William P. Schiemann, PhD

Vice Dean for Research and Innovation
School of Medicine
Goodman-Blum Professor in Cancer Research
School of Medicine
Department of Biochemistry
Special Advisor to the Director
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Pilot Funding & Scientific Investments
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Molecular Oncology Program
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

William P. Schiemann is the Goodman-Blum Professor in Cancer Research in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Schiemann received his BS in Premedicine from the University of Nevada-Reno in 1990. After receiving his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Washington in 1996, Dr. Schiemann joined the laboratory of Dr. Harvey F. Lodish at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and MIT, where he initiated studies of the “TGFβ- Paradox” and its role in driving breast cancer metastasis and disease recurrence. In 2001, Dr. Schiemann expanded these analyses as an independent investigator, initially as an Assistant Professor at National Jewish Health (Denver, CO) and subsequently as an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (Aurora, CO). In 2010, Dr. Schiemann moved his research program to Case Western Reserve University and its Comprehensive Cancer Center, wherein he continues to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie breast cancer development, metastasis, and disease recurrence.

Research Information

Research Interests

  • TGFβ & Cell Signaling
  • Breast Cancer Metastasis & Recurrence
  • Metastatic Dormancy
  • Breast Cancer Stem Cells
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal Transition
  • Tumor Heterogeneity
  • Noncoding RNAs
  • Epigenome

Research Projects

Metastatic breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the US, annually accounting for more than 40,000 deaths and 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is incurable and results in a median survival of only 1.5 to 3 years. Moreover, ~30% of breast cancer patients diagnosed with early-stage disease will ultimately progress to metastatic disease, an event that (i) severely limits treatment options, (ii) typically results in chemoresistance and low response rates, and (iii) greatly contributes to aggressive relapses and dismal survival rates. This therapeutic barrier reflects the ability of disseminated tumor cells to acquire dormancy-associated phenotypes and escape clinical detection for many years by remaining in a state of “suspended animation,” only to recur as incurable secondary tumors. Thus, a major barrier to eradicating metastatic breast cancer reflects the paucity of knowledge related to how metastatic dormancy is initiated, maintained and overcome, and to how these metastatic “time bombs” can be defused in breast cancer patients. A major goal of the Schiemann Lab is to identify the cellular and molecular defects that enable breast cancers to establish and eventually emerge from metastatic dormancy. Accordingly, we seek to: (i) identify the initiating genetic and epigenetic defects that underlie the transformation of normal mammary stem cells, as well as determine the clinical utility of these events to mark and predict for metastatic progression in breast cancer patients; (ii) discover the molecular and cellular features that underlie the heterogeneity and diversity of human breast cancers, as well as determine the impact of these events on breast cancer metastasis, disease recurrence and chemoresistance; and (iii) identify the cellular and molecular deficiencies that give rise to the establishment and eventual emergence from metastatic dormancy.

Current Research Projects

  • Role of the lncRNA BORG and Other Noncoding RNAs in Breast Cancer Metastasis and Recurrence
  • Role of MYC-MIZ1 Signaling and the Inflammatory Immune Microenvironment in TNBC Racial Disparities
  • Role of SLX4IP in Directing Breast Cancer Telomere Homeostasis, Metastatic Progression, and Recurrence
  • Elucidating the Interplay Between Pfkfb3 and Autophagy in Regulating Breast Cancer Cell Acquisition of and Eventual Emergence From Metastatic Dormancy
  • Determine the Epigenetic Events Coupled to Mammary Stem Cell Transformation and Metastatic Progression


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