Fox Chase Cancer Center Board Member Kenneth E. Weg and wife Carol Weg established this chair in 1998 to recognize and support an outstanding leader in the fields of cancer research and human genetics who represents the highest standards of excellence.
Joseph R. Testa, PhD
Co-Leader, Cancer Biology Program
Dr. Joseph Testa’s work focuses on genetic alterations in mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, and AKT oncogenic activity. He has identified frequent mutations of the tumor suppressor genes NF2 and CDKN2A/ARF in mesothelioma, and reported a mouse model that recapitulates molecular features of the human disease. His group is unraveling the role of NF2 inactivation in oncogenic cell signaling.
The Testa lab first characterized the AKT2 gene and showed it to be over-expressed in ovarian and pancreatic cancers. His group also found that knockdown of AKT2 inhibits the malignant phenotype of tumor cells over-expressing this gene, thus implicating AKT signaling as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. He has also documented frequent activation of AKT in many kinds of cancer and shown that inhibiting AKT can sensitize tumor cells to therapy-induced apoptosis.
Dr. Testa has received several awards, including the Stohlman Memorial Scholar Award from the Leukemia Society of America and the Selikoff Award for Cancer Research from the Ramazzini Institute. He is a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors and is an editorial board member of six journals. He was named the inaugural Carol & Kenneth Weg Chair in Human Genetics in 1999.