumor biomarkers.

Selected Publications

  • Tran VM, Wade A, McKinney A, Chen K, Lindberg OR, Engler JR, Persson AI, Phillips JJ. Heparan Sulfate Glycosaminoglycans in Glioblastoma Promote Tumor Invasion. Mol Cancer Res. 2017 Aug 4. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-17-0352. PMID: 28778876.
  • Lindberg OR, McKinney A, Engler JR, Koshkakaryan G, Gong H, Robinson AE, Ewald AJ, Huillard E, David James C, Molinaro AM, Shieh JT, Phillips JJ. GBM heterogeneity as a function of variable epidermal growth factor receptor variant III activity. Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 29;7(48):79101-79116. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget. 12600. PMC5346701.
  • Miroshnikova YA, Mouw JK, Barnes JM, Pickup MW, Lakins JN, Kim Y, Lobo K, Persson AI, Reis GF, McKnight TR, Holland EC, Phillips JJ, and Weaver VM. Tissue mechanics promote IDH1-dependent HIF1α-tenascin C feedback to regulate glioblastoma aggression. Nature Cell Biology, 18(12), 1336-1345. doi:10.1038/ncb3429. PMID: 27820599.
  • Wood MD*, Reis GF, Reuss DE, Phillips JJ. Protein Analysis of Glioblastoma Primary and Posttreatment Pairs Suggests a Mesenchymal Shift at Recurrence. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2016 Oct;75(10):925-935. Epub 2016 Aug 18. PubMed PMID: 27539476.
  • Phillips JJ, Gong H, Chen K, Joseph NM, van Ziffle J, Jin L-W, Bastian BC, Bollen AW, Perry A, Nicolaides T, Solomon DA*, Shieh JT. Activating NRF1-BRAF and ATG7-RAF1 fusions in anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma without BRAF p.V600E mutation. Acta Neuropathol. 2016 Sep 13. [Epub]. PubMed PMID: 27624885.
  • Engler JR, Robinson AE, Smirnov I, Hodgson JG, Berger MS, Gupta N, James CD, Molinaro A, Phillips JJ. Increased microglia/macrophage gene expression in a subset of adult and pediatric astrocytomas. PLoS One. 2012; 7(8):e43339. PMC3425586.
  • Phillips JJ, Huillard E, Robinson A, Ward A, Lum DH, Polley M-Y, Rosen SD, Rowitch DH, Werb Z. Heparan Sulfate Sulfatase SULF2 Regulates PDGFRα Signalling and Growth in Human and Mouse Malignant Glioma. J Clin Invest. 2012 Mar:122(3). PMID: 22293178.

Selected Awards

  • 1993-94: Hughes Scholars Program, Cornell University
  • 2001: Stuart Mudd Award in Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • 2005: Moore Award, best paper on Clinico-Pathological Correlation, AANP annual meeting
  • 2006: Young Pathologist Fellowship, ASIP annual meeting
  • 2008: Rubinstein Award, best paper on Neuro-Oncology, AANP annual meeting
  • 2008-2013: NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08)
  • 2010: Aspen Cancer Conference Fellow
  • 2012: Second place, Moore Award, Best paper on clinico-pathological correlation, Annual meeting American Association of Neuropathologists
  • 2013: Nominated for University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine Essential Core Teaching Award
  • 2015: Excellence in Teaching Award in medical education from the Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators

Additional Information

Joanna J. Phillips, MD, PhD
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Pathology; Director of the Brain Tumor Research Center Tissue Bank
  • Neurological Surgery and Pathology
  • Neuropathology

Specialty Area

Neuro-Oncology Research and Neuropathology Autopsy

Contact Information

Mailing/Shipping Address:

  • UCSF
  • Joanna J. Phillips, MD, PhD
  • Pathology, Box 0520
  • 1450 3rd Street, Room HD492B
  • San Francisco, CA 94158

Web Sites

Other UCSF Organizational Association(s)

  • Biomedical Graduate Group
  • Brain Tumor Research Center (BTRC); Neuropathology BTRC Biomarkers Laboratory
  • UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Hospital Affiliation(s)

  • Moffitt-Long
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