University of California San Francisco

San Francisco, California
Professor of Medicine, Departments of Surgery, Radiation Oncology,
and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences

Research Projects

Dr. Valerie Weaver is an internationally recognized expert of the tumor microenvironment (TME) focusing on the role of the biochemical and biophysical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) that surrounds, supports, and give structure to cells and tissues in the body.

She is credited with establishing the field of Tumor Mechanobiology. Her research program encompasses studies that explore the contribution of cell intrinsic and extrinsic force, stromal fibroblasts, the glycocalyx (proteins and carbohydrates surrounding the cell) and the ECM to breast and pancreatic tumor and glioblastoma development and treatment.

Dr. Weaver is collaborating with Dr. Kornelia Polyak to investigate how differences in sugar molecules (carbohydrates) attached to cancer cells of primary breast tumors compared to those attached to brain metastatic cancer cells affect the cancer cell’s response to treatment, the ability of immune cells to recognize the cells, and the stiffness of the tumor, which affects drug delivery.

This expert characterization of changes of surface glycoproteins could contribute to a greater understanding of the characteristics of metastatic cells. The role of glycoproteins in drug resistance and escape of the immune system is important and changes in these proteins may promote metastasis.


Valerie M. Weaver, Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine, Departments of Surgery, Radiation Oncology, and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). She is Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration and a member of the Helen Diller Cancer Center and Stem Cell Research Program (UCSF.)

Prior to joining UCSF faculty in 2006, she was faculty at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999 – 2006. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1992 from the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Weaver is an active member of the AACR, ASCB, Metastasis Research Society,
Biophysical Society, BMES, AIMBE, ASBMB, International Society for Stem Cell Research and
Matrix Biology Society. She is editor on multiple journals including MBoC and Dev Cell, is
frequently sought as a speaker at National and International venues and is an organizer/co-organizer of multiple national and international conferences (AACR, CSH, Keystone, GRC, EMBO). Dr.
Weaver has been recognized for her research and leadership through receipt of awards that include:
DOD BCRP Scholar awards (2003; 2011) for exceptional creativity in breast cancer research, the
ASCB WICB Midcareer award for sustained excellence in cell biology research, election as fellow
to the AIMBE and ASCB societies, the Colin Thomson Medal of Honor from the Worldwide
Cancer Research, an Outstanding Investigator award from the NCI, and the Shu Chien Biomedical
engineering society lifetime Excellence in research award.

Our approach emphasizes a collaborative, team environment to accelerate new breakthroughs.


Kornelia Polyak

Accelerate innovative research like this and help save cancer patient lives.

Cancer Type Areas

Related Updates

Questions You Should Be Asking Your Oncologist

The results are in, and you have cancer. Though no appointment will be stress-free, the first appointment with your oncologist is often the most difficult. It’s scary, you’re unfamiliar with the jargon, and you have so many questions and worries racing through your mind that it is hard to focus. Because of this, it is vital to prepare for your first appointment – and knowing what to ask is essential.  Write Down Questions as They Come Up From the moment you have your diagnosis, keep a notebook handy where you can document every question that comes into your mind. There will be a lot, and it will be impossible to remember all of them without recording them. Writing questions as they come helps keep your thoughts in order and allows you to be your own advocate. Even with the best care team in the world, there is no better advocate for you than you. Basic Questions to Ask Your Oncologist Not sure what to ask? The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) has your back. Get the conversation rolling with questions like these: 1. Where did my cancer originate? Has it spread? This will likely be the first thing your care team discusses, but it is essential that you fully understand your diagnosis.  2. Is there a genetic link to this type of cancer? Should my family members be tested? Many cancers are genetic, and this question can potentially save lives.  3. What treatment options are available? Ask your care team what they recommend and why. There may be numerous options, and your doctor should be able to explain the pros and cons of each one.  4. What happens if the treatment approach doesn’t work? Knowing this will help your peace of mind, but it also allows you to assess if your care team is the right fit. Some teams may be more risk-averse, and others may be more willing to try new therapies. Speak to your care team about how/when they consider a treatment unsuccessful and what the next steps would be. 5. How will you help me manage side effects? Review the potential side effects and what support you can receive. Speaking about side effects early on will allow your care plan to be proactive rather than reactive.  6. What will my treatment cost? Cancer treatments can be expensive, and you will want to prepare for this. Your care team can also discuss what treatments your insurance may cover and what options it will not.  7. What can I do to preserve my fertility? If you want biological children in the future, this is vital to ask. Addressing it after treatment begins can be too late. 8. What impact will treatment have on my lifestyle? It may be unavoidable, but preparing for any impact on your lifestyle can make the transition easier.  9. Where can I get more information or support? Your care team deals with diagnoses day in and day out. They are a wealth of information and can point you toward resources, groups, and more. NFCR may also be able to help via our Patient Assistance […]

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