Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms is professor of experimental radiation oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology at St. Olaf College in 1979, a doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology at Duke University Medical School in 1984, and a postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1988. In 1989, Piwnica-Worms joined the faculty of Tufts University Medical School, and in 1992 she moved to the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics department at Harvard Medical School. In 1994, she joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she was the chair of Cell Biology and Physiology. Since 2013, Piwnica-Worms assumed the role of Vice Provost of Science and Professor of Experimental Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
As a basic research scientist, she was interested in understanding how the cell cycle was regulated. She showed how basic research discoveries allow for a better understanding of molecular underpinnings that opens new strategies to treat diseases, like cancer. Using immunocompromised mice, her laboratory developed a mouse model to perform preclinical studies using breast cancer cells from patients. For her scientific contributions, she was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1994 to 2011 and was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2013. Learn more about Piwnica-Worms’ research at her lab website.